With Donald Trump leading in most of the latest GOP primary polls, everyone was interested in seeing how he would perform in this first Republican debate. An equally interesting question was who would land the first punch on Trump.
Answer: Rand Paul.
The moderators opened the debate by asking a question clearly teed up for Trump: would he promise to back the Republican general election candidate no matter which of the 17 candidates it turns out to be? Trump, predictably, would not promise to do so.
Instead, he responded that he would pledge not to run as an independent only if he were the Republican nominee, a line surely calculated to please his supporters who are dissatisfied with the Republican Party.
But Rand wasn’t letting Trump get away with avoiding a pledge not to hand Democrats the election on a silver platter.
“This is what’s wrong [with Trump],” he shot back.
“He buys and sells politicians of all stripes… He’s already hedging his bet on the Clintons, okay? So if he doesn’t support Republicans, maybe he supports Clinton or maybe he runs as an independent, but I would say, he’s already hedging his bets because he’s used to buying politicians.”
A just question about someone who has donated to as wide a variety of politicians as Trump has…and who has changed his position on so many issues.
As an outsider unlikely to be bought or persuaded out of his principles, it isn’t surprising to hear Rand Paul calling out Trump on his answer. What viewers may not have expected is someone landing a punch that early in the debate.