Texas Governor Offers $20,000 for Info on ‘Murder’ of Border Patrol Agent

The Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott is offering $20,000 for information on the death of a Border Patrol agent in Texas. One agent was killed and one agent left hospitalized in serious condition after an event on the morning of November, 19, 2017. Border Patrol agents are saying that their brother in service was murdered, though federal agencies are refusing to release any additional information on what occurred.

Breitbart Texas broke the news of the death and injuries to the agents, as well as the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) asserting that the agent was murdered by illegal aliens smashing his skull in with rocks.

The news has caused shockwaves to ripple across the federal agencies involved and the political scenes in both Texas and Washington, DC. The FBI leads the investigation and the agency has refused to release any additional information on what occurred. Calls to officials in a variety of federal agencies result in claims of them not yet being sure what happened; however, Border Patrol agents on the ground are reporting that this is untrue and that the death was a murder. The agents point to the massive law enforcement manhunt and internal Customs and Border Protection (CBP) communications as evidence that findings at the scene of the event revealed an attack did indeed occur.

“We owe a great deal of gratitude to the brave men and women of the United States Border Patrol who serve every day to protect our homeland,” Governor Abbott said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “Cecilia and I offer our deepest condolences to the families of the agents killed and seriously injured in this attack. As authorities continue their investigation, it is important that they receive any and all information to help apprehend and deliver swift justice to those responsible.”

“The other agent arrived on scene a short time later and was also ambushed and struck in the head with what is believed to have been a rock or rocks,” Judd explained. “These disgusting acts and complete disregard for human life need to stop immediately.”

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also expressed his shock at the “attack” on two Border Patrol agents.

“This is a stark reminder of the ongoing threat that an unsecure[d] border poses to the safety of our communities and those charged with defending them,” the senator stated. “We are grateful for the courage and sacrifice of our border agents who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe. I remain fully committed to working with the Border Patrol to provide them with all the resources they need to safeguard our nation.”

Speaking of Martinez’s partner, Cruz said, “We are also praying for the full recovery of his partner, who was also attacked.”

President Trump was the first to assert that the incident was an attack. He did so on Twitter. He wrote, “Border Patrol Officer killed at Southern Border, another badly hurt. We will seek out and bring to justice those responsible. We will, and must, build the Wall!”

The second agent is still reported to be in serious condition on Monday afternoon.

Brandon Darby is managing director and editor-in-chief of Breitbart Texas. He co-founded the Cartel Chronicles project with Ildefonso Ortiz and Stephen K. Bannon. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He can be contacted at bdarby@breitbart.com.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTXGab, and Facebook.

Sally Yates and Ted Cruz get into heated battle over Trump’s immigration ban

Allan Smith,Business Insider 7 hours ago

Dems already cranking up Trump impeachment talk

Even before Donald Trump had taken the oath of office, some House Democrats, apparently stunned at the election results and bruised by being left entirely out of the Washington power structure, were suggesting impeachment was in order. The movement has only grown stronger more than a month into the Trump presidency.

It is centered around two alleged violations that Trump critics maintain rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors.

“I mean on day one he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN.) said in a recent CNN town hall.

The Emoluments Clause  to which Ellison refers, reads in part, “…no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

Ellison’s charge is based on Trump’s children now running his businesses.  With no blind trust in effect, some believe there is a risk of bribery. “I think a reasonably strong case can be made and a number of constitutional scholars have  made that case, says  Julian Epstein, former counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment.

Bruce Fein, a Deputy Attorney General during the Reagan Administration, agrees. “If you can prove bribery by circumstantial evidence or something that a foreign government is patronizing the Trump Hotel in exchange for some benefit in trade or military sale, that’s bribery. That clearly satisfies the impeachment standards, leaving open the possibility of bribery,” he says.

The second potential violation is the charge Trump team’s had Russian connections. “This President absolutely was in collusion with the Kremlin and Putin and Russia during the campaign,” alleges Rep. Maxine Waters,D-Calif.

Fein believes  Waters’ argument is weak, noting Trump had not been sworn into office when the alleged violation occurred. “Obviously what  he did wasn’t corrupting government, he wasn’t even president yet exercising presidential powers. It verges on frivolity, in my judgment,” he says.

