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

'Must Read': Why Isn't Marco Rubio Ahead?

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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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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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