The Republican presidential field piled on front-runner Donald Trump during Wednesday’s second GOP debate, seeking to raise questions about his temperament, business record and overall fitness for office.
Trump’s rivals went after him from the outset, when former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and businesswoman Carly Fiorina refused to say they were comfortable with having Trump’s fingers on America’s nuclear codes in response to a question from CNN moderator Jake Tapper.
Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed with comments that went a step further.
“We don’t need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now,” quipped Walker of Trump, the former host of NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump responded, as he often does, with humor and defiance.
He insisted his temperament was “very good,” then questioned why Paul was on the stage.
“Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s No. 11, he’s at 1 percent in polls,” Trump said
And Trump, who has mocked Paul for being short, disputed the notion that he had earlier attacked the Kentucky senator’s looks.
“I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there,” he said.
Those exchanges set the tone for a long night onstage for the candidates, who endured a three-hour prime-time debate.
It was a night filled with attacks — most of them targeted at Trump.
While Fiorina and Bush treated Trump carefully on the first question, they later turned up their own attacks.
Bush said being president “will require a steadiness” and “understanding of how the world works” that Trump doesn’t have.
He also sought to highlight Trump’s past as a Democrat and claimed the billionaire once pressed him to make casino gambling legal in Florida when he was governor.
“When he asked Florida to have casino gambling, we said no,” Bush said.
Trump denied the claims as the two repeatedly spoke over one another.
“Don’t make things up, Jeb,” Trump said.