Indeed, Republicans say the charges of a Trump-Putin collusion thus far are based on anonymous leaks and hearsay. “We don’t have any evidence that they talked to Russians,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said during a press briefing on Monday.

But impeachment is more than a legal process, it’s a political one, too, something that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, noted in a panel discussion with radio talk show host Mark Levin at last week’s CPAC Convention.

“Do the Democrats understand that they need to control the House of Representatives to impeach somebody?” Levin asked of Cruz.

Cruz replied to uproarious applause, “The Democrats right now are living in an alternative universe.”

Epstein believes that may change.”The president’s support is a mile wide but an inch deep,” he says. “If the president’s approval numbers, which are in the low 40s right now, dip into the mid- 30s or the low 30s or the high 20s, then you could foresee a situation where  Republicans could begin to think that Mike Pence is a much better alternative,” he says.

Epstein cautions against impeachment, citing his own experience. “Impeachment is a little like war,” he says.  “People tend to romanticize the idea of impeaching a president when the opposition party is in the White House. I have lived through an impeachment and it’s an incredibly divisive fight that leaves wounds that sometimes takes years and years to heal,” he says.

Doug McKelway joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in November 2010 and serves as a Washington-based correspondent. Click here for more information on Doug McKelway.

Who’s really qualified to be President? 11 takes

Story highlights

  • After candidates’ dust-up over “qualifications,” CNN asked contributors for their take on key qualifications for President

(CNN)As they campaigned over New York in recent days, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton found themselves in an escalating war of words over which of them was “qualified” to be President. The dust-up has died down, and the candidates have moved on–but the issue is now on the table. What does make a candidate qualified to be President?

CNN Opinion asked contributors who have worked in or studied presidential administrations, some with a front row seat, for their take. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the authors.

David Gergen: The ability to collaborate

David Gergen

Of the many qualities required for presidential leadership, three seem especially important in coming years:
Character: Historian David McCullough argues that character is the single most important quality of a president. That seems true at a time when Americans are so divided and distrustful.
Executive capacity: A president must not only have principles but the ability, vision and courage to put them into action. There is no substitute for past executive experience.
Empathy and appreciation of differences: In a world best characterized as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, our new President must have an ability to listen and work collaboratively with people of vastly different perspectives.
Historians rank Washington, Lincoln and FDR as our best presidents. Our next must try to walk in their shoes.
David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been a White House adviser to four presidents. A graduate of Harvard Law School, he is a professor of public service and co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. Follow him on Twitter: @david_gergen.

Juliette Kayyem: Calm in a storm

I have worked for one governor, two presidents and several Cabinet secretaries, and the attribute that has impressed me the most in times of crisis and homeland security emergencies is the capacity to keep one’s cool in the middle of the maelstrom.
It is easy to create scapegoats, increase the temperature and throw red meat at the masses. It is harder to take the long view, to understand that sometimes stuff happens, and that blame and hysteria are a lazy man’s low-hanging fruit.
President Obama displayed this attribute during the Ebola crisis; while so many looked to close borders or isolate populations, Obama allowed the science to guide the response, regardless of what the political noise may have been demanding.

John Kasich had a lot of fun in the Bronx

John Kasich had a lot of fun in the Bronx 01:53
Building resiliency while maintaining our values is the true sign of success.
CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security in the Obama administration and founder of Kayyem Solutions, a security consulting firm. She is the host of the “Security Mom” podcast and author of a forthcoming book, “Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home.”

David Axelrod: Nimble and decisive

Having spent two years in the tiny rectangular office next to the big oval one, I got in-depth exposure to the demands of the presidency.
There is nothing like it and, therefore, no experience that can perfectly prepare you for it.
On any given day, a president deals with one complex and consequential problem after another, for which there rarely are easy solutions. Some require immediate action and can arrive in the dead of night.
At any given moment, the president will be asked to comment publicly on breaking issues, knowing that a misplaced answer can send armies marching and markets tumbling. What a president says matters to the entire world.
The occupant of that office must therefore have the intellectual acuity to master a wide range of subjects, make quick decisions based on the best information available and speak honestly but with discretion.
More than anything, this person must be prepared to handle the relentless pressures of the world’s toughest office with grace, wisdom and confidence.
David Axelrod is CNN’s senior political commentator and host of the podcast “The Axe Files.” He was senior adviser to President Barack Obama and chief strategist for the 2008 and 2012 Obama campaigns.

