Seven GOP presidential candidates will debate in New Hampshire on Saturday evening in their only debate before the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), looking to sustain his momentum after his Iowa win, will be joined by New Hampshire frontrunner Donald Trump, who will return to the stage after skipping Fox News’s Iowa debate, Dr. Ben Carson. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Carly Fiorina did not qualify for the debate though she, unlike Christie, actually won some delegates in Iowa.
Expect plenty of fireworks because the campaigns of Messrs. Kasich, Bush, and Christie are on the line on Tuesday. Bush, Christie, and Kasich have to draw contrasts among themselves while trying to peel away support from Rubio, who is gaining momentum nationally and in New Hampshire.
The non-establishment side of the bracket will not lack drama either. This week on the campaign trail, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Cruz’s Iowa win while a livid Carson demanded some heads roll in the Cruz campaign after the Cruz campaign told its supporters to erroneously tell caucus-goers that Carson was dropping out of the race.
ABC’s David Muir and Martha Raddatz will be the primary moderators. They’ll be joined by Josh McElveen of WMUR and Salem Media’s Mary Katherine Ham.
Breitbart News will be providing live updates throughout the debate, which starts at 8PM EST.
In the post-debate analysis, Karl says Christie clearly rattled Rubio with his attacks. He says Rubio expected attacks from Jeb. Even Matt Dowd says that this debate was Rubio’s “worst at a time when he needed probably his best.” He says it is tough to say who won but he thinks Rubio lost.
Kristol says he likes Rubio, but Republican primary voters want to be sure that is ready for president. He actually concedes that Rubio’s parroting of his canned lines like a robot “damaged him.” He further adds that Rubio “stumbled” tonight.
Jack Welch gets the last word:
D’s get MSNBC where moderator hugs debaters..R’s get Raddatz..angry liberal…Reince must go fast
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) February 7, 2016
This debate confirms Reince Priebus is a complete disaster .How many elections must R’s lose before this Man is removed.
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) February 7, 2016
Trump tells Cruz “that’s because you got Ben Carson’s votes, by the way.”
He then says says “our country that we love so much doesn’t win anymore. We don’t win with the military. We don’t win on the border.” He says we don’t win with healthcare, we don’t win with trade. He says if he is elected president, “we will win, we will win and we will win.”
Cruz asks when people have actually stood up to Washington. He says even though he opposed the ethanol mandates, the people of Iowa still picked him and put “country and our children” above “the cronyism and the corporate welfare.” He says he will always stand with the American people against the bipartisan corruption in Washington. A strong closing argument from Cruz re: bringing up his stance against the ethanol mandates (candidates who bypass Iowa are the ones who often take stands against ethanol in order to help them in New Hampshire)
Rubio says he has had the pleasure of having his kids join him on the campaign trail. He said it reminded him of what is at stake in this election. He says voters are deciding what the country will be like for them when they are his age. He says he will unite this party, grow the conservative movement, defeat Hillary Clinton, and leave behind the single greatest nation in the history of mankind to their kids.
Carson says that pundits have tried to bury him and have said that politics is too sleazy, complex and he can’t survive.
“I’m still here and I’m not going anyplace either,” he says. Carson says he thinks there is still a place in politics for “faith, integrity, and common sense.” He says hundreds of thousands of people drafted him to run and with the help of God and you once again place the American people at the pinnacle with the government there to serve it.
Jeb wants to thank the people of New Hampshire and celebrates Reagan’s birthday (his family’s view of the Republican party was diametrically opposed to Reagan’s, though). He said Reagan believed in the future of this country and drew people toward our cause and he says we need someone with a proven record to attract more Americans and he believes he has the skills to win in November. He vows to he will make America safer, stronger, freer
Christie says he has spent his political career serving the people who have given the opportunity to serve them. He says he is proud to have stood on the front lines fighting terrorism after 9/11. He says he has spent 70 days in New Hampshire and voters have gotten to know his heart.
Kasich says his “positive message about how we can bring people together” is resonating. And ask New Hampshire to give him a chance to carry this message forward to the United States of America.
1o: 34: Jeb claims he is the most pro-life person on stage because he has acted on it as governor of Florida when asked why his surrogates may be criticizing Rubio for being too pro-life.
