Trump and Bush at New Hampshire debate
Trump and Bush at New Hampshire debateReuters

Republican presidential candidates gathered in New Hampshire for another debate Saturday night, ahead of the primaries in that state.

Once again, the debate became personal as candidates took jabs at one another, with the first back-and-forth taking place between Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Chris Christie.

Rubio was asked what successes he has to show in his years in electoral politics that show he’s ready to be president, and after skimming through his work in Florida, Rubio stated, “If the presidency becomes electing the people who have been in Congress the longest, we should rally around Joe Biden. He’s been in Congress a thousand years.”

At this point, Christie directly attacked Rubio and said, “You have not been involved in a consequential decision, where you had to be held accountable, you just simply haven’t.”

Christie charged that Rubio was not even around to vote on the Hezbollah sanctions act, which Rubio listed as an accomplishment. “That’s not leadership, that’s truancy,” blasted Christie.

Rubio fired back, saying that under Christie in New Jersey, his state’s credit rating was downgraded nine times.

Christie replied, “That’s what Washington DC does. The drive-by shot at the beginning, with incorrect information, and then the memorized 25-second speech that his advisers gave him. The 30 second speech doesn’t solve one problem.”

Rubio then accused Christie of not wanting to go back to New Jersey for the snowstorm that hit two weeks ago.

“There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is everybody,” Christie fired back. When Rubio said, “You didn’t want to go back!” Christie replied, “Is that one of the skills you get as a United States senator, ESP also?”

Another back-and-forth took place between former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and billionaire Donald Trump, who sparred over the issue of eminent domain - the seizure of private property for the greater good.

Asked if he sees eminent domain as a legitimate way to take property, Trump replied, “Eminent domain is an absolute necessity for a country. For our country. Without it you wouldn’t have roads... you wouldn’t have bridges. The Keystone Pipeline without eminent domain, it wouldn’t go ten feet.”

Bush then attacked Trump, describing the “difference between eminent domain for public purpose” and private purposes.

“What Donald Trump did was try to take the property of an elderly woman in Atlantic City to turn it into a limousine parking lot for his casino,” accused Bush, to the delight of some members of the crowd who cheered.

In response, Trump said, “Jeb wants to be a tough guy. He wants to be a tough guy. I didn’t take the property.”

Responding to the boos by the crowd, Trump said, “That’s all of [Bush’s] donors and special interests out there. We needed tickets. You can’t get them. You know who has the tickets. Donors, special interests.”

The fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) also came up at the debate, with Ted Cruz being asked about his repeated calls to “carpet bomb” the jihadist group.

“The objective must be to completely destroy ISIS,” he replied, noting the American military’s “overwhelming air power”.

“When I say saturated carpet bombing, it’s not indiscriminate,” explained Cruz, adding he means strategic targets should be bombed.

Rubio said it would take a force of Sunni Arabs to destroy ISIS, backed up with American special operation forces and increased airstrikes. The group must be attacked not just in Iraq and Syria but also in other countries where it has established its presence, he added.

Trump, asked how he would “get rid of ISIS quickly” as he has stated in the past, replied, “We need to bomb the oil and take the oil”.

“You have to knock the hell out of the oil, you have to take the oil,” he said, adding that the U.S. needs to stop some of its regional allies who are funding ISIS.

“When you take away their wealth, when you take away the oil, they will become weakened quickly,” added Trump.