Fox News focus group says this Marco Rubio answer was the most important of the debate

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Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) apparently won over a Fox News focus group evaluating the network's Republican presidential debate on Thursday night.

Veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who conducted the focus group, told moderator Megyn Kelly that her grilling of Rubio on immigration had truly impressed the voters he was monitoring.

SEE ALSO: Fox News debate beat Trump event, but pulled in second-lowest ratings number

"The most important and impactful moment of this debate. It was your challenge of Marco Rubio -- and watch how well he did on immigration," Luntz told Kelly on her show after the debate.

At the debate, Kelly had pressed Rubio using his past statements on illegal immigration. As his critics often note, the Florida senator had once backed a comprehensive immigration-reform package that included a path to citizenship before backing off his own bill.

"Haven't you already proven that you cannot be trusted on this issue?" Kelly asked Rubio.

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Fox News focus group says this Marco Rubio answer was the most important of the debate
Republican Presidential candidates (L-R) Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrive for the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush laugh together after a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Jeb Bush speaks as Marco Rubio, right and John Kasich listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., looks down during a break in the Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (L) speaks as Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidates participate in the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jeb Bush argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (L) looks on as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) looks on Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich stand on the stage during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers a question as Ohio Gov. John Kasich listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) speaks as Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chris Christie argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Rand Paul makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
John Kasich argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Ted Cruz, left, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush listen to a question from moderator Chris Wallace during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seen on the television large monitors during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Marco Rubio speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Ted Cruz speaks as Marco Rubio listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (L) looks on as Ohio Gov. John Kasich gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Moderators Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier smile as they wait for a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (L) speaks as Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Moderator Megyn Kelly talks during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidates (L-R) Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrive for the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Carly Fiorina makes appoint as Mike Huckabee listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Mike Huckabee makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Carly Fiorina makes appoint as Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jim Gilmore makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Mike Huckabee argues a point as Carly Fiorina listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum , businesswoman Carly Fiorina , former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore stand for group photo before a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Rubio said matter-of-factly that he would not embrace a hard-line approach like deporting everyone who immigrated into the US illegally. However, he also said he would work through Congress and not implement major immigration-policy changes through executive action like President Barack Obama.

"Absolutely. We're not going to round up and deport 12 million people. But we're not going to go around handing out citizenship cards, either. There will be a process. We will see what the American people are willing to support. But it will not be unconstitutional executive orders," Rubio said as part of Luntz's highlight reel.

The focus group reacted by applauding. Several participants told Luntz they became Rubio supporters after watching the debate. They used words like "organized," "confident," "presidential," and "electable" to describe him, when asked to use a single word or phrase.

Luntz also said another Rubio line had sent his focus-group dials "through the roof": a Rubio joke that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) was "a good candidate for president — of Sweden."

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