The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

No Trump, but still a debate



DES MOINES — Seven Republican presidential candidates took a few swipes at each other, but lacking front-runner Donald Trump, the final debate before the Iowa caucuses was devoid of the fireworks of previous events.

“It was certainly interesting without Mr. Trump there; he was still the main focus of the debate even though he was absent,” said Jeff Jorgensen, the Pottawattamie County GOP head. “A lot of intra-debating that you wouldn’t normally see with a Trump there. I think we certainly missed him.”

Sans Trump, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Ted Cruz of Texas were joined by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on the stage at the Iowa Events Center just four days before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

RELATED: Trump steals the show

Afterwards, those stumping for the candidates said that without, Trump their candidates got more time to speak, but they also had a much more respectful discussion.

“It was less about the show and more about the issues, which is where Ted shines,” said Matt Schultz, the chairman of Cruz’s Iowa campaign.

But breaking out of Trump’s shadow — he led Google searches in every state for the entire night — might be a difficult hurdle for the candidate.

“I think there are a couple of things about the debate; there’s the debate, and then there’s Trump,” said Dallas County GOP head Tyler De Haan. “I think at the end of the day, the question is the candidates with debate performance going to get through the media coverage of Trump not being there.”

Touching on an issue that has divided a lot of the field, Fox News host Megyn Kelly challenged Rubio, who might be trending as high as third in Iowa, about his past stance on comprehensive immigration reform.

Rubio protested Kelly’s wording and said that his first priority would be to secure the border and keep America safe against ISIS.

“There will be a process; we will see what the American people are willing to support,” he said. “But it will not be unconstitutional executive actions like Barack Obama has done.”

Kelly then turned to Bush, who endorsed Rubio during his Senate primary in 2010. Bush said Rubio had changed his position on the issue.

“Marco, I have supported a consensus approach to this problem whenever this issue has come up,” Bush said. “There’s never going to be a perfect bill. You shouldn’t cut and run, you should stick with it.”

Cruz, who has long been a critic of immigration reform, was showed his own words from a Senate committee hearing and the floor of the Senate that would have put legal status for citizenship off the table. Business mogul Donald Trump has argued that Cruz is weaker on the issue than he is — an attack Rubio has echoed.

“I have an immigration plan on my website that was designed by Iowa’s own Congressman Steve King and Sen. Jeff Sessions,” Cruz said aligning himself with hard-liners on the issue.

Paul said Cruz could not have it both ways on “amnesty” issue.

With Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad in the room, Cruz was asked about his position on ethanol. Branstad has said it would be a mistake for Iowans to vote for Cruz given his position on the issue.

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