Republican Presidential Debate: 5 Moments That Mattered

Four GOP presidential hopefuls faced off in Detroit.

ByABC News
March 3, 2016, 11:39 PM

— -- It is perhaps no surprise that amid a campaign that has become all about Donald Trump, Thursday night’s Republican debate was also all about the real estate mogul.

The frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination took incoming fire from his rivals and dished out attacks. He was forced, by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and the Fox News moderators to defend his record, most notably the controversy over Trump University.

In his responses, Trump dismissed Rubio as “little Marco” and Cruz and “lying Ted.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, tried to stay above the fray.

“Throughout this campaign, I have talked about issues,” he said. “I have never tried to go and get into these kind of scrums that we are seeing here on the stage and people say wherever I go, ‘you seem to be the adult on the stage.’”

At one point, during a heated exchange between Trump and Rubio, Cruz interjected a question: “Is this the debate you want playing out in the general election?”

Nevertheless, as the debate concluded and Cruz, Kasich and Rubio were all asked whether they would support Trump if he were the nominee, all three said yes.

Here are five moments that mattered at the GOP debate in Detroit:

1. Trump Gets Vulgar

Near the beginning of the debate, Rubio was asked about his decision to personally attack Trump, when he said previously he would not.

Rubio said he would rather have a policy debate rather than a personal-insult fest, and Trump agreed saying of Rubio, "He's really not much of a lightweight.”

Then, talking about Rubio’s insults, the debate went vulgar: “And he referred to my hands if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there is no problem. I guarantee you.”

2. Trump and Kelly Meet Again

“Mr. Trump, Hi. How are you doing?"

These were moderator Megyn Kelly’s first in-person words to Trump on a debate stage since last August after Trump refused to participate in the most recent Fox News debate.

“Hello. Nice to be with you, Megyn,” Trump said. “You’re looking well, you’re looking well.”

She asked whether Trump would release off-the-record comments made to the New York Times about immigration. “I would never release off-the-record conversations,” he said. “I don't think it's fair, frankly, to do that to anybody.”

Trump has repeatedly denied the fraud accusations in court papers and on the campaign trail, insisting tonight that he will win the case.

5.Yoga Time

It was more schoolyard taunts, a common theme throughout the debate. Cruz said Trump has a “tenuous relationship with the truth,” and Trump kept trying to interrupt him.

“Donald, please, I know it's hard not to interrupt. Try,” Cruz said.

He kept interrupting and Cruz tried a different tactic: “Breathe, breathe, breathe.”

“I am, Ted,” Trump answered.

“You can do it,” Cruz snapped back. “You can breathe. I know it's hard. I know it's hard.”

Rubio then jumped in: When they're done with the yoga, can I answer a question?”

Cruz ended the back and forth saying, “You cannot, in fact, care about conservative Supreme Court justices and support Jimmy Carter for president. You cannot care about conservative Supreme Court justices and support John Kerry.”