GOP Debate: Donald Trump Doubles Down on Mexico Comments, Mocks Rosie O'Donnell
Ten men were onstage, but Donald Trump was the center of attention during Thursday's Republican presidential debate.
Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly took Trump to task for calling women "fat pigs," "dogs," and "disgusting animals" on Twitter. He corrected Kelly by joking he only said those things about Rosie O'Donnell. Kelly pushed further, asking how he could possibly face Hillary Clinton given his track record with women.
"The big problem this country has is being politically correct," said Trump. "I've been challenged by so many people and I don't frankly have time for total political correctness. To be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either. This country is in big trouble."
O'Donnell responded to the dig on Twitter moments later.
Trump was also hit hard about controversial comments he previously made about Mexican immigrants, specifically that the Mexican government was consciously sending criminals to the U.S.
"If it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration," said Trump. "We need to build a wall. We need to keep illegals out."
He got boos for saying border patrol employees he dealt with have told him the Mexican government was sending criminals to the U.S. because America's leaders were stupid and being deceived.
Early on, Trump got the first word, as he was the only candidate who declined to pledge he wouldn't run an independent campaign should he fail to get the nomination. He earned boos, and the derision from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
"He buys and sells politicians of all stripes. He's already hedging his bet on the Clintons," said Paul.
Trump also defended donating money to Hillary Clinton in the past. He said he gave to one of her foundations, and that he donated to politicians for business favors, which demonstrates the political system was "broken."
"Most of the people on this stage I've given to," said Trump. "With Hillary Clinton, I said 'be at my wedding' and she came to my wedding … I didn't know her money would be used on private jets going all over the world. It was."
Kelly rattled off a slew of liberal views Trump had once espoused, pointedly asking him, "When did you actually become a Republican?"
Trump tackled his change from pro-choice to pro-life, saying his viewed evolved after seeing friends who had considered an abortion deciding to have the child.
"That child today is a total superstar. A great, great child. I saw that and I saw other instances. I am very proud to say I am pro-life," said Trump.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fielded questions about his famous family and the criticism that "the last thing the country needs is another Bush in the oval office." He said he was his "own man" and not beholden to his family past.
"I'm going to have to earn this. Maybe the bar is even higher for me. That's fine," Bush said. "I'm proud of my dad and I'm proud of my brother. In Florida they call me Jeb because I earned it."
Going in, the frontrunners in the polls were Trump, Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. Others in the debate included Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Rubio, 44, hit back at accusations that he was not experienced enough to be president.
"If this election is a resúmé competition, then Hillary Clinton will be president," said Rubio. "This election better be about the future, not the past."
Paul has been critical of Republicans' roles in wars in the Middle East, going as far as to saying elements of the party contributed to the rise of ISIS. He backtracked on that previous comment, saying he could have spoken more carefully, but emphasized that he was the most pro-peace candidate on the stage. He said it was important for the U.S. to ensure it did not sell arms to outside forces.
"We didn't create ISIS. ISIS created themselves," said Paul. "But we can stop them. One of the ways we can stop them is not funding them and not arming them. "
Paul got big applause for touting commitment to civil liberties.
"I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from innocent Americans," said Paul.
Christie called that idea "ridiculous."
"How are you supposed to know?" said Christie. "When you're sitting in a subcommittee just blowing hot air, you can say things like that."
The ten-candidate debate airing from Cleveland was managed by Fox News' Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.
Going into the debate, Trump lead the polls, outpacing Bush by 10 points and Walker by 12 points. The rest of the candidates are polling in the single digits.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.