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***Live Updates*** GOP Debate Night in South Carolina


The Republican presidential candidates debate tonight in North Charleston, South Carolina less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.


Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum will participate in the undercard debate, which starts at 6 PM EST on Fox Business Network. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was bumped from the main even and will boycott the debate.

Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Ohio Governor John Kasich will be in the main event.

Cruz and Trump are in a dead heat in Iowa. And both need to be careful to not alienate potential crossover supporters in the debate if they attack the other. Trump has raised the issue of whether Cruz is a “natural-born citizen” who is qualified to be President and Cruz has the chance to put the issue to rest on the national state. Cruz has been attacking Trump’s “New York values,” and it will be interesting to see whether Cruz goes for a knockout punch, which could also leave himself open to a counterpunch that could KO him, against Trump. Cruz needs to win Iowa in order to have as much momentum as possible going into the “SEC primary.” Cruz’s organization in the South puts him in a strong position to do well, but he needs to still be viable by then. Though Trump has a huge lead in New Hampshire, one can argue that it makes complete sense for his campaign to go all-in in Iowa and seek to effectively end the GOP primary with a big win there.

Messrs. Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Rubio are battling in New Hampshire to emerge as the trying to emerge as the establishment’s anti-Trump/Cruz alternative. And they may focus less on the frontrunners and more on highlighting their differences. Carson, who has faded after being at the top of the polls and whose campaign is on the ropes, must save his candidacy and needs a moment in this debate that will allow him to do so.

Because there are fewer candidates on stage, viewers may finally get a much more substantive debate/discussion devoid of much of the “freak show” elements of politics.

Trish Regan and Sandra Smith will moderate the undercard debate. Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo will moderate the main event.

Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates.

Closing Statements:

Trump says he stood yesterday with 75 construction workers who are tough, strong, great people. He says half of them had tears pouring down their face watching the humiliation of our young ten sailors in Iran. He said it was a “terrible sight” and “there won’t be stupid deals anymore” and “we will win on everything we do” if he is president.

Cruz says that “13 Hours” will debut tomorrow about the brave men who fought for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians who betrayed them. Cruz blasts Obama for not saying “radical Islamic terrorism” and sending billions to Iran. He blasts Clinton for apologizing for saying “all lives matter.” Cruz says “this will end on January 2017″ and he will have the backs of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, police officers, and first responders, and firefighters who risk their lives to keep us safe.”

Rubio says America was founded on the principle that our rights come from God and not from government. Rubio says as he travels the country, people tell him that they feel like they are being left behind. He says the reason is simple–in 2008, America elected a president who wants to change America instead of fixing America and make it more like the rest of the world. Rubio accuses Obama of undermining the Constitution and betraying our allies. A solid closing argument from Rubio.

Carson says that in his recent travels around the country, he has encountered so many Americans who are discouraged and angry because America’s freedoms are slipping away. He says “we’re not going to solve this problem with traditional politics” but with “we the people.” Carson says we will “heal, inspire, and revive” America for our children.

Christie says he his thinking about the Americans who watched Obama talk about fantasyland when they know that the country is not respected anymore. He says Obama doesn’t feel their pain and Christie will “be a fighter for this country again.” He talks about  how he has been a fighter his whole life. He says we will make America much more exceptional by making sure Hillary Clinton never gets in the White House.

Bush says results count and Americans can count on him to keep America “safer, stronger, freer.” He cites his record in Florida and his “detailed plans” on ISIS. Bush asks for support to build together a safer, stronger America.

Kasich says he has fought to give voice to people who grew up with him and those who elected him. He talks about welfare reform, Pentagon reform, taking on special interests in the nursing home industry in Ohio. He says that’s who is in his mind’s eye and he will continue to fight for those who think they can get their voice back.

11:07 PM: Bartiromo finally asks Rubio about immigration. She says under current law, America is on pace to issue more green cards in the next five years than the entire population of South Carolina. She notes that the CBO found that his “Gang of Eight” bill would have increased green cards by another ten million. She asks him bluntly, “why are you so interested in opening up borders to foreigners when American workers have a hard enough time finding work?”

Rubio says the issue has been debated for 30 years. His mind is spinning on how to avoid answering the question. He says the immigration question has to be about keeping America safe. He says radical Islamic Jihadists are recruiting doctors, engineers, and even fiancees. He says America’s top priority should be to not let ISIS get terrorists into the United States.

Bartiromo just asked the question because she had to, but does a terrible follow-up job. The debate could have had a very substantive discussion on immigration/economy but, predictably, viewers did not get that.

Rubio says the issue is a dramatically different issue than it was 24 months ago. He says the entire legal immigration system must be reexamined for security reasons.

Cruz says “radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago,”

He notes that he stood with Messrs. Sessions/King to stop Rubio’s amnesty bill because “border security is national security.”

