Sen. Marco Rubio won Thursday’s GOP debate hands down. During the FoxNews/Google debate, Rubio once again demonstrated that he is the most articulate presidential candidate. As he has done in all seven GOP debates, Rubio answered some very tough questions and always responded with answers that sounded heartfelt, sincere and polished but not slick. Rubio, during the heat of a nationally televised debate, manages to offer reassurance, hope and inspiration. And he does that while staying on target — focusing more on the potential Democrat opponents. And last night he did so with tough moderators who gave no quarter, so much so that Donald Trump chose to cut and run rather than stand and duke it out in seventh Debate.
This video clip released by the Rubio campaign was one of the key moments of the debate and makes the point. It came after a question, by Megyn Kelly to Jeb Bush asking if the attack ads against fellow Republican candidates instead of Hillary by Bush supporting Super PACs do more harm than good:
BAIER: Senator Rubio, first before I ask you a question, any response to Governor Bush?
RUBIO: Well, I believe, and I know that if Iowa helps make me the Republican nominee, I will defeat Hillary Clinton. Hillary doesn’t want to run against me, but I cannot wait to run against her. And I cannot wait to earn the opportunity to do it because she cannot be the president of the United States.
She wants to put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court of the United States of America. She said that here in Iowa just two days ago. That would be a disaster for this country.
So I hope and pray and cannot wait until this state and others give me an opportunity to serve this party as its nominee because I will defeat Hillary Clinton.
BAIER: Now let’s talk about electability, Senator. TIME magazine once called you “the Republican savior.” Rush Limbaugh and others said you likely will be president some day.
But if you look at the recent average of polls in your home state of Florida, you’re in third trailing Donald Trump by 24 points. If the people who know you best have you there, why should the rest of the country elect you?
RUBIO: Well, let me be clear about one thing, there’s only one savior and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ who came down to earth and died for our sins.
RUBIO: And so — and I’ve always made that clear about that cover story.
As far as the polls are concerned, Iowa, on Monday night you’re going to go to a caucus site and you’ll be the first Americans that vote in this election. You will be the first Americans that get to answer the fundamental question, what comes next for this country after seven disastrous years of Barack Obama?
And let me tell you what the answer better not be. It better not be Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. I think Bernie Sanders is good candidate for president of Sweden.
We don’t want to be Sweden. We want to be the United States of America.
And Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being the commander-in-chief of the United States. In fact, one of her first acts as president may very well be to pardon herself because Hillary Clinton…
Hillary Clinton stored classified information on her private server. And Hillary Clinton lied to the families of those four brave Americans who lost their life in Benghazi. And anyone who lies to the families of Americans who have died in the service of this country can never be commander-in-chief of the United States.
BAIER: Thank you, Senator.
In the heat of the moment Rubio also manages to stay calm, humble and appropriately humorous.
Rubio even handled a gotcha immigration reform question from Megyn — complete with three video clips:
KELLY: Welcome back everyone. Live, in Des Moines, Iowa. Now, we move onto the topic of immigration. Senator Rubio, we’ll start with you. When you ran for Senate in 2010, you made clear that you opposed legalization and citizenship for illegal immigrants. You promised repeatedly that you would oppose it as a U.S. Senator as well. Here are just a few examples. Watch.
[VIDEO CLIPS Shown]
KELLY: Within two years of getting elected you were co-sponsoring legislation to create a path to citizenship, in your words, amnesty. Haven’t you already proven that you cannot be trusted on this issue?
RUBIO: No, because if you look at the quote, and it’s very specific. And, it says blanket amnesty, I do not support blanket amnesty…
KELLY: … But, you went on from there…
RUBIO: … I do not support amnesty…
KELLY: … You said more than that, Senator…
RUBIO: … No, I said I do not support blanket amnesty…
KELLY: … You said earned path to citizenship is basically code for amnesty. You…
RUBIO: … It was…
KELLY: … supported earned path to citizenship…
RUBIO: … It absolutely has been, and at the time in the context of that was in 2009, and 2010, where the last effort for legalization was an effort done in the Senate. It was an effort led by several people that provided almost an instant path with very little obstacles moving forward.
What I’ve always said is that this issue does need to be solved. They’ve been talking about this issue for 30 years, and nothing ever happens. And, I’m going to tell you exactly how we’re going to deal with it when I am president.
Number one, we’re going to keep ISIS out of America. If we don’t know who you are, or why you’re coming, you will not get into the United States.
Number two, we’re going to enforce our immigration laws. I am the son and grandson of immigrants. And I know that securing our borders is not anti-immigrant and we will do it.
We’ll hire 20,000 new border agents instead of 20,000 new IRS agents. We will finish the 700 miles of fencing and walls our nation needs. We’ll have mandatory E-verify, a mandatory entry/exit tracking system and until all of that is in place and all of that is working and we can prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control, nothing else is going to happen.
We are not going to round up and deport 12 million people, but we’re not going to hand out citizenship cards, either. There will be a process. We will see what the American people are willing to support. But it will not be unconstitutional executive orders like the ones Barack Obama has forced on us.
During the debate I thought Kelly was very annoying there. She could have let Rubio answer the question and then engage in the back and forth — he said, you said exchange. Upon further reelection, the exchange permitted Rubio to display his terrific political skills. This response was a much better than what Rubio said on NBC’s Meet the Press a week ago.
As to the rest of the field, During the debate I thought Cruz had an off night. But after reading the transcript and watching video clips, I think Cruse did well. Jeb Bush may have his best night, was that because Trump was AWOL. Rand Paul had his best debate as well. The other participant? Well at least they showed up, unlike Trump.