Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio have unleashed a barrage of attacks on front-runner Donald Trump in the last debate before next Tuesday’s pivotal US primaries, BBC reports. Immigration, healthcare and outreach to Latino voters dominated the debate, which disintegrated into long periods of shouting and personal insults.
Mr Trump has won three of the first four contests held so far. Next week’s vote in 11 states is held on what is known as Super Tuesday. The three men are seeking to be named as the Republican candidate in November’s presidential election.
Mr Rubio, who has come second in several recent contests, mounted a series of attacks on Mr Trump. “If he hadn’t inherited $200m, you know where Donald Trump would be?” Mr Rubio said in one tense exchange. “Selling watches in Manhattan.” Mr Rubio also criticised Mr Trump’s failed online education venture, Trump University, and assailed him for hiring foreign workers rather than Americans in his construction projects.
Mr Trump shot back: “I hired tens of thousands of people. You’ve hired nobody.” The billionaire real estate mogul found himself increasingly on the defensive about his business dealings and his conservative credentials. Mr Trump has been extremely popular despite his controversial comments about deporting millions of undocumented workers and banning Muslims from travelling to the US.
He is currently leading in 10 out of 11 states holding contests on Super Tuesday when a quarter of the total numbers of delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination will be up for grabs. He has 82 Republican party delegates, Mr Cruz has 17 and Mr Rubio has 16. To become the Republican party’s nominee, a candidate has to have 1,237 total state delegates.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will compete for 1,004 delegates on Super Tuesday. So far, Mrs Clinton has 505 delegates and Mr Sanders has 71. Each party formally announces its presidential candidate at conventions in July, four months before the presidential election.