Rubio accuses Cruz of having supported doubling the number of green cards and increasing guest-workers by 500%. Rubio says Cruz used to support legalizing illegal immigrants and birthright citizenship and “now you oppose it.” He says that is not “consistent conservatism.” He slams Cruz for calling Snowden a “great public servant.” He says every time there is a defense bill in the Senate, Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Cruz team up to vote against it.

Cruz says he appreciates Rubio dumping his oppo-research folder. Cruz says that Rubio stood with Schumer/Obama on amnesty and he stood with Sessions/King. Cruz points out that Rubio still supports amnesty for illegal immigrants, taking Rubio to task and holding Rubio accountable in a way that the moderators should have.

Immigration is the top issue in the GOP primary. There should have been much more time devoted to a substantive debate on the matter. Absolutely terrible.

11:05PM: Pro-Rand Paul Protesters briefly interrupt Cavuto as he asks Kasich a question about Chicago’s move to retrain police officers to not use their guns as quickly. He says he created a task force to bring together law enforcement, community members, the clergy, etc. Kasich says they sat down as a group and gave him 23 recommendations. One of them, he says, is statewide guidelines on the use of deadly force. Another is on hiring and recruiting and more resources for training. He says there needs to be more integration between community/police. He says the community needs to understand that the police officer wants to get home at night and not to lose their life  and the police needs to understand that there are people in the community think the system doesn’t work for them and actually works against them. Kasich says people need to realize that protest is fine but violence is wrong.

11:03 PM: Cavuto asks Christie about violent crime spiking in cities across the country and what he would do to address that and the concerns police have about being sued, etc.

Christie says FBI Director Jim Comey said a chill wind is blowing through law enforcement because Obama and both of his attorneys general “gives the benefit of the doubt to the criminal and not the police officer.”

Christie says Obama believes “law enforcement are the bad guys.”

Christie says “sanctuary cities are a part of the problem.” He blasts Obama for not enforcing marijuana laws. Christie says he would appoint an Attorney General and would order his AG to enforce the “law against everyone justly, aggressively, fairly” and let police officers know “how proud we are of them.”

11 PM: Bartiromo asks Trump how difficult it will be to disentangle himself from his business/money and prioritize America’s interest first.

“If I become President, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts,” Trump says.

He says he wants to make America rich and great again and he has his children run the company.

“I’m going to do it for America,” Trump says.

Trump says his children and executives would run his companies/holdings and would not care about anything except America.

10:49: Rubio is asked about entitlement reform. Rubio says the tax issue is related to the entitlement issue. He differentiates himself from Cruz by saying he will not have a value-added tax. Rubio says the VAT tax is a way to “blindfold the people so the true cost of government is not there for them.” Rubio says what is there to prevent a future liberal Congress/President from raising the income tax and the VAT tax, if it is instituted. He says he is going to side with Ronald Reagan and not Nancy Pelosi on the issue.

Cruz says that “Marco has been floating this attack for a few weeks,” but his “business flat tax” is not a VAT tax. Cruz says the 16% business flat tax will allow for the death tax, the corporate income tax, the payroll tax, the Obamacare taxes.

Cruz says his tax plan gives every American a simple flat tax rate of 10% (he says Rubio’s top tax rate is 35%) and enables Americans to fill out their taxes on a postcard “so we can abolish the IRS” while Rubio’s leaves the IRS in place.

“We need to break the Washington cartel,” he says. “And the only way to do it is to end all the subsidies and all the mandates and have a simple flat tax.”

Cruz says that Art Laffer has praised Cruz’s tax plan as the best.

Rubio claims that he is not accurately describing his plan because there will be some agency that will collect what he says is Cruz’s VAT tax. He warns against a liberal administration/Congress raising the income/VAT tax. “Now we have Europe,” he says.

Christie says he is the only one on the stage who put forth a detailed entitlement reform program that will save Social Security/Medicare without raising taxes.

10:47: Carson is asked about U.S. companies having $2 trillion overseas. He is asked what he will do stop companies from leaving America because of its high corporate tax rate. Carson talks up his flat tax plan. He says “we have to stop spending so much money” and fix the taxation system, get rid of regulations because “every regulation is a tax on goods and services” and “it’s the most regressive tax there is.” Carson says the “evil government” and not the “evil rich people” that are destroying the economy.

Trump adds that corporate inversion is one of the biggest problems we have.

10:45: Bartiromo asks Christie what his plan is to fix America’s infrastructure without raising taxes.

Christie says a one-time 8.75% tax on repatriated funds will be dedicated to building up Ameriaca’s infrastructure and creating more American jobs. Christie says Obama has “penalized corporations in America” and what that does is hurt hard-working taxpayers.

