It’s the first GOP debate since Jeb! threw in the towel and the first since Donald Trump’s blowout in Nevada. It’s also GOP logothe last GOP debate before Super Tuesday, when about a quarter of the delegates will be assigned and Trump’s already way ahead with 82 delegates, to Ted Cruz’s  17 and Marco Rubio’s 16.  Rep. Trent Franks last night began muscling fellow GOP lawmakers to sign a letter begging Rubio or Cruz to drop out for the good of  the party.  WaPo’s editorial board, dreading the thought of the Trump family moving on up to the White House, in its neighborhood, this morning warned, “History will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer.”

So, what are the five surviving candidates saying in advance of tonight’s debate on CNN?

“The time for the clowns and the acrobats and the dancing bears has passed”: Ted Cruz

Nicky
3 months
Are these debates? I don't think so.
ED
3 months
Like how you lost your punctuation?
wjm980
3 months
Maybe Hillary snuck in...

“The vast and overwhelming majority of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be our nominee”: Marco Rubio

“We’re going to get greedy for the United States. We’re going to grab and grab and grab!”: Donald Trump

“We’re not electing class president now. We’re electing the President of the United States”: John Kasich

“I believe that things are starting to happen here”: Ben Carson.

Let’s get started……

Lisa de Moraes February 25, 20165:30 pm

Tonight’s GOP debate, at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music Opera House, is hosted by Wolf Blitzer, joined by Salem talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and Telemundo News anchor Maria Celeste Arras.

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Walking up to the debate, CNN’s Chris Cuomo said he was confident host Wolf Blitzer would be able to wrangle the GOP candidates’ “macho metric” on stage “because “his name in German means ‘The Man Who Makes Lightning’.”

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Tonight’s GOP debate, at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music Opera House, is hosted by Wolf Blitzer, joined by Salem talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash and Telemundo News anchor Maria Celeste Arras.

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Donald Trump scored a big debate win before it’s even started when Fusion released Jorge Ramos’ interview with former Mexico president Vicente Fox:

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Jeb!’s nowhere to be found, but mom and dad arrive and get a Standing O. RNC chairman Reince Priebus asks George Sr. if he wants the chairman gig.

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And, if you thought Jorge Ramos’ interview with the former president of Mexico who vowed “I will not pay for that f**king bridge” was the best thing to happen to Donald Trump today in the walk-up to tonight’s debate, maybe you missed Vice President Joe Biden, in Mexico, apologizing to the current president of the country, for Trump.

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Next in the Daily News’ Donald Trump gallery of covers:

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Trump on report he brought thousands in to work at his hotels instead of hiring Americans: “You could not get help. It’s the hot season.”

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Who lifted the gag order on Rubio?

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Trump assumes air of stuffed cantaloupe-colored parrot being pecked at by two less colorful birds when Cruz and Rubio start smacking him….

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Ben Carson’s immigration policy: “I believe in liberty and justice for all.”

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In GOP debate first, Wolf Blitzer uses the “F-ing” world. Literally. He tells Trump former the former president of Mexico today said “I’m not going to pay for that F-ing wall.”
“And the wall just got 10 feet taller,” Trump said then, changing the subject somewhat,  “I saw him make that statement. He used a filthy disgusting word on television and he should apologize.”

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Rubio: “If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers he’ll be using illegal immigrants.””Such a cute soundbite,”  snarks Trump, but that’s all he’s got.
This is Rubio’s night.

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Telemundo anchor message to American public: Learn Spanish

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Kasich, on immigration debate, dusts off his “I’m the adult supervision here” speech.  But the moderators haven’t called on him for so long –  it’s new again.

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Telemundo anchor Maria Arras tells Trump Telemundo has a new Telemundo Poll showing Hispanics don’t like him and wonders what are his thoughts.
Trump: “First of all I don’t believe anything Telemundo says.”
She accuses Trump of flip-flopping, noting that in the past he has said he loves Telemundo.

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Cruz pushing an anti-Trump, anti-Art of the Deal line: To do a deal is to be a closet liberal.

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Donald Trump’s gutsiest move of the night: “I wouldn’t fund it because of the abortion factor, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.” And such is his power over the GOP crowd that they respond with applause. For Planned Parenthood.

