Last night’s debate was another entertaining — if also somewhat terrifying — enterprise. The remaining candidates met in Houston in advance of next week’s Super Tuesday contests. Wolf Blitzer moderated the CNN-sponsored event, and George H.W. Bush was present in the audience alongside erstwhile First Lady Barbara Bush. They were very excited to finally get to see Jeb perform as the warm-up act for the crowd.
Below is my highly precise recap of the
Wolf Blitzer: Good evening and welcome to Texas. I’m your moderator. Everyone here anticipates a lively debate tonight, and I anticipate not letting things get totally, completely out of hand like last time. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Now please welcome your 3 remaining Republican candidates! Senator Ted Cruz of of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, and Businessman Donald Trump.
John Kasich and Ben Carson: (waving) We’re here too!
Wolf Blitzer: Oh yeah. And these two. Let’s go ahead and have opening statements.
Carson: Our country is falling into an abyss. So are the candidates on this stage. Let’s not destroy one another, guys, but rather the American people.
Kasich: Aw jeez. I can’t even believe I made it up here on this stage tonight! My parents were blue collar workers, their parents barely spoke English and their parents lived as pastoral nomads in the vast steppes of Mongolia. And look at me now! Just a working class kid who’s running to be the next Big Chief of America. What a land of dreams this is. Golly gee.
Rubio: I AM RONALD REAGAN.
Cruz: Texas. My people. Let’s do this thing (wink wink).
Trump: We don’t win anymore. America. We don’t win. We need to start winning, and I’m telling you, soon we will win. We will win, and we will win big. Believe me. We’ll win. All I do is win, win, win no matter what.
Blitzer: Thank you. Now on to questions. Mr. Trump, you’ve said that you’d let “good” undocumented immigrants return after being deported. Senator Cruz calls this amnesty. Is it?
Trump: Listen, the only reason anyone is even talking about immigration here is because of me bringing it up last year. So let’s not forget that. We have at least 11 million people who came into this country illegally. They will go out, some will come back, we’ll have a process for that, and they will go through it. The best ones will come back. Like with cattle. You sort through ’em, let the good ones stick around, send the sickly ones to the meat factory.
Blitzer: Senator Cruz, what’s wrong with Trump talking about these people in terms of “good ones” and “bad ones”? Is he stripping them of their humanity with these kinds of statements?
Cruz: You know Wolf, the people that get forgotten in this debate over immigration….
Blitzer: (eagerly) Yes…?!
Cruz: …are the hardworking men and women of this country who are losing their jobs due to illegal immigrants.
Blitzer: (deflated) Oh.
Cruz: Send them back. Send them all back.
Rubio: I’d just like to point out that Trump’s positions on immigration have changed pretty frequently over the years. He used to hire illegal immigrants to work in his hotel.
Trump: I mean yes, but the reason I hired those people was because no one here legally wanted to do those jobs.
Rubio: Actually, lots of people wanted to do those jobs. You hired workers from Poland…
Trump: Yeah, at least I’ve hired people. Who have you hired? Nobody. You’ve hired nobody.
Rubio: Yes, you’ve hired a thousand from another country…
Trump: Good luck with your credit cards.
Rubio: Google “Trump Polish workers” at home, everybody.
Trump: Be quiet. Let me talk. The laws were different back then. I’ve hired people. You people have done no hiring. I’VE HIRED!
Blitzer: Back to immigration. Senator Cruz, what would happen to children whose parents are deported under your plan?
Cruz: If they’re citizens, they can stay here. They’ll figure something out. Not really my problem, is it? Laws are laws. Also Donald Trump is a bad, bad guy.
Trump: Who do you even get along with, Cruz? Nobody. Not one Senator supports you.
Cruz: Yeah? And? I don’t want their “support.” I’m anti-Washington, remember? I’m an outsider, a maverick. I’m here for myself, and myself alone.
Blitzer: Um…don’t you mean you’re here for the American people, Ted?
Cruz: Yes, that’s right. That’s what I meant. “The people.” Thank you for that. (smug smile)
Blitzer: Let’s get Governor Kasich in on this, he’s been waiting patiently.
Kasich: Let’s be practical. Complete the border, allow people a path to legalization but not citizenship. Let’s not ride around tearing people from their homes. Have a realistic plan that reflects America. I can get it done.
(everyone looks confused)
Cruz: John, please. Check your reassonable ideas at the door, for God’s sake.
Blitzer: Dr. Carson? What do you think of Trump’s immigration plan?
