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The most memorable quotes from the Republican debate in Houston

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Posted at 7:35 AM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 07:37:13-05

In their final gathering before the Super Tuesday states go to the polls next week, the five remaining Republican presidential candidates gathered in Houston on Thursday for a rollicking debate — with Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio taking turns trying to derail Donald Trump’s front-runner status.

Here are a few of the most memorable lines.

Donald Trump on Ted Cruz: “He was in charge of amnesty, he was the leader, and you can ask Marco.”

Ben Carson opens: “Our nation is heading off the abyss of destruction.”

Ben Carson at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Ben Carson at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Trump responds to Rubio’s attack on him for hiring undocumented immigrants: “I’ve hired tens of thousands of people (in) my job. You’ve hired nobody. You’ve had nothing but problems with your credit cards.”

Rubio hits back: “If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be right now? Selling watches in Manhattan.”

Cruz jabs Trump: “And in 2013, when I was leading the fight against the ‘Gang of 8’ amnesty bill, where was Donald? He was firing Dennis Rodman on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.'”

Trump to Cruz on his lack of endorsements from GOP senators: “You don’t have the endorsement of one Republican senator and you work with these people. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Cruz responds: “Donald, if you want to be liked in Washington, that’s not a good attribute for a president.”

Trump on former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s assertion, “I’m not going to pay for that f***ing wall”: “This guy used a filthy, disgusting word on television, and he should be ashamed of himself and he should apologize.”

Rubio attacks Trump again for hiring undocumented immigrants: “If he builds a wall the way he built Trump Tower, he’ll use illegal immigrants to do it.”

Donald Trump and Marco Rubio at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Donald Trump and Marco Rubio at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Trump on the court challenges stemming from his Trump University: “I won most of the lawsuits.”

Trump defends his past defense of Planned Parenthood: “I would defund it because I’m pro-life, but millions of women are helped by Planned Parenthood.”

Carson on how he would pick a Supreme Court nominee: “The fruit salad of their life is what I will look at.”

Trump mocked Rubio for repeating the same line at a past debate, but the Florida senator returned the favor: “I see (Trump) repeat himself every night. He says five things: Everyone’s dumb, he’s gonna make America great again, we’re gonna win, win, win, he’s winning in the polls, and the lines around the state.”

Donald Trump at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Donald Trump at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Trump on Rubio and Cruz: “This guy’s a choke artist and this guy’s a liar.”

Carson, feeling left out while Cruz, Trump and Rubio argue: “Can somebody attack me, please?”

John Kasich on how he’d settle the government’s fight with Apple over encryption: “The problem is not right now between the administration and Apple. You know what the problem is? Where has the President been? You sit down in a back room with the parties and work this out.”

John Kasich at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

John Kasich at the CNN GOP presidential debate in Houston, Texas on February 25, 2016.

Trump to Cruz: “I’m relaxed. You’re the basket case.”

Speaking to CNN’s Chris Cuomo after the debate, Trump mused about why he’s been audited so often: “Maybe because of religion, maybe because of something else, maybe because I’m doing this, although this is just recently.” Then, after being pressed to explain: “Well, maybe because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian and I feel strongly about it. Maybe there’s a bias.”