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Trump’s Great Moderation: The 12th Republican Debate By the Numbers

The GOP front-runner focused less on his rivals and more on uniting his party, while Rubio failed to make a big splash.
Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida.

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich debate on the campus of the University of Miami on March 10, 2016 in Coral Gables, Florida.

Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“It was time,” Donald Trump told a CNN commentator after Thursday’s Republican debate. Time for the unconventional candidate, who has led the GOP presidential field for almost eight months, to finally embrace a front-runner’s traditional role of unifying his party.

Trump began the debate with an opening statement that referenced himself just once, and book-ended his performance with a call for détente in the raucous Republican race. “I just say embrace these millions of people that now for the first time ever love the Republican Party,” Trump said in his closing statement, “and unify. Be smart and unify.” Throughout the debate, the front-runner talked more about the party and the country than ever before.