Anne-Marie Slaughter: Standing up to a fight

The qualifications that we should be looking for in a president—and I base this on my experience as a leader, a State Department official, and a citizen–are intelligence, grit, courage, empathy, and the ability to listen to what you don’t want to hear.
Sheer smarts should never be undervalued; the president must address an extraordinary range of issues and must be able to think for himself or herself as well as to rely on advisers.
Grit is perhaps more essential in Washington than anywhere else in the world: the dogged determination to keep trying in the face of an obdurate bureaucracy or a hostile legislature.
Courage is essential: the ability to wade into a fight when necessary, to face down the media, to make an unpopular decision.
Empathy is undervalued, but if a President cannot walk in the shoes of a citizen, an immigrant, or a human being half way around the world and feel what that person is feeling, s/he cannot lead in the way that people often yearn to be led.
Finally, a good President will insist on having at least a few staff members who are hired precisely for their ability to tell the boss what others will not—to deliver unpleasant truths and be heard. That is the only way out of the sycophantic bubble that Washington so often becomes.

Ted Cruz rolls matzah and dances to 'Dayenu'

Ted Cruz rolls matzah and dances to ‘Dayenu’ 00:55
A final note: Regardless what you think the actual qualifications for President should be, and whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you should be very suspicious of any effort to denigrate any woman as “unqualified for the job.” It touches a raw nerve — at least for Boomer and Gen X women who have been in the workforce for a while.
Reams of research shows that a man who may have have relatively little experience for a job will be hired or promoted on the grounds that he has great potential and can certainly learn on the job, while a woman in the same situation will be told that she needs a year or two more of experience before she is qualified. Let’s not let the potential/performance gap infect our politics.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is president and CEO of New America. She was director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department from 2009 to 2011. She is the author of “Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family.”

H.W. Brands: A vision of the American dream

No one is fully qualified to be president. The job is too big for any man or woman. So we are arguing about degrees of qualification. Successful presidents have possessed varying combinations of experience in government (FDR, among others), strong principles that nonetheless allow compromise with those of differing views (Reagan), flexibility to deal with novel challenges (Truman), and the eloquence to convey a contemporary vision of the American dream to the American people (Lincoln, FDR, Reagan).
No successful president has pandered to Americans’ fears. The most successful have appealed convincingly to Americans’ hopes. They have reminded us that the land of the free must be the home of the brave.
H.W. Brands is professor and Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in history at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of numerous books about U.S. history, including “Reagan: The Life” and “Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times.”
The most important qualification to be president is this: to possess that rare combination of idealism and pragmatism that our best presidents have had—the ability to see all the way to the horizon while still navigating the hazards on the road directly ahead.
Abraham Lincoln brought about Emancipation not only by bringing his single-minded vision of an America without the abomination of slavery, but by leading an incredibly difficult and complex struggle, both military and political–always concentrating on what was doable at the moment while keeping his eyes on the ultimate prize.

Hillary Clinton getting tougher on Bernie Sanders

Hillary Clinton getting tougher on Bernie Sanders 02:46
Both Democratic candidates arguably have that combination, although their opponents may question Clinton’s idealism or Sanders’ pragmatism. Of the GOP candidates, even if you give Ted Cruz credit for his own strain of idealism, he is the least pragmatic member of Congress. And Donald Trump fails miserably on both scores.
Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for civic engagement and voter participation at the Democratic National Committee. She was campaign manager for Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. A nationally syndicated columnist, she is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of “Cooking with Grease: Stirring the Pots in America.”

Hugh Hewitt: A nose for the right talent

The greatest modern presidents — or at least those with the greatest achievements, such as Richard Nixon’s opening to the People’s Republic of China — surround themselves with brilliant, sometimes difficult people.
President Reagan had James Baker, Ed Meese, William French Smith, Fred Fielding –and the great George Schultz, Secretary of Everything and a Marine. Nixon of course welcomed both Nelson Rockefeller’s “old school,” balance-of-power, interventionist Henry Kissinger and liberal Daniel Patrick Moynihan into his circle. The ability to attract and deploy talent in the service of the nation without being threatened or overwhelmed by it is the mark of qualification.