Christie claims he has been pretty helpful to the pro-life cause by defunding Planned Parenthood.
10: 32: Ham asks Rubio about social issues. She says young people favor same-sex marriage but have not moved to the left on abortion. He asks Rubio how he will speak to Americans on social issues. He says he is not a “bigot” or a “hater” for believing that marriage is between one man and one woman. Rubio says the life issue is a human rights issue and it puts two competing issues against each other and he has chosen to err on the side of life.
He says what he finds outrageous is that the media have not asked Democrats about abortion. He wonders why the media have not asked Hillary Clinton about why she thinks partial-birth abortion should be a fundamental right. He says they are the extremists on abortion and he can’t wait to expose them in a general election.
10:30: Trump is asked whether he agrees with Diane Foley. He says he knows Diane Foley and has helped raise a lot money for their fund, but “you just cannot negotiate that way with terrorists or you’re going to have so many James Foleys.” Trump mentions that he raised $6 million for the vets instead of going to the last debate and nobody gets along with veterans than he does. He says he will get rid of the fraud, waste, and abuse in the VA.
10: 28: Muir asks Cruz about hostages. He brings up James Foley and whether families should be allowed to raise ransom for those who have been kidnapped like Diane Foley has urged (this question was set up with previous questions). Cruz says there is a reason America doesn’t pay ransoms/negotiate with terrorists because doing so would put a bounty on the other Americans (servicemen, tourists, etc.). He blasts the Obama administration re: Berghdal deal (“absolutely shameful” to release five senior Taliban terrorist) and the Iran Deal to bring back hostages. He says the proper approach is a Commander-in-Chief who goes after the terrorists instead of showing weakness.
10: 25: McElveen points out that nobody on the stage have served in the military. Are Democrats asked this?
He asks Bush what he would do to take care of veterans. He is for a veterans card that allows them to go to private providers. He says it is outrageous that nobody has been fired because of the VA scandal and that is why civil service reform is needed.
10: 22: Carson thoroughly speaks about reforming the VA. He says they should get healthcare plans that travel with them anywhere and he says we should never worry about a draft if we take care of our veterans.
10: 20: Bush says young women should also be allowed to sign up for a potential draft if they meet the minimum requirements for combat service. He says we need to eliminate the sequester.
Christie says there is no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against re: selective service.
10:18: Rubio says he has no problem with people of either gender serving and would be open to the selective service open to women if it is ever enacted again. Another women in the military question for Republicans. Rubio says America needs to rebuild the military.
10: 16: Raddatz brings up the zika virus and potential quarantines. Christie says he is the only one with a law enforcement background and has cannot mix radical islmic jihadists with everyday Muslim Americans. He says what law-abiding Muslims don’t need is broadsides and they need our understanding and cooperation
Carson is asked about a potential quarantine as well. He says it is not a simple issue and the virus can be active in saliva and urine. He says if we have evidence that they are infected, then it may be appropriate. Carson says we need to be thinking about how to get this disease under control re: rapid response.
10: 14: Muir brings up Rubio’s comments about Obama always pitting one group against the other and asks him if he would visit a mosque if president. Rubio says he would. He mentions that Muslims have died fighting for this country and says that what he was referring to is Obama’s playing up of hate crimes/discrimination against Muslims. He says we need better relationships with Muslims in order for them to help law enforcement officials track down radicals.
10: 10: Kasich talks about how nobody wants police officers to be brought home in a box while many in minority communities think police are working against their interests. He describes his program that bridged the two communities.
10:05: The debate shifts to police issues. Muir asks Trump about police brutality against minorities and the chill wind going through law enforcement. Trump says the police are “mistreated and misunderstood” and any mistake is all over the newscasts. He says minorities respect the police and we have to give the the police more respect. He says the police have done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order. “police can’t act” because they are afraid of losing their pensions, etc. Trump says everybody sues today and though there need to be some reforms, the police are doing an unbelievable job protecting citizens.
9:50: Cruz is asked what he would say to law enforcement officials who are concerned about addiction problems. Cruz speaks movingly about his sister, who was addicted to drugs and died from an overdose, and how he put $20,000 on a credit card to put his nephew through military school. He takes the opportunity to promise to secure the border and “end the deluge of drugs” flowing across the border.
