NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — With just over two weeks until voting begins, Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz firmly asserted their standing atop the GOP race in a fiery debate, overshadowing a crowded field of rivals still grappling for a way to overtake the front-runners.
Trump stuck with his controversial call for temporarily banning Muslims from the United States because of fear of attacks emanating from abroad. He said he had no regrets about the proposal and noted his poll numbers went up after he announced the plan.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has emerged as a frequent critic of Trump, urged the front-runner to reconsider the policy.
“What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world?” said Bush, who has struggled to gain any momentum in the race and often appeared overshadowed Thursday night.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich also broke with Trump on the Muslim ban, but like the entire GOP field, called for at least a temporary halt on the Obama administration’s plan to allow thousands of Syrian refugees into the country.
“I’ve been for pausing the Syrian refugees,” Kasich said. “But we don’t want to put everybody in the same category.”