Watch: Focus Group Just Revealed Landslide Winner Of GOP Debate – It Might Surprise You

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., came out swinging in Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate.

It was a difference in style and substance noted by members of a Texas focus group who overwhelmingly told Republican pollster Frank Luntz that Rubio was the debate’s winner.

Luntz released a breakdown of the 23 members of the group. Rubio was named the winner by 16 members; Donald Trump, 4; Ohio Gov. John Kasich, 2; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, 1. No one named Ben Carson, who at one point asked one of the candidates to attack him so he could get in on the action.

“He zinged [Donald] Trump several times,” one person said.

Rubio was called “knowledgeable about the issues” and “charming.”

“He didn’t seem like a mechanical robot, like he usually does when he comes on,” one participant said. “This time he was more personable, you know it was snap snap snap, it wasn’t something he memorized. It didn’t appear that way.”

Rubio started early, turning the first question he received on immigration away from the treacherous territory of past immigration bills he authored into an attack on Trump.

“You’re the only person on this stage that’s ever been fined for hiring people to work on your project illegally,” Rubio said, referring to the illegal use of Polish workers on past construction projects that were part of one of Trump’s enterprises.

Rubio also attacked Trump for having a “fake school,” referring to lawsuits aimed at Trump University alleging fraud and deception and said was a child of privilege.

Trump defended himself and at one point dismissively waved off Rubio’s comments, saying the case Rubio was referring to happened 38 years before. “I guess there’s a statute of limitations on lies,” Rubio retorted.

 

“If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan,” Rubio said.

h/t: TheBlaze

Trump And Rubio Had An Epic Debate Battle. Then Rubio Sent The Crowd Into A Frenzy With 5 Words

About half way through the final Republican debate, an entertaining moment occurred when Marco Rubio took the offensive against Trump’s healthcare proposal.

Pressing Donald to explain his healthcare proposal, Rubio asked, “What is your plan [Donald], I understand the lines around the states, whatever that means, this is not a game where you draw maps around, what is your plan?”

“You know I watched him melt down two weeks ago with Chris Christie, I gotta tell ya, the biggest problem he’s got is he doesn’t know about the lines … the reason we have no competition is because we have lines around the state,” said Trump.

“So you’re only thing is to get rid of the lines around the states, what else is part of your plan? I’ll give him time of mine so he can tell us his plan,” said Rubio.

“When you get rid of the lines it brings in competition, you’ll have many, they’ll compete, and it’ll be a beautiful thing,” responded Trump.

But Rubio continued to push Trump for something specific and more detailed than just removing the lines. “You’ll have competition, you’ll have so many different plans,” explained Trump.

In a surprising moment of humor Marco said with a grin, “but now he’s repeating himself,” clearly referencing his own blunder at the previous debate.

“No, no, I don’t repeat myself,” Trump said, looking irritated. “Here’s the guy who repeats himself,” Trump exclaimed, pointing at Rubio.

“You don’t repeat yourself?” Rubio asked now visibly laughing. “You repeat yourself everyday.”

“Talking about repeating, I watched him repeat himself five times four weeks ago,” responded Trump.

“And I saw you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago,” said Rubio. “I see him repeat himself every night, he says five things. Everyone is dumb, gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win win win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the state,” Marco finished to a thundering applause from the crowd.

The same back and forth continued a little longer, but if the crowd’s reaction was any indication, it seems as if Rubio scored some points against Trump this time around.

Trump Got WAY Personal With Cruz At Debate… Then Cruz Dropped A Bombshell

Following the initial debate on immigration, Trump and Cruz found themselves going at it again, this time over who would do better in Washington.

“I’ve had an amazing relationship with politicians, both Democrat and Republican, because I was a businessman … I got along with everybody. You get along with nobody,” Trump said, pointing at Cruz.

Trump continued, “you don’t have one Republican, you don’t have one Republican senator and you work with them every day of your life … but you don’t have one Republican senator backing you, not one, you don’t have the endorsement of one Republican senator and you work with these people, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Cruz didn’t take this lying down and hit back at Trump hard. “You know I actually think Donald is right, he is promising if he’s elected he will go and cut deals in Washington. And he’s right, he has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats.”

But it didn’t stop there for Cruz, “Anyone who really cared about illegal immigration wouldn’t be hiring illegal immigrants. Anyone who really cared about illegal immigration wouldn’t be funding Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, wouldn’t be funding the Gang of Eight.”

“And you know, he is right, when you stand up to Washington, when you honor the promise you have made to the men and women who elected you and say enough with the corruption, enough with the cronyism, lets actually stand for the working men and women of this country, Washington doesn’t like it. And Donald, if you wanna be liked in Washington, that’s not a good attribute for a president,” said Cruz.

Donald had the final word, mocking Ted Cruz as “Robin Hood” who was going to stand against corruption while also taking loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

“This is Robin Hood, he talks about corruption, on his financial disclosure form he didn’t even put that he’s borrowed money from Citibank and Goldman Sachs … he just left it off and now he’s going to protect the people from the big bad banks,” Trump exclaimed.

While it is true that Cruz has taken loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank, he has addressed these allegations in the past, claiming the loans were disclosed through multiple sources.

GOP Candidates Debate Amnesty

In the first heated segment of the night, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz went at it over the topic of illegal immigration, with each candidate claiming they were the strongest opponents of amnesty.

The initial question – leveled at Trump – asked if he supported amnesty due to his claims that the “good ones [illegals]” will come back under his plan.