Christie says he would be willing to engage in cross-border enforcement even without the enforcement of the Mexican government. Christie also says that in New Jersey, first-time, non-violent drug offenders do not go to prison in New Jersey and instead go to rehabilitation facilities. He says addiction is a “disease” and not a “moral failing.” He says he is pro-life not just for the nine months in the womb but “for when they get out and it’s a lot more complicated.”
9:46: Ham asks Trump what he would say to conservatives who are worried Trump will perpetuate everything that people hate now about Washington deal-making. He says “a good deal-maker will make good deals” and will do it the way our Founders would have wanted. He cites Reagan/O’Neill. He says you have to find a way to get a consensus. He says a good dealmaker would never make a deal like the Iran Deal. Trump says yo have to get people to agree with what you want and you can’t leave the White House to go to Hawaii and be effective.
Trump says “you have to get people in, grab ’em, hug ’em, kiss ’em, and get the deal done, but “it’s gotta be the deal that you want.”
9:43: Ham asks Cruz about executive orders. She points out that Cruz has promised to end Common Core, abolish the IRS, and end sanctuary cities. She asks Cruz how he would implement “this aggressive agenda within your Constitutional authority” because he would have to work with Washington players that he has a “strained relationship” with. Cruz says there are three avenues of presidential authority–executive power, foreign policy, legislation. Cruz says the silver lining to Obama’s executive actions is that everything that Obama has accomplished with executive actions can be undone with executive actions. He says he will strike down Obama’s executive actions on amnesty/gun control with the strike of a pen. On foreign policy, Cruz says it can change the fastest and it is worth remembering that Iran released its hostages right after Reagan got elected. Cruz says he is pushing to repeal Obamacare and adopt a flat tax through legislation.
9:40: Muir asks Rubio where he stands on waterboarding/torture. Rubio says people are treating to deal with terrorism like a law-enforcement issue. Rubio says we should not be discussing our tactics because it allows terrorists to practice how to evade us but the bigger problem is we are not interrogating anyone right now and “we shouldn’t be releasing these killers who are joining the battlefield against the United States.”
He doesn’t answer the question. Incredible amount of time spent on waterboarding trying to make Republicans look bad.
9:38: Trump says in the Middle East, we have people chopping the heads off of Christians and he says he would bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”
Jeb says what we need to do is expand our intelligence capabilities and we won’t solve the terrorism problem by just killing people with drones. He says that is why closing Guantanamo would be a disaster.
9:36: Muir asks Cruz whether waterboarding is torture. He says it is not under the definition of torture. He says it is “enhanced interrogation” and does not meet the definition of torture. He says he would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use. He says he joined with Sen. McCain to prevent line officers from employing it. He says when it comes to keeping this country safe to prevent a city from facing an imminent terrorist attack, he would use whatever enhanced interrogation techniques are available to keep America safe.
9:33: On Libya, Bush says he would support renewed airstrikes and operations on the ground in consultation with our Arab allies. He says Obama’s “leading from behind” is not effective policy and is why Libya is such a mess. Bush says America has to deal with the caliphate by helping the Sunnis build an army and dealing with Libya. He says the Obama administration’s incrementalism is not working.
Carson says he is not here adding “beauty to the stage” and wants to talk about Libya, which he has been doing for some time. He says ISIS will next expand to Libya and we need to think about how to prevent ISIS from expanding into Southern Europe and African countries like Chad. He says he would support renewed air strikes if the military experts think it is the right thing to do.
9:31: Trump points out that we need to bomb their oil and take their source of income. Trump says can you imagine Generals Patton/MacArthur saying we can’t bomb the oil to not pollute the environment. Trump says he has knowledge the banking system and would know how to use his financial acumen to cut off their banking channels. He says if you take their oil, ISIS will become a very weakened power quickly.
9:29: When Raddatz asks why Rubio will not commit more ground troops if he believes ISIS is the most dangerous group in history. He says that because they currently occupy Sunni cities/villages and if they are held by Shias, it will create more sectarian violence. He says it will take Sunni fighters to take the villages and then hold them, and that is why this situation is different. He says ISIS is a successor group to Al-Qaeda and if the Sunnis can’t govern themselves, there will be a successor group to ISIS. He says the Sunni forces in the region doesn’t trust the Obama administration because it cut a deal with their “mortal enemy” Iraq.