Trump says Jeb would be a “weak president.” His “low-energy” jab on Jeb was KO shot.

Trump blasts the New York Times for saying that he would impose a 45% tariff on China. He says that China has “total control of North Korea and they can solve the problem of North Korea if they wanted to” but instead they “taunt us.”

He says China is “ripping us on tried, they are devaluing their currencies, and they’re killing our companies.”

He says America has lost 4-7 million jobs because of China and cites America’s $5.5 billion trade deficit with China. Trump says we have great economic power over China and if we wanted to use that… He says the 45% tariff figure would balance China’s devaluing its currency.

Caveat asks Trump whether he would be open to tariffs on Chinese goods, and, he rarely sidesteps the question as Cavuto tries to pin him down.

Trump says that China taxes American when it deals with American goods. Trump says since “we don’t have an equal playing field,” we don’t have to lose $5.5 billion for the privilege of trading with China. Trump says “he is totally open to a tariff” if China doesn’t treat us fairly. He says he is a free trader but this is “not fair trade.”

Candidates are asked whether America should push the pause button on Muslim immigration:

Kasich says he is for a pause on Syrian refugees but “we don’t want to put everybody in the same category.”

Christie says we should take no Syrian refugees of any kind because we cannot guarantee proper vetting. But he says that “you can’t just ban all Muslims. You have to ban radical Islamic Jihadists.”

Rubio says that Obama has underestimated the threat of radical Islam.

“If we do not know who you are and we do not know why you are coming, when I am president, you are not getting into the United States of America.

Another non-answer from professional politician Rubio.

Cruz says we need a Commander-in-Chief who is focused on keeping this country safe. He says we pass legislation that strips citizenship from Americans who go and fight with ISIS.

The Senator doesn’t really answer the question and sounds like a Senator, but ends by saying “we will not let in refugees controlled by ISIS and al-Qaeda” (more viewer-friendly to say this first).

Carson says there needs to be new guidelines for immigration/visas.

Bush says we should destroy ISIS by creating no-fly zones and safe-zones for the refugees.

Jeb to Trump: I Hope You Reconsider Temporary Muslim Ban

10:16: Trump is asked about his temporary Muslim ban. Bartiromo asks if there is anything he has heard that makes him want to rethink his position.

Trump, who always answers the question, simple and directly says, “no.”

“We have to stop with political correctness. We have to get down to creating a country that is not going to have the problems we’ve had with people flying planes into the World Trade Centers… with the shootings in California.”

Trump mentions that he said “temporarily” and not “permanently.” Trump says some of his Muslim friends have thanked him for highlighting the problem in Islam.

“We have a serious problem. We can’t be the stupid country anymore,” Trump says.

Bush asks Trump to reconsider because it makes it impossible to build the coalition to take out ISIS.

“I hope you’ll reconsider,” Jeb says. “All Muslims. Seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace and security.”

Jeb again says Trump’s comments “are unhinged.”

Cavuto asks whether all the people who agree with Trump are “unhinged,” and Jeb responds, “absolutely not.”

When Cavuto points out that Trump’s poll numbers went up after his temporary Muslim ban, Trump responds, “11 points in South Carolina.” The man knows his polls.

Trump says he’s tired of seeing what’s going on at the border and “I want security for this country. We have a serious problem with… radical Islam. We have a tremendous problem.”

Trump says he wants to find out why the two horrible people in San Bernardino murdered the innocent people who threw them a baby shower and why their neighbors didn’t call the police.

He says the police are the “most mistreated people” in this country.

“There’s something going on and it’s bad, and I’m saying we have to get to the bottom of it.”

10:14: Carson says the Obama administration does not recognize how serious ISIS’s threat is. He says America needs to take away ISIS’s caliphate and we should give military officials what they need to destroy ISIS. Carson says that in addition to that, we take ISIS’s oil because it is their source of revenue (echoing Trump). Carson says we need to shut down their mechanisms of funding and attack their command-and-control centers.

Christie says there will be no peace so long as Assad is in charge in Syria. Christie says America must enlist the Arab countries who believe ISIS is a threat and bring them together. He slams Hillary Clinton and warns against the dangers of giving Clinton, who enabled ISIS’s rise, four years in the White House. He says we have fewer democracies in the world since Obama took office.

10:02: Cruz is asked to explain his “New York values” dig at Trump. He says that “most people know exactly what New York values are.”

Bartiromo says she is from New York. And Cruz says since she is from New York, she may not but people in South Carolina do.

He says the values in New York city are “socially liberal, pr0-abortion, pro-gay rights, focused around money and the media.”

He says the concept of New York values is not too hard to figure out. And Cruz says Trump explained some of his more liberal positions in the past because he is from New York. Cruz says that “not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan. I’m just saying.”

Trump says that conservatives do come out of Manhattan like William F. Buckley.

