Sanders and Clinton launched attacks on Trump while Republicans talked policy and small business issues in recent debates.
As the important March 15 primaries neared, candidates in both parties seemed to have done an about-face.
The GOP candidates swapped insults for policy at the 12th Republican debate on March 10. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton turned away from policy talk during a March 13 town hall to focus on who had the best chance at beating Donald Trump.
The Democratic candidates launched a full-fledged offensive against the Republican front-runner. During the night, Sanders called Trump “a pathological liar” and said his immigration policy was irrational. Clinton later accused the businessman of being “a political arson.”
“It is clear that Donald Trump is running a very cynical campaign pitting groups of Americans against one another,” Clinton said. “He is trafficking in hate and fear. He actually incites violence in the way he urges his audience on, talking about punching people, offering to pay legal bills.”
On the other side of the aisle, Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich placed policy at the forefront of the 12th Republican debate, speaking out against Obamacare, raising taxes and increasing the federal budget.
Here’s what each candidate had to say on small business issues during the debate:
“Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the whole key to the future of America is strong economic growth with common sense regulation, lower taxes and a balanced budget.”
“When it comes to repealing and replacing Obamacare, that’s not going to be bipartisan. When it comes to reducing the tax burdens on Americans, that’s not going to be bipartisan. When it comes to shrinking the size of the federal bureaucracy, that’s probably not going to be bipartisan… I will fight anyone who wants to expand government, raise taxes or weaken our military.”
“We can do better. We can instead repeal Obamacare, abolish the IRS, unleash millions of jobs, defend the Bill of Rights, defend the Second Amendment and religious liberty, stand with our cops and our firefighters and our soldiers, and we can keep America safe.”
“When I stood up and led the fight against Obamacare, Washington was furious and attacked me, but I did it because I was honoring my commitment to the hard-working men and women of this country who are losing their jobs because of Obamacare.”
“Number one, we need to negotiate trade deals protecting American workers first, not the corporate boardroom. Number two, we need to lift the regulations on American businesses here so we see jobs coming back. And number three, we need a tax plan like the tax plan I’ve introduced that will not tax exports and that will tax imports and that will bring millions of high-paying jobs back to America.”
However, the debate’s newfound decorum wasn’t enough to “turn the tide” against Trump, according to David French of National Review.
“The stink of defeat was in the air. Reince Priebus began the night with a plea for unity, and Trump soon followed suit. Rubio and Kasich debated as if they wanted to be remembered for losing with class and dignity. Cruz at times fought gamely, but Trump deflected his attacks by simply not taking the bait. He acted like a man who had the nomination already in hand,” French wrote.
*Note: This news coverage does not equate to an endorsement of any candidate by NFIB