9:25: Raddatz asks Cruz about his “carpet bombing” remarks and asks him to explain how a strategy to defeat a standing army will defeat terrorists who often hide among civilians. He says a president must first set the objective of defeating ISIS/Islamic terrorism. He says the first tool is overwhelming air power. Cruz says it is “immoral” to send American troops into battle with their arms tied behind their backs and “we should use overwhelming force, kill the enemy, and get the heck out” and don’t engage in nation-building and allow our soldiers to do the job. He is for loosening the rules of engagement.
9:23: Christie to the 68%-“you’re wrong.” He says that after New Jersey raised taxes on millionaires before he was governor, $70 billion in wealth left New Jersey in four years to where it was going to be treated more kindly. “Let New Jersey be the canary in the coal mine,” he says, pointing out that the same thing will happen in America with more tax increases.
9:21: Rubio, when asked if 68% of Americans who favor raising taxes on millionaires are wrong, says, “I don’t know of any problem in America that is going to be fixed by a tax increase.” He says America has one of the most expensive business tax rates in the world in addition to having a worldwide system of taxation. He says that combination has stranded over $2 trillion in corporate money overseas and the solution is to lower taxes on people and companies so that “we can make America globally competitive again.”
Bush says he’d like to see more millionaires.
Muir keeps emphasizing that 68% agree that millionaires should be taxed. The mainstream media will never repeat polls that find Americans opposed to gun control, for instance. But they love repeating any poll that supports more taxes.
9:19: Muir challenges Christie about whether Kasich’s record on jobs is stronger than Christie’s. He says Kasich has been great on jobs in Ohio. But he says Kasich is using “old statistics” and New Jersey has cut spending and fewer employees while Kasich has a bigger government and more employees in Ohio. He asks veterans who are waiting for health care whether Obama knows what he is doing in running the government. Christie again blasts Rubio for not taking responsibility on his “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill and he says he likes Kasich’s record. Karl was right when he said that Rubio seemed “rattled.” He keeps reverting back to canned talking points and seems uncomfortable when Christie challenges him/calls him out for being canned.
Rubio again insists that Obama knows exactly what he is doing re: gutting our military and undermining our Second Amendment. He says Sanders/Clinton will double down on what Obama is doing.
9:18: Muir points out that Christie asks supporters to ask “how” if they go to Trump’s town halls. Trump says he will bring jobs back from China, Japan, and Mexico. He says New Hampshire has been “wiped out” and so many jobs have gone to Mexico because of horrible trade deals. He says TPP is “going to be a disaster” for America. He says we are the highest taxed country in the world and his tax plan cuts taxes for the middle class and corporations while bringing back trillions of dollars that corproations have offshore. He says his tax structure will keep businesses in the country.
9:16: Rubio says being a conservative is about limited government, free enterprise, and a strong national defense.
He was asked whether Trump’s answer convinced him whether Trump was a conservative and again Rubio did not answer the question.
9:14: Trump says he is a conservative. He says conservative is a derivative of “conserve” and he says we want to conserve our wealth… (be smart about how we spend)… we want to conserve our country, we want save our country.” He says we have people who have no idea how to do that and they’re not doing it. He says it is a very important word and something he take seriously.
9:00: Muir turns to eminent domain. McElveen mentions that Trump has said he loves eminent domain. Trump says eminent domain is an “absolute necessity” for our country because you wouldn’t have roads, bridges, hospitals and even the Keystone Pipeline. Trump says it eminent domain is a “good thing” and “not a bad thing” and people “get a fortune” when government takes their land. He says he doesn’t love it but it is a “necessity for our country.”
Bush says the difference between eminent domain for public purpose and what Trump did was try to take the property of an elderly woman on the Atlantic strip. Trump says Jeb is trying to be a tough guy. Jeb accuses Trump of wanting to turn the land into a limousine parking lot and says that is “not for public use.”
“How tough is it to take property away from an elderly woman?” Bush asks.