Trump campaign recalibrates to focus on delegates

Trump campaign recalibrates to focus on delegates 03:21
These is room of course for loyalists (but not only loyalists) and for youth (Reagan employed a young John Roberts). But to reach out and empower the best — as George W. Bush did with Gens. James Mattis, Stanley McCrystal and David Petraeus — is the necessary ingredient of qualification.
Hugh Hewitt is a lawyer, law professor, author and host of a nationally syndicated radio show. He served in the Reagan administration in posts including assistant counsel in the White House and special assistant to two attorneys general.

Paul Begala: Seeing world through others’ experience

Paul Begala-Profile-Image

I believe empathy is the most important quality a president can have. This is an impossibly large, unimaginably diverse country. The ability to empathize with people of every race, religion, sexual orientation, region, generation, and ideology is critical. A president must be able to put herself — or himself — in the Guccis of foreign leaders, the cowboy boots of congressmen, the orthopedic shoes of the elderly, and the flip-flops of the young. Obviously brains help and rhetorical skills are a great asset, but for my money, empathy matters most.
Paul Begala, a Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, was a political consultant for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was counselor to Clinton in the White House. He is a consultant to the pro-Hillary Clinton super-PAC Priorities USA Action.

Aaron David Miller: A handle on history

All presidents, political writer Jonathan Alter has said, are blind dates; And since there’s no school for presidents, it’s very hard to know–regardless of what’s on the résumé–just what kind of president we’re getting. The self-educated Abraham Lincoln had no real résumé — a couple of terms in the Illinois House and one in the U.S. Congress; and he was among our greatest presidents, along with Washington and FDR; James Buchanan had one of the best résumés in the presidential biz and turned out to be one of our worst presidents.
So what are the qualities you need to be president? Having worked for a half-dozen secretaries of state of both parties and been around a couple of presidents, I’d suggest two or three. First, an even temperament, or what we might fashionably call emotional intelligence: Understanding yourself and keeping your demons under control so that power, pettiness and narcissistic impulses don’t guide you. Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson — and the latter might actually have been a great president had it not been for Vietnam — couldn’t.

Sanders: Clinton is not qualified to be president

Sanders: Clinton is not qualified to be president 01:17
Second, the ability to process information: Do you know what you don’t know and are you in a hurry to find it out? Whether a president asks the right questions, particularly when weighing whether America will use force abroad, is critical. Should we do it? Can we do it? And what is it likely to cost?
And finally, a knowledge of history, because the past teaches humility and prudence and tempers a president’s temptation to give in to the transgressions of omnipotence (I can do everything) and omniscience (I know everything).
Aaron David Miller is a vice president and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.” Miller was a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. Follow him on Twitter @aarondmiller2.

Van Jones: A strong internal compass

Van Jones-Profile-Image

The number one quality that a president needs is a “true north” in terms of values and priorities. In the White House, more consequential things happen in one hour than happen during a whole month in a normal workplace. The pace of incoming data, intel and requests for action is relentless. Surprises are the norm, so plans necessarily change on the fly.
Meanwhile, opponents (abroad, in the media and in other branches of government) work round the clock to undermine your efforts. Without a “true north,” drift and fragmentation lead to blunders, wasted effort and missed opportunities. But with it, despite everything, the most important goals can be achieved. A president must have, above all else, a strong internal compass and a clear sense of what really matters to him or her, in the long run.
Van Jones is president of Dream Corps and Rebuild the Dream, which promote innovative solutions for America’s economy. He was President Barack Obama’s green jobs adviser in 2009. A best-selling author, he is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy. Follow him on Twitter @VanJones68.

