News / USA

    Republican Candidates Spar Over Immigration, Foreign Policy

    During a Republican presidential candidates' debate, businessman Donald Trump, center, reacts to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, right, as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio looks on, in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016.
    During a Republican presidential candidates' debate, businessman Donald Trump, center, reacts to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, right, as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio looks on, in Houston, Texas, Feb. 25, 2016.
    VOA News

    The latest debate among Republican candidates for the U.S. presidency Thursday turned into a shouting match as the candidates tackled issues such as illegal immigration, U.S. policy in the Middle East and transparency of candidates' tax records.

    Billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump repeated his claim that he would make Mexico pay for the wall he has proposed building on the U.S. southern border to curb illegal immigration. Because of objections from Mexican leaders on the issue, he said, "the wall just got 10 feet higher."

    His closest rivals, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, accused Trump of using illegal immigrant labor in some of his high-profile building projects. Both said Trump was forced to pay a $1 million fine for hiring illegal immigrants.

    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, speaks at a rally in Reno, Nevada, Feb. 22, 2016. Both Rubio and Cruz stated their willingness to make public their tax records and criticized Trump for demurring on the issue.
    FILE - Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, speaks at a rally in Reno, Nevada, Feb. 22, 2016. Both Rubio and Cruz stated their willingness to make public their tax records and criticized Trump for demurring on the issue.

    Taxing discussion

    Both Rubio and Cruz stated their willingness to make public their tax records and criticized Trump for demurring on the issue. Trump said he would publish his tax records only after what he called "a routine audit." It's common practice for U.S. presidential candidates to publicly release their tax records, though they're only required to submit a financial disclosure form to the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.  

    Answering a question on foreign policy, Trump said he would not support the cease-fire deal set to take place in Syria.

    And he said he believes Libya, now embroiled in civil war, would have been better off if former leader Moammar Gadhafi were still in power. Gadhafi was ousted and killed during the Arab Spring movement of 2011 when Western powers backed a rebellion by the Libyan people against his government.

    Trump blamed the rise of the militant group Islamic State on the downfall of Gadhafi and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was deposed in 2003 and executed by his own people three years later.

    Cruz disparages nuclear deal

    Cruz, for his part, promised to "rip to shreds" the U.N.-brokered nuclear deal with Iran finalized in July of last year. The deal allows Iran relief from U.S., U.N. and European Union sanctions in exchange for the reduction or elimination of Iran's enriched uranium stockpiles and gas centrifuges.

    The flamboyant Trump, who has never held elective office, has won three straight primary election contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. This debate precedes next Tuesday's party primaries and caucuses in 12 states, the single biggest day so far in the months-long, state-by-state races to pick both the Republican and Democratic party presidential candidates.

    An online Bloomberg Politics poll released Thursday found the twice-divorced New Yorker Trump with 37 percent of the vote in seven southern states, home to some of the nation's most conservative voters.

    FILE - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Regents University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Recent polling showed Trump with 37 percent of the vote in seven southern states.
    FILE - U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign event at Regents University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Recent polling showed Trump with 37 percent of the vote in seven southern states.

    Attacks on Trump

    Both Rubio and Cruz have sharpened their attacks on Trump in recent days, with Rubio contending that Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan is empty rhetoric without many specific policy proposals.

    Two other candidates, Ohio Governor John Kasich and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, remain in the race and were on the debate stage. The debate was the first without former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who dropped out after a disappointing fourth-place finish last weekend in South Carolina.

    Cruz, a conservative agitator in Washington against Republican and Democratic leaders, on Wednesday attacked Rubio and Trump as "Washington deal-makers." He said Rubio had collaborated with Democrats on immigration policy changes that Congress ultimately abandoned, while Trump has made campaign donations to Democrats in past elections and at times supported their policies.

    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, looks on during a Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.
    Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, looks on during a Republican presidential primary debate at The University of Houston, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.

    Home-state advantage uncertain

    Cruz is looking to win his home state of Texas on Tuesday and do well in other nearby states in the southern part of the country.  But surveys show Republicans favoring Trump in those states and pulling close to Cruz in Texas. Rubio also faces a key contest in the southeastern state of Florida, his home state, on March 15, the same day Kasich is on the ballot with the other candidates in Ohio, the Midwestern state he governs.

    Trump has predicted he will face off with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic presidential contender, in November's national election to replace President Barack Obama, whose eight-year tenure in the White House ends in January.

    Clinton has won two of the three Democratic state contests over her remaining rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist. Clinton, the country's top diplomat from 2009 to 2013, is favored in Saturday's primary election in the Atlantic coastal state of South Carolina and the two are battling in 11 states on Tuesday.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 26, 2016 1:51 PM
    Donald Trump's position on Israel is way off base. You can't cut a deal with the Palestinians whose only real goal is the destruction of Israel. What do the Palestinians have to do to make that clear to any thinking person? How many wars, how much terror, how many rejected deals, how many times must they break even the smallest agreements, how many times must they elect Hamas and their like to prove there can be no deal.

    Mr. Trump, be warned. Should Israel feel cornered and abandoned by the US, it has the power and will not only to wipe out all of the Palestinians but to set the entire Mideast ablaze in a way that will make the current conflicts look like a minor skirmish. You'd better get his one right the first time because what seems like an even handed approach Obama tried is not just a betrayal but could lead to WWIII. It could go nuclear.

    by: Anonymous
    February 26, 2016 1:47 PM
    Trump says things as they are. He is realistic not polished or censored. Just the truth you like it or not, whether is politically correct or not. This is why he is hated by most politicians and the mainstream media. Hope he will win the elections. US and world will be a better place with Trump as leader of the world as he is a problem solver and get goer.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous from: New Jersey
    February 26, 2016 3:14 PM
    Trump is a con-man. He is not a leader. Good leaders know how to listen. They are polished and understand restraint. Trump is hated because he is an ignorant bully who believes that bluster and lies can replace thoughtful policy positions. He mocks his opponents, women, and people with disabilities in ways that only indict him. There is no truth in unbridled anger and personal attacks. He is a television celebrity who attracts angry sychophants. He will never be elected, to any office.

    by: Yusuf from: Istanbul
    February 26, 2016 3:21 AM
    I'am fully agree with Trump's discourse about Saddam and Gaddafi.During their periods, both countries were very safe and
    people were happy and wealthy.Now, they are killing each other.
    In Response

    by: John
    February 26, 2016 9:14 PM
    I do agree with Yusuf. In Libya during Gaddafi's rule, the only major rapist was Gaddafi, and the major criminals were all concentrated in the secret police. Now the lid's come off, it's a free go for everyone. Crime and murder have been democratised among the populace.
    In Response

    by: Marcus Aurelius II from: NJ USA
    February 26, 2016 1:55 PM
    The attacks on Iraq and Libya were entirely justified and the results are excellent. These people no longer pose a threat to the US. That naïve Europe lets them in unfettered and then finds it is infested with terrorists is no one's fault but their own. The only mistakes the US made were supporting Morsi in Egypt and not attacking Iran a very long time ago. It would have been much cheaper, faster, and easier then. Ultimately it is inevitable.
    In Response

    by: williweb from: Phoenix Arizona USA
    February 26, 2016 11:01 AM
    Northern Iraq, dominated by the Kurds, was the only peaceful and prosperous area in the Middle East. With Saddam and Gaddafi gone the muslims are on their biggest killing spree in recent history, carrying on a dispute from centuries ago. They need to end their insanity.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    February 26, 2016 9:09 AM
    Surely you are joking? Are you educated at all on the history?

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