The first Republican debate since the battles of Super Tuesday opened with a volley of insults and innuendo and the sight of Donald Trump seemingly bragging about the size of his genitals
In exchanges more accustomed to Saturday night comedy shows, Mr Trump referred to comments his rival Marco Rubio had made last week in which he said the tycoon had small hands and that people knew “what they say about people with small hands”.
On Thursday night, Mr Trump held up his hands and said no-one had ever before suggested they were small. “He said if my hands were small, then something else is small,” he said. “I guarantee there is no problem.”
The bizarre turn during the 11th Republican debate came as Mr Trump was repeatedly attacked by rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
Mr Trump was forced to insist that he was still tough on immigration following claims he told the New York Times in an off-the-record briefing that he was far more flexible on the immigration issue than many believed.
Asked directly whether he would release the recording of the meeting, 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 also higlighted the big problem facing the Republican Party was also exposed when Mr Trump’s rivals admitted they would all back him if he wins the race.
Mr Rubio, Mr Cruz and John Kasich all pledged they will support Mr Trump if he wins the Republican nomination.
Mr Rubio said that he is committed to his party and therefore would support the nominee.
Mr Cruz said he would prefer Mr Trump to either of the Democratic contenders, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, describing the latter as a "socialist".
Mr Kasich was the most hesitant, but ultimately said that while "sometimes (Trump) makes it a little bit hard," he would support him if he is the nominee.Reuse content