Trump's Terrible Night in Houston

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Thursday night was the last chance for Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and the rest of the Republican field to take their best shot at frontrunner Donald Trump before the 12 nominating contests on March 1, and they made the most of it, landing blow after blow on the businessman. The politics team liveblogged the whole, lengthy thing, and here’s my instant analysis:

Donald Trump has gotten very used to winning recently, after racking up three straight primary and caucus wins. He’s even promised to win so much that Americans will get sick of winning.

But he didn’t get a victory in Houston on Thursday.

It was Trump’s worst debate of the campaign, and the defeat came largely at the hands of Marco Rubio, who hit Trump early and often. The climactic moment arrived during a discussion of health insurance. Every candidate has promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, but with what? Trump’s answer was that he’d allow the sale of insurance across state lines. Rubio pressed him: Is that all you’ve got? When Trump tried to slap back, Rubio was ready.

“He’s repeating himself!” Rubio exclaimed with a grin, echoing the very attack Chris Christie used so effectively against him just a few weeks ago. “I’m not repeating myself. I’m not repeating myself,” Trump insisted, but he was practically drowned out by the huge round of applause sweeping the hall.

Read the rest, and the whole liveblog, here.