“We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally. They will go out, they will come back, some will come back, the best, through a process … it may not be a very quick process, but I think that’s very fair and very fine,” said Trump.

Cruz responded to this by citing the dramatic benefits the state of Arizona has seen since they adopted tough laws on illegal immigrants, which has caused illegals to flee the state.

“The dollars they [Arizona] are spending on welfare, on prison, on education, all of those have dropped by hundreds of millions of dollars, and the Americans, and for that matter the legal immigrants who are in Arizona, are seeing unemployment drop, are seeings wages rise, that’s who we should be fighting for,” said Cruz.

Most importantly, Cruz voiced his opinion that it would be unfair to reward any lawlessness on behalf of illegal immigrants, regardless of whether they are the best. “I think it is a mistake to forgive those who break law, to allow them to become U.S. citizens, and that’s why I’ve led the fight against granting citizenship to those here illegally,” Cruz said.

Trump responded to this by citing his recent endorsement by Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona, who is largely regarded as “America’s toughest sheriff.”

“Well, I’m very glad that Ted mentioned Arizona, because probably the toughest man on borders is Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and two days ago, he totally endorsed me, so thank you,” Trump responded.

Not to miss an opportunity to jab both his top opponents, Marco Rubio claimed that Cruz was not always tough on immigration, but more importantly that Donald Trump has made a practice of hiring and rewarding illegal immigrants.

“In 2011, he [Cruz] talked about a pathway to citizenship. In 2012, Donald criticized Mitt Romney, saying Mitt lost his election because of self deportation, and so even today we have a report that Donald, you’ve hired a significant number of people from other countries to take jobs that Americans could have filled,:” Rubio said. He continued, “My mom was a maid at a hotel, and instead of hiring an American like her you’ve brought in over a thousand people from all over the world to fill those jobs instead. So I think this is an important issue.”

Trump rebuffed these accusations by claiming the times he hired illegals were during the height of the season in Miami when he couldn’t find Americans to take the part time, low income positions.

Marco countered this by citing that Donald has even been fined for hiring illegal workers, to which Trump rebuttled, “I’m the only one on the stage who has hired people!”

Exposed: Obama Admin Caught Making Illegal Move That Makes ObamaCare Look Even Worse

The Obama administration has been caught — once again — seeking to circumvent the law related to Obamacare by diverting billions in funds intended for the U.S. Treasury to cover private insurance companies’ losses.

In 2014, Sen. Marco Rubio inserted language into the omnibus spending bill which specifically barred the Department of Health and Human Services from dipping into the general funds of the Treasury to bailout failing insurance companies, the Washington Post reported.

Marc Thiessen, writing for the Post, observed that the provision is “quietly killing” Obamacare, while the New York Times headlined in December, “Marco Rubio Quietly Undermines Affordable Care Act.” The Hill called the provision, “the biggest blow in the GOP’s five-year war against Obamacare.”

Both the Post and the Times pointed out that private insurers have been taking heavy losses participating in the healthcare exchanges, and to entice them to stay, the Obama administration was subsidizing the companies with taxpayer dollars.

According to the Times report, in 2014 “insurers lost $2.9 billion more than expected on Obamacare…Thanks to Rubio’s provision, the administration was allowed to pay only 13 cents of every dollar insurers requested. Without the taxpayer bailouts, more than half of the Obamacare insurance cooperatives created under the law failed.”

Several insurers have pulled out of the remaining exchanges. United Healthcare and Aetna, two of the nation’s largest providers, have indicated they are considering pulling out of Obamacare altogether, due to the billions in losses they have sustained.  

As a means of mitigating the disastrous financial impact of the law on insurers, the Obama administration announced earlier this month it will hand out $7.7 billion to companies from fees collected through the ACA. The only problem is $2 billion of that money is supposed to go the Treasury’s general funds.

Doug Badger, a senior fellow with the Galen Institute, writes the “reinsurance fee” is $107 for every man, woman and child with a private health plan, which adds up to billions in collections each year.

“The law states a fixed share ‘shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used’ to offset insurance companies’ losses. But the administration gave all of it to the insurance companies last year, and got away with that heist. So they’re trying it again,” Betsy McCaughey wrote in Investors Business Daily.

According to Badger, the amount the Treasury is supposed to receive — but won’t because the Obama administration has directed it be paid to private insurers — is $3.5 billion over the two years.

The Daily Signal reported Thursday that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the multi-billion dollar transfer of taxpayer money.

“[Earlier this month], the administration announced that they would be using billions of taxpayer dollars to make payments to insurance companies under the Obamacare reinsurance program,” Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Penn., a member of the committee said Wednesday during a hearing with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “The announcement that the administration made represents an illegal wealth transfer from hardworking taxpayers to insurers.” 

The Ways and Means Committee has also taken up the issue. Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas; Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Peter Roskam, R-Ill.; and Subcommittee on Health Chairman Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, asked Burwell for documents related to the reinsurance program in a letter sent Feb. 9.

“It appears that the administration has illegally diverted funds from the U.S. Treasury to fund the transitional reinsurance program established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” they wrote. “Not only is this diversion inconsistent with past policies promulgated by the administration but it is incompatible with clear congressional instructions contained within the ACA. We ask that HHS immediately submit to the Treasury all diverted funds.”

The Obama administration’s diversion of funds is just the latest example of changing provisions of ACA without congressional approval. Other instances included delaying implementation of the employer mandate twice, delaying the individual mandate for two years, and not creating a means to adequately verify whether those signing up were actually eligible for health care subsidies.