The attacks were flying during Tuesday night's debate except between the two front-runners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, and MSNBC's "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough said in Wednesday's post-mortem he thinks the two top-polling candidates had an "inside deal."
"I started thinking after the debate, this was an inside deal," the former congressman said on his morning news talk show.
"You have Trump and Cruz kind of hitting each other, but they're locked in first and second place. Everybody else is a distance third. Notice everybody on the stage was attacking everybody but the top two guys."
Instead, he said, Trump went after Jeb Bush and Cruz went after Marco Rubio, but "they refuse to touch each other. It's an inside deal. If this maintains the status quo neither Jeb or Rubio catches them."
The deal, he said, is a "smart political move," and "they made it. They made a direct or indirect deal. We don't touch each other and draw no blood."
NBC correspondent Willie Geist agreed, commenting that "nobody else touched Trump, except Jeb Bush, who went after him relatively effectively sometimes."
Later in the morning, Scarborough joked that the possible agreement was like the "shake and bake" move made between Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in their comedy "Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby,"
where the two fictional race car drivers would team up with each other to beat the other drivers on the track.
And while co-host Mika Brzezinski pushed back, saying that she did not believe Trump pre-planned the kinder and gentler approach to Cruz, Scarborough argued that it was a "total inside deal. 'We're in first and second. Let's be nice to everybody. Shoot out your side, I'll shoot out my side.'"
In recent weeks, Trump and Cruz have had some back and forth, with Trump calling Cruz a "maniac" in the Senate and Cruz questioning Trump's judgment during a closed-door meeting with donors, reports The Hill.
But on Tuesday night, the men were once again friendly.
"Let me tell you something, I've gotten to know him over the last three or four days, and he has a wonderful temperament," Trump said, patting a smiling Cruz on the back. "He's just fine. Don't worry about it."
And Cruz, when asked about the meeting, commented that "what I said in private is exactly what I'll say here, which is that the judgment every voter is making here is who has the experience, the vision and judgment to be commander in chief. That's the most important decision for voters, and it's a standard I'm held to and everyone else is held to."
Moreover, he said that all nine of the people on the stage "would make an infinitely better commander in chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton."
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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