Fox News moderators ended the network’s Thursday-night Republican debate by asking frontrunner Donald Trump’s three rivals whether they would support Trump if he became the party’s nominee.
And despite an overtly critical tone toward Trump over the past few weeks, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, said they would.
“I’ll support Donald if he’s the Republican nominee,” Rubio said. “And let me tell you why: Because the Democrats have two people left in the race. One is a socialist, and America is not a socialist country. If you want to be a socialist, then move to a socialist country.”
That was a reference to Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist.
“The other one is under FBI investigation,” he continued, referring to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. “Not only is she under FBI investigation, but she lied to the families of the victims of Benghazi.”
Cruz answered next, saying he too would support Trump as the nominee.
“Yes, because I gave my word that I would,” he said, referring to a Republican National Committee pledge signed by each of the GOP contenders.
Earlier in the debate, Cruz said Trump had a “tenuous relationship with the truth.” He and Trump have sparred for the past several weeks.
Finally, Kasich was asked about Trump. He said he would support him as the nominee — but predicted that he’d overtake Trump “before it’s all said and done.”
The Fox News moderators then turned to Trump, asking him whether he’d support any GOP nominee.
“Even if it’s not me?” he asked, jokingly.
He went on to say he was “very, very proud” that many more people turned out to vote in Republican contests this cycle, a fact he attributed mostly to his popularity.
“I’m going to give them some credit too, even though they don’t deserve it,” he said of the other candidates. “But the answer is: Yes I will” support the eventual nominee.