LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The top 10 Republican presidential candidates sparred in the first presidential debate of the 2016 campaign season in Cleveland on Thursday night.
The debate gave voters their first glimpse of billionaire Donald Trump sharing the stage with the other front-runners, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Trump got the debate off to a dramatic start when he stated he was unwilling to guarantee his support to another Republican candidate – forgoing an independent run – should he not win the Republican nomination.
He was the only candidate to say so, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took the opportunity to attack Trump’s commitment to the Republican Party.
“He is already hedging his bet on the Clintons,” Paul said. “If he doesn’t run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent.”
Trump continued to stir controversy later by declining to backtrack from comments he’s made in the past in which he has called women “fat pigs” or “slobs,” saying he does not have time for complete political correctness.
“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct,” Trump said. “I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness.
Trump did yield the spotlight on occasion, however.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Paul engaged in a heated argument over the mass collection of data on U.S. citizens. Paul claimed he would collect more data on terrorists and less data on general members of the public, but Christie said Paul was unqualified to make that promise.
“Listen, Senator. When you’re sitting in a subcommittee, just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that,” Christie said.
Bush also acknowledged that his brother former President George W. Bush was mistaken to lead the country into a war in Iraq, given the faulty intelligence used to justify the campaign.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tried to characterize himself as a fresh face for the country’s next chapter.
“This election better be about the future, not the past,” he said. “If this election is a resume competition, then Hillary Clinton is the next president.”