The third Republican debate has concluded in the US state of Colorado. As GOP hopefuls traded attacks among themselves, a moderator accused frontrunner Donald Trump of running a fantasy campaign.
Millions of Americans tuned in to watch the latest Republican presidential debate on Wednesday evening. Broadcast from the University of Colorado at Boulder, the ten White House hopefuls were quick to throw personal jabs - particularly at the two front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump, neither of whom have political experience.
"We cannot elect somebody who doesn't know how to do the job," said Ohio Governor John Kasich, referring to Carson and Trump, slamming their "fantasy tax schemes." Even a debate moderator seemed to join in the mocking of Trump, asking the real estate mogul if he was running a "comic book" campaign.
Lazy as the French
The traditional candidates, who have struggled to make headway as Carson and Trump continue to hog the headlines, also sparred with one another. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the son and brother of two former presidents, laid into former protégé Marco Rubio, a Florida senator, over his record of congressional attendance.
"This is a six-year term. You should be showing up. Literally, the Senate, is it a French work week? Just resign and let somebody else take the job," Bush said, using the debate as a last-ditch attempt to revive a flagging campaign.
Rubio had accusations of his own to fling - but this time at presumptive Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. He called the former secretary of state a "liar" for her testimony about the 2012 attacks at the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, drawing applause from the crowd. The senator also seemed to be using the debate to play to the party's establishment wing, hoping to draw support away from Bush.
'Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare'
Carly Fiorina, the only women in the Republican race and along with Carson and Trump a political novice, also called out the one-time first lady, proudly announcing that she was "Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare."
The debate was broadcast by cable network CNBC, and tried to focus the debate on economic issues, but also threw out questions relating to gun control and of course, marijuana - the debate taking place in Colorado, where use of the drug is legal.
CNBC received hefty criticism, even from some of the candidates, for what was perceived as its provocative lines of questioning and attempts to draw out dramatic, inflammatory statements.
"This is not a cage match," protested Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
es/bw (AFP, AP)