The latest round of Republican presidential debates, held by Fox News on Thursday in Detroit, saw Donald Trump accused by his rivals of being "flexible" and saying whatever needed to win.
However, in the end Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all promised to support the GOP nominee even if it was Trump, and for his part the real estate mogul said he would support the GOP nominee even if he lost.
Thursday's debate saw intense criticism on Trump, with much of it focused on his off-the-record comments to the New York Times in January in which he reportedly revealed he is "flexible" on softening his position on immigration.
At one juncture when Cruz told Trump to breathe as he interrupted him and called him "lyin' Ted," Rubio quipped, "when they're done with the yoga…," and after Cruz brushed off the comment Rubio added, "well he’s very flexible, so you never know."
Trump, who belittled Rubio as being a "little guy" who "lies," was asked about the off-the-record comments on immigration, and said that he "may have" said what is ascribed to him. However, he said he would not release the tapes because he wants to preserve the integrity of off-the-record interviews.
"On the issue of the off-the-record, that’s not up to the New York Times. That’s up to you, Donald. If tonight you tell the New York Times to release the audio, they will do it and we can exactly see what your true views are on immigration," said Rubio in response.
But when asked again if he would release the tapes, Trump gave the same argument about journalist practices.
Trump was also questioned on his stance regarding H1B1 work visas. His website voices fierce opposition to the "damage" such visas do to American workers, but recently he said he enthusiastically backs the visas.
"I’m changing it and I’m softening the position," he acknowledged.
The questioning of his policy led Trump to say "I have a very strong core," even as he added, "I have never seen a successful person who wasn’t flexible."
"There’s a difference between flexibility and telling people whatever you think you need to say to get them to do what you want them to do," Rubio shot back, saying Trump is "trying to con people."
In the debate Cruz also took aim at Trump for having sent four checks to Hillary Clinton in donations for her 2008 presidential bid.
Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday attacked Trump for being a "phony," and dozens of Republican foreign policy leaders recently said Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would even be a better option than Trump.
Trump has 316 delegates so far, Cruz has 226, and Rubio has 106. It takes 1,237 delegates to win the party nomination.