Republican debate: Donald Trump challenged to release off-the-record immigration briefing

Mr Trump was repeatedly questioned by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly

Donald Trump was challenged to release the recording of an off-the-record briefing with a leading American newspaper in which he reportedly said his strident views on immigration had been made purely for political reasons.

During the 11th Republican debate, in which he was repeatedly attacked by rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Mr Trump was pushed to release the recording from a conversation with the editorial board of the New York Times. Earlier this week, BuzzFeed said that at the meeting he said he was far more flexible on the immigration issue than many believed.

On a night in which Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s name was trending on Twitter for her relentless interrogation of Mr Trump, a man who had made controversial comments about her during the very first debate last year, the tycoon insisted that he was indeed tough on the immigration issue. 

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The four remaining candidates debated each other

“Look, I am going to build a wall,” he said, referring to his much stated plan to build a barrier on the US-Mexico border. “It’s going to happen. But there is give and take in government.”

Asked directly whether he would release the recording, he said: “I did have a meeting with the New York Times editorial board. I think being off the record is very important. I will honour it.”

He added: “But I will say that in immigration as well as with anything else, there has been to be tug and pull. You have to be able to have some flexibility. I may have said something like that with the New York Times. But I am not going to release something off the record.”

Mr Cruz said: “You could resolve this issue very easily by releasing the tapes. If you went to Manhattan and said this, the voters have a right to know.”

The debate in Michigan, which also featured Ohio Governor John Kasich, a man who sought to portray him a the “grown up” on a night of squabbling - at one point Mr Trump made a veiled claim about the size of his genitals - came after the tycoon had faced a barrage of attacks from Republicans opposed to him becoming the president.

The 2012 Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, urged people to vote tactically to prevent Mr Trump securing enough delegates to win the nomination.

Without naming any of the other candidates, or suggesting that he might throw his hand into the race, he claimed there would be a dark future if the tycoon was elected.

Trump discusses the size of his genitals in latest debate

“Here’s what I know. Donald Trump is a phoney, a fraud,” Mr Romney said. “His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He’s playing the American public for suckers: He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.”

Asked about Mr Romney’s comments, Mr Trump said: “We have a failed candidate. He should have beaten President Obama easily. He was a failed candidate and he was a big embarrassment to the Republican party.”

The debate came two days after Super Tuesday, when Mr Trump won seven out of eleven states. Mr Cruz won three, while Mr Rubio secured just one. 

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