Republican Candidates in Battle Royale

Republican Candidates in Battle RoyaleRepublican Candidates in Battle Royale

The sixth Republican presidential debate came just two weeks before the first real test of the campaign, when voters in Iowa pick their Republican and Democratic choices for president.

Issues of national security, the economy and foreign policy have played heavily in the debate.

The debate was the political equivalent of a wrestling “battle royale”, where fists fly, chairs are thrown, the crowd cheers and the referees flee for safety.

There could have been no clearer indication that the Cruz-Trump honeymoon is over. The two candidates who stand atop the Republican presidential opinion polls had exchanged warm words through much of the campaign, but with the Iowa caucuses just two weeks away, the niceties have melted away, BBC reported.

In the polls, the pair are leading the five other candidates who were also on the stage in North Charleston.

They exchanged barbs over Cruz’s Canadian birthplace and Trump’s alleged liberal “New York values”.

From there, numerous side fights broke out. Rubio v Christie over Christie’s tenure as New Jersey governor. Trump v Kasich, Rubio v Bush on trade. Rubio v Cruz on immigration. Each candidate could boast a strong moment or two, but each also felt the sting of their competitors’ barbs.

A battle royale is supposed to end when only one participant is left standing. In Charleston, however, all the candidates survived, but all were bloodied.

The event hosted by Fox Business Network came after days of Cruz and Trump taking shots at each other, shattering a months-long period of goodwill between the two men.

The start of hostilities began a week ago when the billionaire businessman started raising questions about whether the Texas senator’s birth in Canada put his eligibility in doubt.

But on the debate stage on Thursday night, Cruz said there was “zero chance” of a lawsuit succeeding, because the constitution’s definition of “natural born citizens” included people born to an American parent.

Cruz was born in Calgary to an American mother and a Cuban father.

But the business mogul stood firm, noting that a Harvard law scholar had raised doubts and Cruz could face lawsuits by Democrats wishing to challenge his qualification.

They also argued over the meaning of “New York values”, which Cruz threw at the New York billionaire as a slur on his conservative credentials.

But the New Yorker said that was an insult to the “great people” who pulled together after the 9/11 attacks.

After the debate, Trump told reporters: “I guess the bromance is over.”

All the candidates targeted leading Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who was repeatedly attacked for her time as secretary of state.

The primary contests, in which each party picks their nominee for president, begin in February and the presidential election is in November.