With Donald Trump boycotting, his Republican rivals used the opportunity to pummel one another Thursday night in a contentious debate that offered one of the last chances to ply Iowans before the first presidential vote of 2016.
Trump was gone but not forgotten.
The first question from co-moderator Megyn Kelly, the target of Trump’s ire, addressed “the elephant not in the room tonight,” a reference to the absent national front-runner.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is battling the billionaire businessman for Iowa’s top spot, responded in a humorous vein. “Let me say, I’m a maniac and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly, and Ben...