Carson: I’m not answering a question about Trump. I’m still running too.
Blitzer: Are you?
Blitzer: Hmm. Okay. If you say so. But back to Trump. What do you think about Vicente Fox’s statement that he’s not going to pay for that “effing wall” between America and Mexico?
Trump: Well, the wall just got 10 feet taller, didn’t it?! And I am offended by his vulgar language, by the way. Absolutely f*#&#ing offended.
Rubio: I’m offended by your fake university, Donald.
Trump: This guy. This guy? Buys and house and sells it for more money to a lobbyist. This is our next president?
Rubio: Donald Trump would be selling watches if not for inheriting $200 million.
Trump: $1 million. I borrowed $1 million and turned it into $10 million.
Rubio: Better release your tax returns so we can see for ourselves.
Trump: (mutters something about finishing this outside)
Blitzer: Can I bring in Maria Celeste Arraras of Telemundo?
Arraras: Mr. Trump, you say that Hispanic people love you. How so?
Trump: They do love me. Everybody loves me. I settled my lawsuit with Univision, by the way. So we can be friends now.
Arraras: I’m with Telemundo.
Trump: Not the same thing?
Trump: Eh. Close enough.
Blitzer: Let’s turn to filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Scalia.
Cruz: I am the only one who can be trusted to appoint a principled constitutionalist to the Court. If you let anyone else try to do this, terrible things will happen. TERRIBLE THINGS. Send a message to 10 of your friends to vote for me, before midnight tonight, or you will be destined to never find love ever in your lifetime.
Hewitt: So talking about religious liberty. Would this be a litmus test for anyone you appoint? Mr. Trump?
Cruz: …says the guy who donated money to far-left liberal Democrats. He’s looking to cut a deal.
Trump: Better to cut a deal than to be standing alone in the Senate chamber talking for two days, like this guy did. When he was done, they got back to work. And by the way, my sister signed a bill that Justice Alito signed, and Ted was critical of it.
Trump: I demand an apology.
Cruz: I WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FOR DEFENDING THE CONSTITUTION.
Rubio: We can’t trust Trump to appoint a conservative justice. He recently supported Planned Parenthood!
Trump: Planned Parenthood does great things. It saves lives. Now do I support defunding it? Yes, because I’m pro-life. But it does great things. It’s a great organization. Good for women, bad for abortion. So defund it, but – good job, still, Planned Parenthood. Way to go.
Hewitt: Kasich? What do you think about religious liberty?
Kasich: Sell people cupcakes, guys. Sell allllllll the cupcakes.
Hewitt: Dr. Carson?
Carson: I love Scalia. Wait, what was the question? Was it about Scalia? I love him. And to replace him I would appoint someone only after looking through his life, associations, and judgments. The fruit salad of their life is what we have to look at. Is it delicious, or just so-so? Been sitting out too long? Covered in flies? So many kinds of fruit, so many types of salad, so many ways to slice it. A lot to consider.
Blitzer: Thank you…. Dana Bash, ask some questions about Obamacare.
Bash: Senator Rubio, what do you think of Trump’s thoughts on Obamacare?
Rubio: He favors the individual mandate.
Bash: Mr. Trump, is this true?
Trump: Let me just say that I favor pre-existing conditions. They are the only thing I favor related to Obamacare. Pre-existing conditions for all!
Rubio: You have no plan to offer to replace Obamacare.
Trump: False. I will remove lines on maps.
Rubio: That’s not a plan.
Trump: You get ride of the lines, it brings in competition.
Rubio: Again – not a plan.
Trump: You remove the lines, you have a lot of plans. You get competition. So many plans.
Rubio: Now he’s repeating himself. (BOOM. DROPS MIC.)
Cruz: Look, everyone. Donald loves Planned Parenthood, I hate them. I want to repeal Obamacare, Donald thinks it doesn’t go far enough. He’s a socialist on health care. A socialist!
Trump: I am not.
Cruz: Are too.
Trump: Am not.
Cruz: Are too.
Blitzer: Gentlemen, please…
Cruz: Yes or no. Socialist.
Trump: I know you are, but what am I?
Blitzer: You all agreed to the rules. YOU ALL AGREED, DAMN IT! Let’s talk about the economy.
Trump: Cut out the Department of Education. Cut out the EPA. Cut out all the agencies. Remove government and then we get money.
Blitzer: Removing those agencies won’t even cover the deficit. Where will you come up with money to balance the budget?
