Caitlin Huey-Burns, Real Clear Politics:
CLEVELAND—If you tuned into the Republican primary debate Thursday night to see Donald Trump do Donald Trump, you were not left wanting. But perhaps more noteworthy were the candidates who refused to be outshined by the unfiltered New York real estate mogul and celebrity.
Trump kicked off the debate by saying he would not rule out a third party bid for the presidency, which fired up the audience and made his rivals look all the better in comparison. The candidates farthest behind Trump in national polls seemed to benefit most from his presence, on a night when media exposure was priceless…
Rubio had perhaps the most compelling performance, reminding voters of his humble beginnings and pointing out the contrasts between Hillary Clinton and himself. “If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck?” Rubio continued. “I was raised paycheck to paycheck.”
Facing criticisms of inexperience and youth, Rubio said, “This election cannot be a resume competition. It’s important to be qualified, but if this election is a resume competition, then Hillary Clinton’s going be the next president, because she’s been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight.”
Rubio, who has come under fire for abandoning a comprehensive immigration bill he sponsored and voted for, said the need for reform is imperative.
“Let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates: the people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States,” he said. “And they’ve paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can’t get in. And they’re wondering, maybe they should come illegally. … It’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and otherwise we’re going to keep talking about this for the next 30 years, like we have for the last 30 years.”