He then says that when 9/11 occurred in New York, I saw something that no place on earth could have  handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York.” He saw the “most horrific cleanup” and the people of New York fought and fought. We saw more death…” Trump says that the smell of death was in the air and the city built itself back up.

“I have to tell you. That was a very insulting statement that Ted made,” Trump says.

Regardless of Trump’s great answer on the question, painting Trump as a “northerner” will work in the South. But it will be neutralized to some extent because there are folks that are still uncomfortable with the fact that Cruz was born in Canada. Trump could have, in a friendly way, talked about Cruz’s Canadian citizenship and made a joke about it.

9:54: Trump is asked if there are any circumstances under wish we should be limiting gun sales.

“No,” he says. “I am a Second-Amendment person.”

Trump says if the San Bernardino victims had guns, many would not have died.

He agrees with Jeb about the country’s mental health problem. And he says that “guns don’t pull the trigger. People pull the trigger.”

Trump says Obama doesn’t want to bring people together and his executive orders are proof of that

Rubio says that gun sales have increased under Obama because people are afraid Obama will take away their guns.

He says the Second Amendment is “not an option, but a Constitutional right of every American to be able to protect themselves and their families.” Rubio says that he is convinced that Obama would confiscate all guns and get rid of the Second Amendment if he could.

Cruz says you prosecute criminals and target bad guys to reduce gun violence. He points out that Attorney General Eric Holder said his mission was to brainwash the American people against guns. Cruz says Obama also launched Fast and Furious. He also says that Hillary Clinton agrees with the Supreme Court dissenters in the Heller case who believe that the Second Amendment protects no individual right to keep and bear arms whatsoever.

Cruz says if their view prevails, the Supreme Court will rule that not a single person has a right to bear arms and they will confiscate your guns. Cruz says that unless you are clinically insane, every Republican will say they support the Second Amendment in a GOP primary. Cruz points out he has a record of defending the Second Amendment and points out that he led the opposition against Obama’s gun-control legislation and the other individuals on the stage were “nowhere to be found on that fight.”

9:52: Jeb is asked about gun rights. Bush wants to recognize Haley for what she did after the Charleston shootings and the “people in that Church that showed the grace of God and the grace of forgiveness and the mercy that they showed.”

Bush says that in Dylan Roof’s case, the FBI made a mistake and didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain on background checks. He says we don’t need to add new rules, we just need to enforce the laws on the books.

He says the first impulse of Obama/Clinton is they want to rights away from law-abiding citizens.

9:46: Carson is asked what he thinks about allegations that Hillary Clinton has been an enabler of Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct.

Carson says that there is no question that “we should be able to look at any past president… in terms of their past behavior and what it means.” Carson says the real issue is whether America still has standards, values, and principles. He speaks about all the divisiveness and hatred that is going on in society and says that our strength is in our unity.

He asks where the nastiness came from… and says it it “did not come from our Judeo-Christrian roots.” Carson says Americans must recognize that there “is a right and wrong” and progressives should not be able to take that out of the culture.

9:43: Kasich is asked what is says about America when a self-avowed socialist like Sanders is catching fire. Kasich says that Republicans will win every state if Sanders is the nominee. He says that wages haven’t risen because the Fed has kept interest rates low and workers have not been given the skills they need. He says workers are upset when they get fired when they are 50 and they do not know where to go. He says we have to do a lot about the high cost of higher education and train people for good jobs that pay. He says people are very concerned about their economic future and we have to make sure that every America has the tools and people can think the American dream still exists.

9:40: Rubio, when asked about sliming Christie, says Obama is undermining the constitutional basis of the United States and says we cannot have a president who supports Common Core and gun control.

Rubio mentions that Christie wrote a check to Planned Parenthood and “our next president has to be someone that un-does the damage Barack Obama has done to our country. It cannot be someone that agrees with his agenda. Because the damage he has done to America is extraordinary… If we don’t get this election right, there may be no turning back for America.”

Christie denies that he wrote a check to Planned Parenthood. He says that he is not for more gun control and Common Core has been eliminated in his state. He says since Rubio is a Senator, he can just keep talking without any accountability. Christie says that two years ago, Rubio called Christie a “conservative reformer that New Jersey needed” and now Rubio has changed his tune.

They are both really going after the New Hampshire vote.

Bush talks about a conservative agenda that “doesn’t disparage people” because every person here is better than Hillary Clinton.

Carson says he was mentioned because Bush said “everybody.” Carson says that in 2012, Republicans tore themselves apart and “we have to stop this. If we manage to damage ourselves, and we lose the next election, and a progressive gets in there and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, this  nation is over as we know it. We gotta look at the big picture here.”

9: 38: Trump is asked about Haley’s State of the Union address and her comment about resisting “the siren call of the angriest voices.”