Trump: Waste, fraud and abuse.
Blitzer: As a plan, or….?
Trump: Pretty much.
Blitzer: So what about your taxes then? Mitt Romney says you should release them.
Trump: No can do, amigo. I’m being audited.
Hewitt: But Mr. Trump…
Trump: Why do you keep questioning me? Are you going to ask anyone else about this? I know I’m here for the ratings, but this is ridiculous.
Cruz: You should release your tax records, man.
Trump: I’m being AUDITED.
Cruz: For every year? Ever?
Blitzer: Okay gentlemen…
Blitzer: COMMERCIAL BREAK!
Blitzer: Okay, we’re back. I think I have control of things again. For now. Let’s talk about foreign policy and national security. Mr. Trump?
Trump: (mock disgust) Shocking.
Blitzer: You said you want to remain neutral on Israel and Palestine. How do you do that when Israel is considered the U.S.’s closest ally in the Middle East?
Trump: Well, first of all – Obama. I mean, yuck, right? Second of all, I have a lot of Israeli friends. They love me. Israel loves me, and I’m a pro-Israel guy. But I can’t go around demeaning neighbors here, because how does peace happen that way? So I want to encourage peace, so I can’t be anti-neighbor. That’s what I meant about neutrality. With that being said, of course, and without taking sides, I’m very pro-Israel.
Rubio: He thinks Palestine is a real-estate deal.
Trump: You are not a negotiator. You know nothing about it. You will never bring peace.
Blitzer: Let’s talk about North Korea.
Kasich: (talks about North Korea)
Blitzer: Dr. Carson?
Carson: OHHH EMMM GEEEE. Thanks for FINALLY calling on me. What happened to being fair? This is so not fair. I have a lot to say about other topics, like taxes.
Blitzer: Okay, go ahead.
Carson: Let’s get rid of the IRS. Okay? That’s one thing. Second thing – Israel. It’s like when you have kids, but you have a favorite kid – you know what I mean? That favorite kid is Israel. Third thing – North Korea. Listen to my detailed knowledge on this. I worked very, very hard to study this. THAAD? Robust naval presence? Strategic defense initiative? How do you like THEM apples?
Blitzer: Okay, moving on with national security.
Hewitt: What about the upcoming cease fire in Syria?
Trump: Meaningless. It’s not working.
Hewitt: It, um…it hasn’t actually started yet.
Trump: Doesn’t matter.
Cruz: Marco and Donald both agree with everything Obama and Clinton have done on foreign policy. Not to mention John Kerry. Can I even say that name without the taste of disgust in my mouth? Let me just tell you now, the answer to that is no. I cannot. His very name is filth!
Rubio: That’s true. Down with Kerry.
Trump: No argument here!
Rubio: P.S. – Donald writes checks to people who undermine Israel.
Trump: You are a liar and a choke-artist.
Carson: Can someone attack me, please?
(candidates continue arguing without Carson)
Cruz: Harry Reid loves Donald Trump. Harry and Donald, kissing in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G –
<Henry Kissinger, interrupts>
Kissinger: Did someone summon me?
Cruz: Sorry, no. Wrong debate.
Kissinger: (retreating) Sorry.
Cruz: As I was saying. He’s malleable, I’m not.
Trump: Cruz has done disgusting things this election. I know politicians very well.
Cruz: Yes, because you fund so many of them!
Trump: I funded you.
Blitzer: Gentlemen, come on….
Cruz: Is this going to be deducted from my time? I need more time.
Blitzer: You have to stop.
Cruz: He’s yelling.
Trump: I’M YELLING.
Blitzer: Let’s just get to closing statements already.
Carson: Look at my hands. Look at them! They made a movie about these hands. They are magical hands, and I hope you will hold them with me as we heal America together.
Kasich: I would appreciate your vote. I promise I’ll be better than anyone else up here. Or at least sane. At a minimum, I can promise sane.
Rubio: Did you see how I destroyed Donald tonight? DESTROYED. Vote for me, I have swagger. And moves like jagger. *sips water, then feigns boxing jabs*
Cruz: If you elect me, I promise to repeal everything, and I mean everything, ever.
Trump: Politicians are all talk. They don’t have real plans, they just make vague talking points over and over — like “be winners,” and “knock out ISIS,” and “make America great again.” Do you really want someone like this in the Oval Office? No, you don’t. It would be an utter disaster. Vote smarter, America.
Blitzer: It’s over. Thank God, it’s over.