Fiorina Shines as Candidates Pile on Trump in Debate
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. -- Coming in, the bullseye was squarely on frontrunner Donald Trump. His style is rubbing some of his fellow Republicans the wrong way and it showed -- quickly.
"I think his response, his -- his visceral response to attack people on their appearance -- short, tall, fat, ugly -- my goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that?" Sen. Rand Paul said.
"I never attacked him on his look, and believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there," Trump replied.
That eventually led to the moment people wanted: Carly Fiorina face-to-face with Trump for the first time since he made a critical comment, wondering if anyone would vote for "that face." He said he meant her persona, but Fiorina challenged him.
"I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," she responded.
Trump tried to play nice.
"I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman," Trump replied.
But playtime turned mean when they discussed Fiorina's past CEO experience, which ended with layoffs and her out of a job.
"So I only say this. She can't run any of my companies. That I can tell you," Trump said.
"Mr. Trump, I find it quite rich that you would talk about this," Fiorina said. "You know, there are a lot of us Americans who believe that we are going to have trouble someday paying back the interest on our debt because politicians have run up mountains of debt using other people's money."
"That is, in fact, precisely the way you ran your casinos. You ran up mountains of debt, as well as losses, using other people's money, and you were forced to file for bankruptcy, not once, but four times," she said.
Tired of the back-and-forth, one candidate saw an opportunity and took it.
"You're both successful people. Congratulations. You know who's not successful? The middle class in this country who's getting plowed over by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton," fellow candidate Chris Christie said. "Let's start talking about those issues tonight and stop this childish back-and-forth between the two of you."
But that's Trump's style and he showed it by going after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's brother and former president.
"Your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected," Trump said.
"You know what? As it relates to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe," Bush replied.
Other candidates tried to make their mark over the three-hour event, like Ben Carson, a strong second in the polls.
"We now have over 500,000 donations, and the money is coming in. But the pundits forgot about one thing and that is the people. And they are really in charge," Carson said.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich had a reminder for everyone.
"I'm the only person on the stage and one of the few people in this country that led the effort as the chief architect of the last time we balanced the federal budget," Kasich said.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had religious liberty on his mind and the double standard that Christians encounter.
"We made accommodation to the Fort Hood shooter to let him grow a beard," Huckabee said. "You're telling me that you cannot make an accommodation for an elected Democrat county clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky?"
A lighter moment came toward the end of the debate when the candidates were asked what they'd like to be called by the Secret Service as president.
Bush, who's been accused by Trump of having low energy, and Trump, who has a healthy ego, were both ready.
"Ever Ready, it's very high energy, Donald," Bush said.
"Humble," Trump said to laughter.
Candidates have more than a month to get ready for the next debate in Colorado. By then, we could know whether the "Summer of Trump" is on an extended run or the leaves turn and we're talking about the "Fall of Donald Trump."