Trump says Bush’s donors/special interests are booing out there. Donors/special interest and the people who are putting up the money are getting the tickets. He says the “reason they are not loving me” is because “I don’t want their money” and “I’m the only one up here who can say that.”
Trump and Bush go back and forth about whether the Keystone pipeline is public/private use. “Excuse me, judge,” Trump says when Muir interjects.
8:57: Ham asks Trump about Obamacare. She points out Trump has said that everybody has to be covered and asks whether he is closer to Sanders on the issue. Trump says he is closer to “common sense” and we will repeal and replace Obamacare. He points out that he is not being funded by the special interest and his free-enterprise healthcare plan will allow people to compete. He talks up health-savings accounts. Trump says as a Republican, we will take care of people who are dying on the street. And he says that everybody will agree that you are not going to let people die sitting in the middle of the street in any city in this country.
Ham asks Cruz how he would reassure people whose insurance plans may get changed while replacing Obamacare. Cruz goes off on socialized medicine/rationing and says the elderly will suffer the most. He says America is facing a doctor shortage and socialized medicine will make matters worse. Cruz says he will repeal every word of Obamacare. He will expand health saving accounts and let people buy insurance across state lines.
Carson, when asked about healthcare, says he was hoping to talk about North Korea. He says you have to replace Obamacare with something that makes sense. He says Obamacare tells the people that government doesn’t care about them. Carson says he has proposed a health empowerment account system that Americans would get when they are born until they die. He says each family will become their own insurance company without a middle man and it will lower the cost of catastrophic costs. Carson says he has another system to take care of the indigent.
8:55: Muir asks Rubio about his “Gang of Eight” bill and asks if he fought for his legislation or did he run from it.
Rubio says we cannot get that legislation passed because Americans will not support any type of amnesty legislation until the border is secured because people have “zero trust” in the federal government to enforce the laws. He says the “key that unlocks the door” to comprehensive amnesty legislation is actually enforce the law and hire border agents and finish fencing/walls while putting in place entry/exit tracking system. He says Americans will support a “reasonable” and “responsible” approach to legalizing illegal immigrants.
Muir, after Rubio doesn’t answer the question, asks whether he ran from the bill. He said though it passed in the Senate, it did not pass the House and doesn’t have the support and it will never pass in the United States until we secure the border. He says he will enforce the laws first when president and see what Americans are willing to support re: illegal immigration.
Christie says the difference between being a governor/Senator is answering question. He says it is “abundantly clear” Rubio didn’t fight for the amnesty bill. Christie says leadership is not about running. Rubio says it is ultimately about “solving the problem” and says a “comprehensive bill” has no chance of passage and it is not leadership to keep trying to pass a bill that can’t get passed.
8:51: Cruz says he is going to build the wall and he has someone in mind to build it. He wants to put in place a strong E-verify system, more biometric exit/entry systems on visas, end sanctuary cities by cutting off taxpayer dollars to any jurisdiction that defies federal laws, and end welfare to anyone here illegally.
Cruz, when asked about sending back illegal immigrants, says “you enforce the law.” Cruz says that federal law states that if someone is here illegally and they are apprehended, they are to be deported. Cruz points out that the head of the Border Patrol Union testified before Congress that the Obama administration a gave the stand-down order not to enforce immigration laws.
“That is wrong,” he says. “I will enforce the law.” He says for everyone who says “you can’t possibly do that,” Bill Clinton deported 12 million in eight years while George W. Bush deported 10 million in eight years. He says enforcing the law will solve the problem and that will benefit American worker.s
8:48: Kasich: Comprehensive Amnesty Legislation in First 100 Days
The debate shifts to immigration. Muir asks Kasich about his comments that the GOP is not about depression. He asks if Kasich is not where the voters are because anti-amensty candidates like Trump and Cruz are topping the polls. Kasich says the country ought to be able to lock its doors and finish the border. He says we should have a guest-worker plan. He says illegal immigrants who are here should pay back taxes, fines, and get legalization but not citizenship. He says he cannot imagine taking parents from their kids and that is not the type of values we believe in. He says Americans would support that type of amnesty legislation and promises comprehensive amnesty legislation in his first 100 days in office.