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Has bravery broken out after Trump’s Planned Parenthood feat?  Kasich, in re the bakery that didn’t want to make wedding cake for gay couple claiming “religious liberty”: “If you don’t believe in their lifestyle, say a prayer for them when they leave” your shop.

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Rubio’s Revenge:

When he goes after Trump’s lack of detail on his health insurance “plan,” and says Trump is merely repeating his too-simplistic message every debate,  Trump shoots back, “I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago.”
Rubio is ready with,  “I watched him repeat himself four seconds ago.”

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Rubio s dominating on stage tonight and making Trump look like a dim bulb. Meanwhile, did Cruz go home?

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Anyone else looking forward to Trump’s Twitter-fest tonight?

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Trump lucks out and gets the Moderator Bail-Out when they switch to economy from health care just as the other candidates were ganging up on him about his lack of any detail on his health insurance plan to replace Obamacare.

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John Kasich gives answer to question that, loosely translated, reads:  Can I be Trump’s Veep.

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Meanwhile, this:

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Trump says he’s being audited so he can’t release his taxes.

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Hewitt reminds Trump he said on his radio show he would release his taxes. Trump: “First of all very few people listen to your radio show.” 

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Ted Cruz points out Hillary Clinton is winning tonight’s debate.

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Trump insists he’s the guy on stage who can beat Hillary: “Hillary Clinton? I beat her and I beat her badly  – and I haven’t even started on her!”

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Looks as though even the moderators have had enough:

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Cruz accuses Trump of having done little for Israel “in your nearly 70 years of living.”
Donald Trump’s snappy comeback:  “I marched in their parade.”

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Look who just showed up – Mitt!:

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Ben Carson whines he didn’t get to talk about taxes, though they’ve moved on to North Korea.
Moderators: “Go ahead. This is your moment.”

Carson: “I never had an audit, until I spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.”

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Ben Carson just won Best Line Of the Debate:
Donald Trump calls Rubio a choke artist and Cruz a liar.
Ben Carson: Can somebody attack me please?

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Debate taking on a post-traffic-accident scream-fest quality:

Trump on Cruz: “I funded this guy!”

Rubio: “You never funded me!”

Trump: “You know why!”

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Candidates are arguing over Apple and the locked terrorist phone. Meanwhile:

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Hooray — Closing Statement Time!

Ben Carson: I’ve had a movie made about my hands

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Kasich: One poll has me beating Hillary by 11 points.

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Rubio: Time for games is over. I’m anti-silliness, anti-looniness. 

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Cruz: I will investigate Planned Parenthood. Rip to shreds Iranian deal. Repeal Obamacare. Abolish IRS.

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Trump: Politicians are all talk, no action. I am the cantaloupe colored stuffed parrot who is going to Make America Great Again. 

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While Donald Trump delivers his debate post-mortem to Chris Cuomo, waxing eloquent about Rubio’s sweat, we’ll ponder who won tonight’s debate — Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. 

Good night!

Lisa de Moraes February 26, 201612:11 am

And, if you thought Jorge Ramos’ interview with the former president of Mexico who vowed “I will not pay for that f**king bridge” was the best thing to happen to Donald Trump today in the walk-up to tonight’s debate, be sure to take a look at Vice President Joe Biden, in Mexico, apologizing to the current president of the country, for Trump:

https://youtu.be/EOv-iNR-3og

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Trump explains report he brought overseas workers to his hotel in Florida instead of hiring Americans: “You could not get help. It’s the hot season.”

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Rubio: “If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers he’ll be using illegal immigrants.””Such a cute soundbite,”  snarks Trump, but that’s all he’s got.
This is Rubio’s night — just a couple months too late.

Lisa de Moraes February 26, 201612:22 am

Donald Trump’s gutsiest move of the night: “I wouldn’t fund it because of the abortion factor, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.” And,  so wowed is the GOP crowd by Trump, they respond with applause. For Planned Parenthood?

Lisa de Moraes February 26, 201612:35 am

Ben Carson just won Best Line Of the Debate:
Donald Trump calls Rubio a choke artist and Cruz a liar. Much squabbling ensues. Carson, who has had almost no speaking time tonight, jumps in: Can somebody attack me please?