Candidates take shots at GOP frontrunner

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jan 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 22:52:28-05

Without Donald Trump, seven of the top eight candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president took center stage for a nationally televised debate on Fox News Channel Thursday evening in the state capital of Iowa. 

Thursday's debate was the final one before the first votes are cast for the 2016 election when Iowa voters make their pick for their party's nominees on Monday.

Trump was the focus of the first few questions asked by the moderators, before the conversation quickly moved onto foreign policy. Trump's absence was not enough to stop candidates from talking about him. 

Sen. Ted Cruz, the leading Republican behind Trump, filled in for Trump by jokingly insulting those on stage. 

"I'm a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly. And Ben, you're a terrible surgeon," Cruz said. 

Cruz then thanked the other candidates for showing Iowa voters the respect he says they are due by showing up to make their case about why they should president.

Sen. Marco Rubio was not too worried about Trump's decision to skip Thursday's debate.

"This campaign is not about Donald Trump," but about making sure Hillary Clinton doesn't win in November, Rubio said.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Trump is "a little teddy bear" and mocks his rivals for seeking the "witness protection program" instead of attacking Trump also.