Trump says that he is friends with Haley. He says that yes he is indeed “very angry because our country is being run horribly.”

“I will gladly accept the mantle of anger,” Trump says. (worth nothing that a University of Michigan study found that anger indeed drives people to vote. And Trump is trying to get many first-time voters and those who have not participated in elections to vote for him).

He says our military is a disaster, our healthcare is a “horror show,” we have no borders, “our vets are being treated horribly,” “illegal immigration is beyond belief. Our country is being run by incompetent people. And yes, I am angry. And I won’t be angry when we fix it. And until we fix it, I am very very angry.”

Trump says Haley spoke the truth and didn’t find it offensive because he’s “angry because our country is a mess.”

9:28: Cavuto says that Cruz is strict Constitutionalist. He asks the “natural-born citizen” question. Cavuto notes that Trump and others have said that Cruz is not a “natural-born citizen.”

Here’s the full exchange here, courtesy of Joel.

Cruz says, “I’m glad we’re focusing on the important topics of the evening.”

He says that back in September, Trump said his lawyers said there was “nothing to this birther issue.” He says “since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have. I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really clear. The child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a natural-born citizen.”

A great answer from Cruz. Much better than his explanation about his $1 million loan.

Cruz says some of the more extreme birthers say that a “natural-born citizen” must have two parents born on U.S. soil. He says under that theory, Cruz, Rubio, Bobby Jindal and, “interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified because Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was born here.”

“On the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you,” Cruz says.

Trump answers, “because it wouldn’t work.”

Trump says that NBC/Wall Street Journal just came out with a poll headlined “Trump way up, Cruz going down.”

After the crowd boos, Trump says “they don’t like the Wall Street Journal, NBC, but I like the poll.”

Trump says he is beating Cruz in the last three Iowa polls and accuses Cruz of misrepresenting his poll numbers.

Trump says he thinks he is going to win fair and square. He says Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, who was one of Obama’s earliest backers, has questioned whether Cruz is qualified to be president. Trump says the problem is that if Trump chooses Cruz as his vice presidential candidate, the Democrats sue because “we can’t take him along for the ride. I don’t like that. The fact is… and if for some reason he beats the rest of the field (when the crowd boos, Trump quips they don’t like that he beats the rest of the field because they want me), I already know the Democrats are going to be bringing a suit. You have a big lawsuit over your head while you’re running.”

“If you become the nominee, who the hell knows if you can be serving in office. So you should go out, get a declaratory judgment. Let the courts decide,” Trump says.

He says he’s raising the issue now because he’s “been doing a little bit better.” He says now Cruz has a 4/5% chance.

Say what you want about Trump, but he is refreshingly honest about his tactics and doesn’t talk like the traditional politician.

Trump says that he has been defending the Constitution his entire life before the Supreme Court, “and I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.”

Trump says he doesn’t have to. “Take it from your own professor,” Trump says.

Cruz says the chances of any litigation succeeding and proceeding on this is zero.

Cruz adds that Tribe was Al Gore’s lawyer and a major Hillary supporter. Cruz says Clinton’s supporters are attacking Cruz because they want Trump as the GOP nominee. And Trump says he is happy to consider Trump as his VP so if Trump is right, “he can get the top job at the end of the day.” Trump says he would go back to “building buildings if it doesn’t work out,” but he has a feeling that it will work out.

Rubio apologizes for interrupting “Court TV” and says this election has to be about reversing all the damage Obama has inflicted on the country.

9:22: Cruz is asked about allegations that he did not disclose a $1 million loan from Goldman Sachs.

Cruz tells Bartiromo, “Well, Maria, thank you for passing on that hit piece on the front page of the New  York Times.” He rails against the New York Times and the mainstream media that have been out to get him.

“The New York Times and I don’t have the warmest of relationships,” he says.

Cruz says that unlike Clinton, he doesn’t have hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. He says his opponent David Dewhurst in the Senate put in $25 million and Cruz had to put in money to defend himself against the attack ads and fund the campaign. Cruz says he and his wife took a loan against their assets to defend themselves against the attack ads and says he made a “paperwork error.”

“If that’s the best hit the New York Times has got, they better go back to the well,” he says.

Cruz needed a more succinct explanation. His answer was too much in the weeds. He sounds like a Senator. And when you are explaining like a Senator, you are losing to viewers.

9:20: Trump is asked about Syrian refugees.

“It’s not fear and terror. It’s reality,” Trump says of the threat of terrorism. He says you have to look at Indonesia, San Bernardino, Paris. Trump says the Syrian doctor  who Obama said is the “real face of the refugees” is not representative. Trump says the refugees can be “the great Trojan horse.” He said when he looked at the migration line, there were very few women and children and there were “strong, powerful men. Young.” He says “people are looking at that and saying, ‘what’s going on.'”

