In what seemed to some a last-gasp maneuver, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz went after Donald Trump in a ferocious way Thursday night.
Neutral observers who spoke to me minutes after the CNN-sponsored Republican debate from Houston all agreed that Rubio and possibly Cruz gained ground from this "pile-on-Trump" strategy.
But none were quite sure there was enough time before next week's Super Tuesday primaries for the two senators who are considered Trump's leading opponents to stop or slow down the controversial front-runner.
Veteran GOP consultant Ford O'Connell, who has no favorite in the presidential race, felt that "without question Marco Rubio was the winner tonight even though he got some major assists from Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney [who had suggested to a reporter that Trump's income tax records might contain a "bombshell"]. He was aggressive and went right after Trump from the opening bell.
"The biggest moment for Rubio was when he went after Trump on healthcare and attacked Trump for not only repeating himself but for making the point that Trump is all bluster and no substance when it comes to key policies and solutions. Hitting Trump's business success for being the byproduct of a silver spoon birth is something pundits will be talking about until the next votes are cast. You have to wonder why it took until the 10th debate for Rubio and Cruz to go after Trump."
Read more from John Gizzi at Newsmax