8:45:When asked about the American college student that North Korea is holding hostage, Bush says Iran’s shameful treatment of our sailors sends signals of weakness around the world. And he says that America should use all resources to get the student back.
Christie says “you never pay ransom to the criminals” and everybody watching at home understands that. He says they only understand “toughness and strength” and they need to know that America will not pay ransom for hostages and says Obama is for paying ransom. Christie says this is a reason why Obama is “so weak” and why Clinton would be even weaker.
8:37: Raddatz says Cruz’s opponents say he is not ready to be Commander-in-Chief. She asks Cruz about North Korea’s test launch of an ICBM missile that may one day carry a nuclear weapon. She asks how Cruz would respond to that launch. Cruz says a nuclear North Korea is the direct result of the failed policies of the Clinton administration. Cruz says the lead negotiator with the North Koreans, Wendy Sherman, was brought to negotiate with Iran.
“What we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing where it will be with Iran.”
Cruz says we should expand our missile defense capabilities in South Korea. He worries that North Korea can launch an EMP attack that could “take down the entire electrical grid” and potentially kill millions. Raddatz asks if he would order Cruz to destroy the missile preemptively.
He says he is not going to speculate about that without the intelligence briefings. Raddatz tries to say that Cruz has talked tough on the Middle East without intelligence briefings and Cruz points out that he has gotten intelligence briefings on the Middle East but he has not gotten intelligence reports on what just happened because he is in New Hampshire.
Not so fast, Raddatz. Cruz again shows how effective he is in taking on the mainstream media and the various tricks they use to try to trip up GOP candidates.
Kasich says says “we have to step up the pressure” and then says we have to intercept their ships and aircraft because they are trying to proliferate the material and the technologies that can be used of mass destruction. He says he worries about non-state actors and are not subjected to the mutual-assured defense. He says some of these radicals do not care about that and we should also tell the Chinese about the need for missile defense systems in Japan/South Korea and impose the same types of sanctions on North Korea as on Iran. Kasich says America should tell the Japanese that “if you want to take action” on the missile, “you will have our support if that’s what you think is the best thing to do.”
Bush says Obama comes up with marketing terms but they create voids that are filled. He says we should engage in preemptive strikes if it is the right thing to do.
Trump disagrees with Rubio about Obama knowing what he is doing. Trump says Obama is “incompetent” and has no idea what he is doing as our “country is going to hell.” Trump says the Chinese are sucking trillions from our country to rebuild their country and he says China can solve the North Korea problem “quickly and surgically.”
Rubio says Obama views America as an “arrogant global power” that needs to be cut down to side. Rubio says , for instance, that Obama has betrayed Israel because it may help America’s relations with the other Middle Eastern countries.
8:35: Jeb, when asked about his past praise of Rubio, says let’s move forward to 2016. He cites a bunch of his endorsement and says he cut taxes and reduced government and took on special interests and forged consensus. Bush says you learn leadership by doing it and mentions all of the hurricanes/tropical storms that he had to deal with while he was governor. Bush says the next president has to “forge consensus” unlike Obama.
8:31: Christie, who has called Rubio the “boy in the bubble,” says Senators wake up thinking about what type of speech or what kind of bill to drop to give while he thinks about what issues/problems to solve. “You have not been involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable,” he says. “You just simply haven’t.”
Christie points out that Rubio was not even in the Senate to the “unanimous” vote for the sanctioning Hezbollah.
Christie says Rubio simply does not have the experience to be president. He says the “people of New Hampshire are smart. Do not make the same mistake again” like they did with Obama.
Rubio says New Jersey’s credit rating has been downgraded nine times under Christie. And he then shifts again to his talking point about how America will be the single greatest nation in the history of the world when he is president.
Christie says “that’s what Washington, D.C. does… the drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and the memorized 20-second speech… Marco, the thing is this… the memorized 30-second speech… does not solve one problem.” Christie says he has rebuilt New Jersey after natural disasters but being a Senator does not prepare someone for being president. Rubio says New Jersey got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago and he had to be shamed into going back.
Rubio then again for the billionth time says Obama knows what he is doing and Christie calls him out on his canned talking points–“There it is!”
Christie says the shame is criticizing someone for going back to work when Rubio has not solved any problems.
