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BOULDER, Colo. — A presidential debate that was supposed to focus on jobs and economic growth quickly devolved into a political food fight, a sign that leading Republican contenders are feeling the pressure as the first votes of 2016 draw near.

Prodded by the journalists moderating the third televised debate for financial news network CNBC, underdog John Kasich boxed with front-runner Donald Trump over who is more prepared to be president; struggling former front-runner Jeb Bush attacked rising contender Marco Rubio over his skipping of Senate votes (Rubio slapped him right back); Mike Huckabee got into it with Chris Christie on entitlement reform; and Ted Cruz took aim at the moderators themselves for their choice of questions, in what was perhaps the memorable moment of the night.

"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a cage match. And if you look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues?" Cruz said, to the light of the audience.

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