David Boaz: A firm grasp of reality

I grew up during the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon years, when unwise and unconstitutional actions drove two presidents from office.
The most important qualifications for a president are: first, good character, including a realization that a president is not a king; second, a recognition and acceptance of the Constitution’s limitations on the power of the president, the executive branch, and the federal government; and third, a firm grasp of reality, from the laws of economics to the difficulties of waging war in Asia, the Middle East, or elsewhere.
Those seem like minimal standards, but they’re apparently hard to find in people who seek the presidency.
David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of “The Libertarian Mind”
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Donald Trump’s rivals rip him for ‘disturbing, ugly’ rhetoric amid chaos in Chicago

Some of the GOP primary candidates have condemned Donald Trump’s signature rhetoric, which they say is encouraging violence in and around his campaign.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich roundly accused Trump of “contributing to the climate” of violence that reportedly resulted in a massive protest at Trump’s rallies in St. Louis and Chicago on Friday.

Shortly after Trump canceled a scheduled rally in Chicago because of protests at the event, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas accused the Trump campaign of inciting the unrest.

“A campaign bears responsibility for creating an environment where the candidate urges supporters to engage in violence,” Sen. Cruz said.

Cruz also referred to the multiple occasions in which Trump has suggested protesters should be “roughed up.” In recent days, anti-Trump demonstrators have allegedly been assaulted at his events.

On a separate occasion last month, Trump spoke to his audience about another protester, saying, “Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, OK, just knock the hell — I promise you I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”

In Cruz’s remarks after the protests Friday night, he said he wants to “appeal to civility in the democratic discourse.”

“We can have genuine differences but can do so in a way that appeals to our better angels, not our worst,” Cruz said.

Trump protestsREUTERS/Kamil KrzaczynskiA Trump supporter, right, yells at a demonstrator, left, after Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump cancelled his rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago, March 11, 2016.

Cruz also threw some of the blame at President Barack Obama, accusing Obama of using moments of crisis over the course of his presidency to “divide” the country.

In a separate interview on CNN, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said “Donald Trump is responsible for his own rhetoric … there are consequences to words.”

Rubio also appeared to defend Trump by criticizing the protesters for “denying someone their First Amendment right to speak things in America.” He quickly turned back to the GOP frontrunner, saying, “the tone and tenor of Donald Trump’s rallies … has been disturbing to a lot of people.”

In a statement that Gov. John Kasich’s campaign released Friday night, Kasich said “the seeds of division that Donald Trump has been sowing this whole campaign has finally bore fruit, and it was ugly.”

Democratic primary frontrunner Hillary Clinton said in her own statement Friday night, “The divisive rhetoric we are seeing should be of grave concern to us all.”

Clinton’s primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, weighed in during his own campaign event in Illinois, declaring that America won’t let “Donald Trump or anybody else divide us up.”

US elections: Trump and Rubio clash over Islam ‘hate’

Trump stands by comments on Islam, saying the US has “a serious problem with hate” from Muslims.

11 Mar 2016 07:46 GMT | Donald Trump, United States, US Election 2016, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz

In contrast to previous debates the candidates largely managed to present their arguments without vitriol [Wilfredo Lee/AP]
In contrast to previous debates the candidates largely managed to present their arguments without vitriol [Wilfredo Lee/AP]

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump has doubled down on previous comments about Islam, saying there is “tremendous hatred” towards Americans from Muslims.

Asked on Thursday during a televised debate in Miami, Florida, if he meant all Muslims, the frontrunner to be the Republican party nominee for president said: “I mean a lot of them”.

Trump once again invoked the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York and Washington and added there is “something going on”, without elaborating.

Marco Rubio, another candidate for the nomination, and Trump were tangling over what the US stance towards followers of Islam should be, with Trump telling the Florida senator: “You can say what you want. You can be politically correct if you want. We have a serious problem with hate”.

Rubio countered: “I’m not interested in being politically correct. I’m interested in being correct.”

The Florida senator noted that there were grave markers in Arlington National Cemetery that have “crescent moons,” which connote the Muslim faith.

He said “they love America”, and that the US will need healthy relations with Muslim nations to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

Trump, who has voiced scepticism about US military involvement abroad in the past, for the first time said America’s effort against ISIL might need between 20,000 and 30,000 US troops, a number similar to what some Republican hawks have proposed.

Earlier in the campaign, Trump called for a “total and complete” block on non-US Muslims entering the US.

A statement from Trump’s campaign team in December said the halt on Muslims entering the country should remain in place “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”.

Trump also defended his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that while “there’s nobody that’s more pro-Israel than I am”, in order to make a deal with Palestine he would have to make them believe he was somewhat neutral.