Trump says we are $19 trillion in debt and we can’t let all these refugees come in and break our borders. “We just can’t do it,” he says.

Breitbart Editor-at-Large Joel Pollak on Cruz:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) fielded the first question of the GOP Debate in Charleston, South Carolina. When he was asked a question about jobs, he took the opportunity to preface his answer by slamming President Barack Obama for ignoring the plight of ten U.S. Navy sailors who had been seized by Iran on Tuesday.

Moderator Maria Bartiromo asked Cruz to respond to President Barack Obama’s contention in the State of the Union address that those talking about an economic decline in America were “peddling fiction.”

Cruz answered:

Let me start–I want to get to the substance of the question on jobs. But I want to start with something. Today many of us picked up our newspapers, and we were horrified to see the sight of ten American sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads. In that State of the Union, President Obama didn’t so much as mention the ten sailors that had been captured by Iran. President Obama’s preparing to send 100 billion dollars or more to the Ayatollah Khamenei. And I tell you, it was heartbreaking. But the good news is: The next commander-in-chief is standing on this stage.


And I give you my word, if I am elected president, no serviceman or servicewoman will be forced to be on their knees in any nation that captures our fighting men and women. We’ll field the full force and fury of the United States of America.


The sailors were freed Wednesday, after being paraded on Iranian television.

Cruz went to talk about “the Obama/Clinton economy” that “has left behind the working men and women” of America while enriching a circle of cronies in Washington, D.C.

9:18: Next up is Carson. He is asked how America attacks a network that does not accept national borders. Carson says he is glad to get a question this early on. He says that Obama doesn’t realize that we live in the 21st century and war is different from how it was before. He says we have dirty bombs, cyber attacks, and people who will be attacking our electrical grid.

9:15: Cavuto asks Rubio how he would define the terror threat. Rubio, like everyone else, doesn’t answer the initial question and says Hillary is “disqualified to be president of the United States.” He says someone who mishandles intelligence information and lies to the families of the Benghazi victims “can never be president of the United States.”

Rubio says that Obama thinks America is an “arrogant global power that needs to be cut down to size.” He says that is why we have a foreign policy in which America cuts deals with Iran, betrays Israel, and apologizes for America. Rubio says there is a war against radical jihadists and either they win or we win. Rubio says if America captures any ISIS member alive, they are getting a “one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

9:12: Next question for Jeb. Still nothing for Trump.

Bush says that the idea that we are somehow better off today than when Obama was elected is “totally an alternative universe.” He says the “world has been torn asunder.” He says Obama talks about red lines with “grandiose language” but does nothing to follow it up. Bush says Obama is missing the point that America leadership is required to have peace and stability in the world and speaks about “peace through strength” and how the Obama administration has gutted the nation’s military. He says our enemies don’t fear us and our friends no longer think we have their backs. Bush says if Clinton gets elected, Hillary may be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse.

9:09: Christie is asked where and when a president should use military action to restore order. Still no question for Trump.

Christie says on Tuesday night he watched “story time” with Barack Obama and it sounded like everything in the world was going amazing. Christie says we have to strengthen our alliances around the world and our allies need to be able to count on our word. He says the one thing that has never been said about him is that he is misunderstood. He says the adversaries have to understand the limits of our patience. Christie says it was “absolutely disgraceful” that the Iran situation showed our relations were getting better and tried to spin the ten American soldiers who were forced to their knees as something positive.

Christie, when pressed on the original question, says he will use military action if it is absolutely necessary to protect American lives and interests around the world. He says, though, that America is not the world’s police force.

9:07: Kasich says commonsense regulations, tax cuts, and balanced budgets grow the economy. He touts the balanced budget that he help orchestrate when he was in Congress.

9:05: The first question on the economy goes to Cruz. He sidesteps the question and says Americans were horrified to see the ten American sailors on their knees. He says Obama is preparing to send hundreds of billions of Iran and did not mention the sailors in his State of the Union address. He says if he is elected president, Americans will not be on their knees and any nation that captures our men and women will face the full force of the United States of America

On the question, he says Obama tried to paint a rosy situation because Washington lobbyists are doing great under Obama but the workforce participation rate is dismal. He says the Obama administration has left behind the working men and women of this country.

9:oo PM: The seven candidates now take the stage.

8:55 PM: The main event is about to begin and Republican National Committee Chair says the party will support whomever the nominee is.

7:00: Santorum says America is frustrated and angry and looking for someone who is a fighter and a winner. He says there is one person in the race that has taken on Hillary Clinton on partial-birth abortion. He says he is going to take some of Rand Paul’s time and says he has fought Clinton on Iran sanctions. He says he ran against the Clinton machine in 1994 and won against the Carville/Begala machine.

