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Trump-less Undercard Debate Is Still All About Trump

'There’s no escaping Donald Trump'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2015 7:08 PM CST

(Newser) – You'd have been forgiven for thinking Donald Trump somehow snuck himself onto the GOP undercard debate stage with the amount of time the four lowest-polling candidates spent talking about him. As Politico put it: "There’s no escaping Donald Trump—even when he’s not on the stage." It his opening statement, George Pataki declared Trump not "fit to be president" and said he "continually demonizes and demeans millions of Americans, and when confronted about it, laughs it off," the Washington Post reports. He later said Trump "is the Know-Nothing candidate of the 21st century and cannot be our nominee." But he may just have had Trump on the brain, as he later referred to him—perhaps prematurely—as "this president."

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Lindsey Graham was similarly harsh on Trump's plan to keep Muslims from entering the US. "Donald Trump has done the one single thing you cannot do: declare war on Islam itself. ISIL would be dancing in the streets," the Post quotes Graham. "This is a coup for them." And if Trump gets the nomination? "I will support the Republican nominee," Graham said. "Like Bob Dole, I may sleep late that day if it's Trump." Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee were less critical of Trump. "I think he will do a whole lot more to protect us than Hillary will," Huckabee said. All the attention from the undercard debate didn't escape Trump, Politico reports. "Geez Mr. Trump, they are coming for you even before the REAL debate," reads one supporter's message retweeted by Trump. (Read more GOP Debate stories.)

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