Republican U.S. presidential candidate Marco Rubio (L) laughs at rival Donald Trump (R) during the debate sponsored by CNN for the 2016 Republican U.S. presidential candidates in Houston, Texas, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Stone
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Marco Rubio unleashed a campaign's worth of harsh criticism on Donald Trump in the final Republican debate before Tuesday's crucial primaries.The problem may be that it took 10 debates and three Trump victories to get Rubio fired up.Only now, with Trump threatening to pull away from the field, did Rubio aggressively try to dismantle the billionaire businessman's grip on the Republican race, with occasional help from Ted Cruz, the conservative Texas senator.The senator also gleefully pointed out Trump's propensity for repeating talking points over and over again, the same criticism that tripped up Rubio in a debate earlier this month.Rubio was sometimes joined by Cruz in tag-team attacks on Trump.Rubio appeared to have taken lessons from Bush's exchanges with Trump.At times, the three-way fight between Trump, Rubio and Cruz devolved into a shouting match, with each struggling to be heard, let alone make a substantive policy point.Rubio's next challenge – beyond topping Trump in at least some of the upcoming primaries – will be infusing that more optimistic message into his critique of Trump.
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