Huckabee says he also fought the Clinton machine. He says he spent the first half of his adult life raising a family and understanding how tough it is for people to make it. He says he understood then that America needed politicians who haven’t spent their whole lives running for office. He says there needs to be leadership that addresses the moral issues of our country. He asks politicians say “God Bless America” at the end of every political speech and asks, “how can we do that when we continue to slaughter 4,000 babies a day.” He wants to be a president who protects the unborn under the 5th/14th Amendments.

Fiorina says her husband Frank was excited the other day because he was introduced as her “eye candy.” She says Americans would pay to see a debate between her and Hillary Clinton. Fiorina says she has been told all her life to sit down and be quiet, settle, and don’t challenge the system. She says Americans are being told to sit down and be quite about our God, about our guns, about the abortion industry. Settle for illegal immigration that has been a problem for decades…accept a system of government and politics that no longer works for us. I will not sit down and be quiet. And neither will you. So, I ask you to stand with me, fight with me, vote for me.”

Give Fiorina credit on this. She often has the best closing statements, and changes them and keeps them fresh up unlike Rubio who says the same thing every time.

But there’s something about her that is a little too mechanical. Replace Hillary Clinton with Fiorina in Obama’s “Vote Different” ad that was a remake of the famous 1984 Apple ad and it would work just as well.

6:57: Santorum talks up Robert Putnam’s Our Kids (it’s a great book)He says the liberal sociologist sought to write about the hollowing out of the middle class and discovered, after studying all of the information, that the biggest reason we are seeing the hollowing out of the middle of America is the breakdown of the American family. This is one of Santorum’s strongest areas. And he says “we’ve been too politically correct in this country because we don’t want to offend anybody to fight for the lives of our children.”

Santorum says Obama should use his bully pulpit to ask America to rebuild the American family, because that will change the economy.

Extremely strong moment/answer from Santorum. That message on rebuilding the American family is something that resonates across party/racial/ethnic lines.

6:54: Huckabee is asked about automation and how it threatens workers’ ability to get higher wages. He says the reason so many people have a tough time getting ahead is that the tax system punishes Americans as they move up the economic ladder. He again uses his time to speak up the Fair Tax.

6:50: Fiorina is asked about the widening income gap and restoring the Middle Class that is no longer the majority. She says that when government gets bigger, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the Middle Class gets squeezed. Fiorina talks bout reforming the tax code, focusing on every single dollar the government spends.

6:43: Huckabee is asked how the country can pay down its debt without cutting Social Security/Medicare. He says Social Security is not the government’s money. “It belongs to the people who had it taken out of their checks involuntarily their entire working lives. For the government to say well, it’s the fault of the working people that we have a social security problem. No, it’s the fault of the government that used those people’s money for something other than protecting those people’s accounts. Let’s not blame them and punish them.”

Huckabee says working until 70 is great for white-collar people with a desk jobs but it’s a different story for laborers. Huckabee then speaks about the Fair Tax that will “super charge” the economy.

6:40: Santorum: ‘We Need to Be the Party that Stands for the American Worker’

Santorum says America’s numbers don’t add up re: adding manufacturing jobs. He says Obama has done more to take jobs away from hard-working people who are struggling the most. Santorum says the 74% of Americans who don’t have a college degree will end up paying for Obama’s free community college program. He says nobody is focused on the people who are struggling the most in America today. Santorum then turns to immigration. He says wages are flattening because nearly all illegal immigrants and most legal immigrants are working in wage-earning jobs. He says it is unfortunate that most of the candidates in the field and both political parties favor amnesty and allowing illegal immigrants to stay here while increasing levels of legal immigration.

“We need to be the party that stands for the American worker,” he says.

6:38: Santorum is asked about how vulnerable America’s infrastructure is to terrorism. Santorum warns against electromagnetic pulse attacks and he says the best way to prevent that from happening is to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon so they can’t explode a device over out atmosphere. He says Obama has put Iran on a path toward a nuclear weapon while America has done nothing to harden our electric grid so American can survive an EMP attack.

6:35: Huckabee: Obama More Interested in ‘Protecting the Reputation and Image of Islam than He Is in Protecting Us.”

Huckabee says it’s time to look at America’s visa-waiver program. He points out that the European Union is a failure and is making Europe less safe. He says our first and foremost responsibility is to protect America and Americans and he says Obama who seems to be more interested in protecting the reputation and image of Islam than he is in protecting us.”

He says Obama needs to read his own FBI crime stats that say that 58% of religious hate crimes have been directed toward Jews last year while 16% were directed towards Muslims. He says maybe Obama should have spoken out against the the rise of anti-Semitic comments.

Huckabee says a slowed-down commerce that makes America more safe is worth it re: stopping the visa-waiver program.

He blasts Obama for promising Americans they can keep their doctors and insurance plans.