8:30: Muir asks Rubio about his readiness to be president. He points out that Rick Santorum could not even name one of his accomplishments after he endorsed him. Rubio says he protected Floridians from eminent domain abuse and has sanctioned terrorist groups. He then says if politics is about electing people who have been in Congress the longest, we should rally behind Joe Biden. A thin answer and back to talking points against Barack Obama. He blasts Obama’s “systematic effort” to change America and says he ensure Americans leave their children with the single greatest nation in the history of the world.
8:27: Muir asks why Cruz did not call Carson ahead of time before his campaign sent out those messages. Cruz says Carson is a “good and honorable man.” He says he apologized to Carson and apologizes now. He goes on to explain his campaign saw CNN anchors/pundits talk about how Carson’s travel plans were highly unusual and insists his campaign team was unaware of Carson’s statement that he was not dropping out of the race. Carson says the timeline indicates that the initial Tweet from CNN was followed by another one within a minute that clarified that he was not dropping out. Carson says “we can see what happened… and you can make your own judgment.”
8:25: Muir asks Carson about the Cruz campaign’s shenanigans in Iowa. ABC does not mention that Breitbart News first reported on the Cruz voicemails from Iowa. Carson says when he wasn’t introduced second as scheduled he thought maybe he already dropped out. He says today Reagan’s 105th birthday and says he will follow Reagan’s 11th commandment and not savage the reputation of Cruz. Carson says he is disappointed that members of his team thought so little of him (he points out that one of his supporters in Iowa even died while going to a campaign event and so many were dedicated to him) to think that he would quit ten minutes before the caucus and say “forget about you guys.” “Who would do something like that?” Carson says. He says “it gives us a very good example of certain types of Washington ethics,” which Carson says is “if it’s legal, you do what you need to do in order to win. That’s not my ethics. My ethics is you do what’s right.”
8:24: Trump says that Cruz never answered Muir’s question. Trump says “we’re gonna win with Trump” and “people back down with Trump.” He says that’s what the country is going to like.
8:22: Cruz says voters are looking to their knowledge, temperament and looking to see who has the clarity and resolve. He blasts Obama for not using the words “radical Islamic terrorism” much less focusing on defeating the enemy. He says primary voters are assessing who is best qualified to keep the country safe. Muir presses Cruz on his comments about Trump not having the temperament to be president. He says that is an assessment for the voters.
8:19: Muir asks Trump whether he has the temperament to be president. He says he has built a massive corporation and employs thousands. Trump says he hit immigration “very hard” when he announced his campaign and now everybody is coming to him. He says he talked about Muslims and “we have a problem.” He says “we have to have a temporary something” because there are problems. He says he is not the one with the trigger because he is the only one on stage who opposed the Iraq War. But he says “nobody is going to mess with us” when he is president as he builds up the military.
8:15: Stephanopoulos tosses to Raddatz and Muir, and the debate begins. The candidates take the stage, but there seems to be some confusion as Carson was not sure if he was called. The moderators are a mess. Raddatz says “here are the Republican candidates” when three candidates were missing. Then Muir “finally” welcomes Trump as the last candidate to be introduced…except there’s an empty podium. They forgot to introduce Kasich and he finally comes on stage. Raddatz blames the “loud cheers” coming from the crowd for making it difficult for everybody to hear. Bizarre introductions to say the least.
Rubio already goes for the water (and everyone thinks back to his State of the Union response).
8:09: Kristol speaks in the next segment and points out that Trump was riding so high before not showing up to the Iowa debate and has now decided to show up in New Hampshire. Democrat Donna Brazile replaces Cokie Roberts on the panel to talk up Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Will a conservative ever be on one of these panels? Dowd thinks there are four tickets out of New Hampshire and does his best to build up Kasich. Dowd thinks Kasich could finish as high as third with a strong debate performance and get a ticket out of New Hampshire.
8:01: Former Clinton communications director George Stephanopoulos will not be the moderator, but he’s hosting the pre-game segment before the debate. Establishment Republican pundit Matt Dowd says Trump has the most to lose. Reporter Jon Karl says this is Marco Rubio’s moment. Anti-Trump pundit Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard, is also on the pre-game panel. But he just lets the others talk.