For once, Donald Trump was understated: “I guess the bromance is over.”
After Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, it was also a statement of the obvious. Mr. Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for months acting like best friends even while vying for the same job, finally took off the gloves and went after each other. The end of the buddy act was inevitable – and instructive.
Trump showed that he could take a punch. And more important, he demonstrated a nimbleness and a disarming honesty that reinforce why he’s the Republican frontrunner. When challenged by Senator Cruz over his “New York values,” Trump didn’t deny that he once held socially liberal views. Instead, he came back with a stirring defense of his hometown, invoking New Yorkers’ resilience in the face of 9/11. Even Cruz applauded.
“This was without a doubt Trump's strongest debate performance,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But Cruz showed he has the backbone and skills to go toe-to-toe with 'the Donald.’