Trump said striking a peace deal with Israel and Palestine would be “maybe the toughest negotiation of all time”.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who has been engaging with Trump more than Rubio or Ohio Governor John Kasich, said it would be wrong to be neutral toward Palestine.

Relatively civil

In contrast to previous presidential debates, the candidates largely managed to present their arguments without vitriol.

Trump shook his head and declared at one point: “I can’t believe how civil it’s been up here.”

The businessman, though, clearly was intent on projecting a less bombastic – and more presidential – image.

His closing message: “Be smart and unify.”

“We’re all in this together,” he said early on, sounding more like a conciliator than a provocateur as he strived to unify the party behind his candidacy. “We’re going to come up with solutions. We’re going to find the answer to things.”

Trump’s rivals, in a desperate scramble to halt his march to the nomination, gradually ramped up their criticism as the night wore on.

Donald Trump keeps winning despite attacks

Rubio’s overarching message: “I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is presidents can’t just say anything they want because it has consequences around the world.”

Florida is the biggest prize in a five-state round of voting on Tuesday, and all 99 of the state’s delegates will go to the winner.

In all, 367 Republican delegates will be at stake, with voting also occurring in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In the race for delegates, Trump has 458, Cruz 359, Rubio 151 and Kasich 54. It takes 1,237 to win the Republican nomination for president.

Source: Al Jazeera And AP

‘How civil it’s been’: A suddenly subdued Donald Trump shows up at the big GOP debate

donald trump ted cruz debateJoe Raedle/Getty ImagesDonald Trump with Ted Cruz at the CNN debate.

The tone of the Republican debate discourse shifted drastically Thursday night, as the candidates repeatedly declined to attack one another as harshly as they had previously.

Republican frontrunner Donald Trump quipped more than 30 minutes into the debate, “So far I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here.”

Trump in particular has been known for his relentless criticism of his foes, especially when they attack him first. But he shrugged off attack after attack on Thursday night.

During a discussion about Social Security benefits, Sen. Marco Rubio jabbed and said Trump’s numbers didn’t “add up.”

The debate moderator invited Trump to respond.

Trump, who in the previous debate had derided Rubio as “Little Marco,” then did something new: He largely ignored Rubio’s attack and simply repeated his claim that there were entitlement savings to be found.

“I’ve been going over budgets and looking at budgets — we don’t bid things out,” he said. “We don’t bid out, as example, the drug industry, the pharmaceutical industry.”

Later, when ethanol mandates came up, Sen. Ted Cruz took a shot at Trump. Cruz suggested that the frontrunner had pandered to Iowa’s corn industry. But the back-and-forth was anemic compared with that of past debates.

“When I went to Iowa and campaigned against ethanol mandates, everyone said that was political suicide: ‘You can’t take on ethanol in Iowa,'” Cruz said. “And my opponents on this stage not only didn’t do the same, they attacked me.”

Trump accused Cruz of changing his stance on ethanol, but his language was toned down significantly from past attacks. In almost every stump speech leading up to the debate, Trump had repeatedly referred to Cruz as “lyin’ Ted.”

But on Thursday night, Trump simply said:

If you look back to Iowa, Ted did change his view and his stance on ethanol quite a bit. He did — and at the end — not for long, but he did change his view in the hopes of maybe doing well. And I think everybody knows that, it was a front-page story all over the place, and he did make a change.

The rest of the debate mostly conformed to this theme, with the candidates taking weak shots at one another but keeping it relatively tame compared with their past fireworks.

After the debate, Trump praised the tone of the debate.

“I thought it was a very elegant debate, I thought it was very substantive … and I thought folks did a great job,” he said on CNN. “We needed this kind of debate, we needed this kind of tone, and I’m glad it took place tonight,” he added.

As Trump comes closer to clinching the Republican nomination for president, he has started sounding more like a general-election candidate.

At a news conference on Tuesday night celebrating two additional primary wins, Trump said he would help other Republican candidates, mentioned a conversation he’d had with House Speaker Paul Ryan, discouraged the crowd from booing Mitt Romney, and talked about beating Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The candidates are heading into another round of big primaries on Tuesday.

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