He says the latest is “if you like your gun, you can keep it, too. And frankly, we don’t buy it. We don’t believe it. He’s lost his credibility.”

6:31: Huckabee is asked if there is anything that can be done at the federal level to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals. He says the government should never do anything “idiotic” like “Fast and Furious” where the U.S. government put guns in the hands of Mexican drug lords that resulted in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.

Huckabee says there is no “gun-show loophole” and he blasts Obama for saying it is “easier to get guns than groceries.” He says it is much more difficult to purchase firearms than to get ingredients for a salad at the grocery store. Huckabee says Obama keeps retrying things that don’t work on gun violence and says that one common thing re: the mass shootings is that they happened in gun-free zones. And people who could have stood up and tried to stop the attacks were not allowed to under the law.

6:28: Fiorina is asked about Obama’s executive orders on gun control. She blasts Obama’s “lawless executive order” and says Obama is again trying to unilaterally override what he could not get passed in Congress.

“Sorry, Mr. President. Not the way the Constitution works,” she says.

Fiorina says we need to enforce the laws we have. She then takes the technology question that Santorum was asked. She says bureaucracies do not know how to innovate and there are specific things the private sector should be asked to do to help the government since it has the capabilities the government does not have.

She also says America must have a president who understands technology.

“Mrs. Clinton, you cannot wipe a server with a towel,” she says.

6:25: Santorum says a lot of technologists are very skilled but they are not “war fighters.” He says America need more leadership on how to go on the offensive against our enemies online. He says America’s enemies who launch cyberattacks are not punished. He says it is dicey for government to force companies like Facebook/Twitter to do the job that the U.S. government should be doing.

It’s interesting that so much of the “economic debate” has centered around foreign policy. If the questions focus more on the economy, I wonder if any of the candidates will mention the late, great Roger Milliken, who always put American workers first, especially since the debate is taking place in South Carolina.

6:18: Fiorina is asked about the savages who raped gang-raped German women on New Year’s Eve. Many of the perpetrators were asylum seekers, and she says “we cannot allow refugees to enter this country unless we can adequately vet them, and we know we can’t; therefore, we should stop allowing refugees in this country.”

Differentiating herself from Nikki Haley, Fiorina also says we do not need to be lectured about why we are angry/frustrated because we’ve had an illegal immigration problem for the last 25 years. She says Americans also have a right to be angry at politicians who promise change and never fulfill them.

6:13: Huckabee says radical Islam is a threat to “every civilized person on this earth.” He says we need to be equipping the Kurds and never spend a drop of American blood unless there is a clearly defined goal. He speaks about rebuilding our Navy and strengthening the military to win wars.

When Huckabee is asked whether America needs to be in Afghanistan, he says only if there is a concerted effort to destroy radical Islamists who are intent on destroying America. He says the role of the U.S. military is not to build schools but to kill our enemies and make Americans safe.

6:10: Santorum is asked about Saudi Arabia/Iran relations. Santorum says the Iran Deal needs to be torn up on the first day of the new presidency. He says that Iran has already torn up the agreement and has already violated the terms of the agreement by launching ballistic missiles. He says it is “pathetic” that Obama backed down on Iran sanctions. Santorum asks the Citadel cadets to stand and says he wants to tell each one of them if you choose to serve this country, “I will have your back. I will not let America be trampled upon anymore by these radical Jihadists.”

6:08: Fiorina says America has refused to respond to Iran’s provocations and those of North Korea. She says we’ll get more provocation and bad behavior if America continues to ignore bad behavior from its adversaries.

6:02 PM EST: Candidates are asked about their assessment of the economy.

Fiorina says she is honored to be standing with two former Iowa caucus winners. Fiorina says, unlike another woman in the race, “I actually do love spending time with my husband.”

Huckabee says President Barack Obama should have stood in line at the layaway counter and with those who clean his campaign headquarters in Arkansas to find out that there are a lot of people hurting in his economy.

Santorum says Obama needs to listen to the Democratic debate to find out how bad the economy is doing. He says Democrats have been in control for the last seven years and the jobs that “fill the middle” have been lost under Obama/Democrats.

No matter how hard Fiorina tries to frame herself as the “outsider” politician who will shake up the system, voters just aren’t buying it. They get the sense that she has “establishment”/”politician” written all over her. Her ridiculous Rose Bowl Tweet rooting against her alma mater in favor of Iowa, a football team she may have never even followed, just reinforced the suspicious voters have about her.

5:59 PM EST: Huckabee, Fiorina, and Santorum take the stage. Paul is absent, and he may regret it as he would have finally had the time to articulate his libertarian-leaning views on government surveillance and foreign policy and how they differ from those of his opponents. Paul missed a chance weeks before voters start going to the polls to get some crucial soundbites.

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