Washington, Sep 17 (IANS) For once, the usually brash Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump was on the defensive with his rivals sort of ganging-up to corner him during the second presidential debate,
Former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina, who literally fought her way to the main stage with a forceful performance at the first debate last month, and establishment favourite Jeb Bush particularly seized their opportunities Wednesday.
The first question during CNN’s prime-time Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, went to Fiorina.
She was asked about Trump’s recent comment about her to Rolling Stone: “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” The real estate mogul later suggested that he was not talking about her appearance, but her persona.
But Fiorina would not buy that. She shot back: “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
Oddly Trump seemed uninterested in hitting back. “I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman,” he said.
Minutes later, Asked to respond to Trump’s controversial remarks about Bush’s wife – “If my wife were from Mexico, I think I would have a soft spot for people from Mexico” – Bush gestured to his wife in the audience and asked for an apology.
Trump declined, adding: “No, I won’t do that because I said nothing wrong, but I hear she’s a lovely woman.”
Trump, however, did seize some opportunities to attack his opponents. Right at the beginning without being prompted, he went after Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
“Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage, he’s number 11,” Trump said.
Paul responded that Trump was “sophomoric” and scolded him for criticizing people’s physical appearance.
Trump responded: “I never attacked him on his looks and believe me there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”
Trump also pounced on Fiorina’s controversial tenure as head of Hewlett-Packard.
Her leadership at the firm “led to the destruction of the company,” Trump said. “She can’t run any of my companies-that I can tell you.”
An uncharacteristically combative Bush, meanwhile, accused Trump of buying influence: “You got Hillary Clinton to go to your wedding.”
“Excuse me, Jeb, I got along with Clinton, I got along with everybody,” Trump responded. “Excuse me.”
Jeb cut in with a curt: “No.”
“More energy tonight-I like that,” joked Trump, who has been criticising Bush repeatedly for lacking in charisma.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also took an early shot at Trump.
“We don’t need an apprentice in the White House-we have one right now,” he said referring to Obama.
“Please understand that we have to win this election.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)