Voters in Florida and Ohio — the delegate-rich, winner-take-all states that have been glittering in the distance throughout this Republican primary race — will finally head to the polls next Tuesday. So Thursday's GOP debate in Miami was the last shot for the three trailing candidates to knock Donald Trump off the steamroller he's riding toward the Republican National Convention.
Trump's path to 1,237 delegates gets harder if he loses Ohio (then he'd need to win 59 percent of the remaining delegates) and much harder if voters in both states reject him (he'd need 69 percent of the remaining delegates, in that case). And the latest polls out of both states show the race is tightening between Trump and their respective native sons: Ohio Gov. John Kasich is up five points in the Buckeye State, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is nipping at Trump's heels in the Sunshine State.
Trump knows how close he is to sealing this deal — so close that RNC Chair Reince Priebus gave a pep talk before the CNN debate asking the audience to agree that any of the four candidates would be better than a Democrat. Which might explain why Trump was on his very best behavior Thursday night — no dick jokes, no nicknames, no interrupting. It was a whole new Donald. You might even call him Trump Nice.
Here were the weirdest moments of the night.
1. "They're voting out of love." -Donald Trump on his supporters
2. "I think the Republican establishment, or whatever you want to call it, should embrace what's happening." -Donald Trump on the Donald Trump phenomenon
3. "I know the H-1B [visa] very well. And it's something that I frankly use and I shouldn't be allowed to use it. We shouldn't have it. Very, very bad for workers." -Donald Trump
4. "We don't want to lock the doors and pull down the blinds and leave the world." -John Kasich, sounding a note of caution on protectionist trade policies
5. "We can't have people just walking in. Look, we lock our doors at night in our homes. The country has to be able to lock its doors as well." -John Kasich, this time on immigration
6. "I'd be maybe running for president of Croatia if we didn't have immigration." -John Kasich
7. "The Democrats support illegal immigration because they view those illegal immigrants as potential voters." -Ted Cruz
8. "The Democrats, and I've watched them very intensely — even though it's a very, very boring thing to watch — the Democrats are doing nothing with Social Security." -Donald Trump, who couldn't help but get a few insults in Thursday evening
9. "So far, I cannot believe how civil it has been up here." -Donald Trump, speaking for all of us
10. "When you specify the programs you would eliminate, then you get attacked." - Ted Cruz... bragging about the 25 government programs he would cut
11. "If you look at the average worker over the last 12 years, their salary and their pay have gone down, not up.... And I think that's why there has been such an outpouring of love to what I'm saying." -Donald Trump
12. "I mean a lot of them. I mean a lot of them." -Donald Trump on whether he really meant to say that 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide hate America
13. "I will stick with exactly what I said to Anderson Cooper." -Donald Trump, when given the chance to clarify his assertion that "Islam hates us"
14. "I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says, because he says what people wish they could say. The problem is, presidents can't just say anything they want. It has consequences, here and around the world." -Marco Rubio
15. "Marco talks about consequences. Well, we've had a lot of consequences, including airplanes flying into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and could have been the White House." -Donald Trump
16. "Women are treated horribly, and other things are happening that are very, very bad." -Donald Trump, on Islam
17. Donald Trump: "You can be politically correct if you want. I don't like to be politically correct" - Donald Trump
Marco Rubio: "I'm not interesting in being politically correct. I'm interested in being correct."
18. "In large mosques all over the Middle East you have people chanting, 'Death to the USA.' That does not sound like a friendly act to me." -Donald Trump
19. "The answer is not just to yell, 'China bad! Muslims bad!'" -Ted Cruz
20. "There's nobody on this stage that's more pro-Israel than I am.... I have tremendous love for Israel. I happen to have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish…. I've made massive contributions to Israel." -Donald Trump
21. "I would want to make a good deal, I would want to make a strong, solid, good deal because right now... all we do is keep giving. We give and give and give." -Donald Trump on how he would handle diplomatic relations with Cuba
22. "Here's a good deal: Cuba has free elections. Cuba stops putting people in jail for speaking out." -Marco Rubio
23. "If the climate is changing, one of the reasons is because the climate has always been changing. There's never been a time when the climate has not changed.... As far as a law that we can pass in Washington to change the weather, there's no such thing." -Marco Rubio
24. "America is not a planet, it's a country." -Marco Rubio
25. "People come with tremendous passion and love for this country…. It's a beautiful thing in many respects." -Donald Trump answering a question about why one of his supporters sucker-punched a protester at a recent rally
26. "We have some protesters that are bad dudes. They have done bad things.... They are really dangerous." -Donald Trump, justifying violence against protesters at his rallies
27. "That's why I have much bigger crowds than Ted — because we have a good time." -Donald Trump on his rallies
28. "Make me president." -Donald Trump, interrupting a question directed to Ted Cruz about a possible brokered convention
29. "Donald, you are welcome to be president of the Smithsonian." -Ted Cruz
30. "What a country where a son of a bartender, a son of a dishwasher, a son of a mailman, and a son of a successful businessman can stand on this stage." -Ted Cruz