GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dr. Ben Carson, Ohio Governor John Kasich, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will debate in South Carolina on Saturday evening just hours after the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
When Democrats debated on Thursday, one of their moderators—PBS’s Judy Woodruff—was a Clinton Foundation donor who conveniently did not ask Hillary Clinton about her email scandal just hours after news about the Clinton Foundation subpoenas dominated the news cycle.
Republicans will not be as lucky. CBS’s John Dickerson, who urged President Barack Obama to “pulverize” Republicans, will moderate tonight’s debate.
Stay tuned to Breitbart News for live updates.
The establishment class seemed like they were desperately trying to create a “moment” like the one that benefited Newt Gingrich during CNN’s South Carolina debate before the 2012 South Carolina primary to help Rubio. But the audience reaction after Gingrich blasted moderator John King after he asked him about his ex-wife was organic. The cheers today after mundane Rubio responses came off as inorganic and made the audience looked like they were trying a bit too hard to help “their” candidate. Don’t think viewers will be swayed like they were in 2012.
Mission accomplished for the mainstream media. Why are these people moderating GOP debates?
I will pick some winners and losers for this debate. But I think this was a very bad debate for the GOP writ large.
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) February 14, 2016
A very discordant debate that was all over the place.
Trump: He says politicians are “all talk and no action.” He says we are $19 trillion in debt. “We need a change. We need a very big change. We’re going to make our country great again.” Trump says we don’t win anymore… with healthcare, ISIS, the military… we don’t care of our vets… we don’t take care of our borders.” Trump says “we’re going to start winning again” and “we’re not going to be controlled by people that are special interests and lobbyists.” Trump says “I’m working for you. I’m not working for anybody else.”
Cruz: Cruz says South Carolina has a critical choice to make because out country literally hangs in the balance. He asks them if they want another Washington dealmaker or a proven conservative “who will stand and fight with you each and every day.” He says repealing Obamacare, passing a simple flat tax, and abolishing the IRS will not be easy. But he says “if we stand with the American people, we can do it.” Cruz says two branches of government hang in the balance and if we nominate the wrong candidate… the Second Amendment, life, marriage, religious liberty… hang in the balance. He says he doesn’t want to look his daughters in the eye sand say we lost their liberties. He asks voters who they know will defend the Bill of Rights and Constitution and will stand up to our enemies and defeat them and secure our borders to keep America safe.
Rubio: He says this is a difficult time in our country where people are living paycheck to paycheck. He blasts a culture where wrong is considered right and right is considered wrong. He says all the things that once held our families together are under assault and America is not respected around the world. He says 2016 can be a turning point and that is why he is running for president. He says he will embrace free enterprise, will be a a country that says life begins at conception, be a country where marriage is between one man and one woman, and where our rights come from our Creator. He says he will unify this party and grow it and make the 21st century a new American century.
Jeb: He says the next president will be confronted with an unforeseen challenge like a pandemic or an attack. He says the question is who do you want sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. He says he would govern with a steady hand and unite the country because he did it in Florida after eight hurricanes. He says he has a servant’s heart and a backbone and will keep Americans safe and secure.
Carson: He says this is the first generation not expected to do better than their parents. Carson says some call this the “new normal” but there is nothing normal about it. He says Stalin said to bring America down, you have undermine our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality. He says “we the people can stop that decline starting right here in South Carolina.” Carson says he can not only win but “turn this thing around.” And he blasts the media class for manipulating people into thinking certain candidates can’t win, etc. He says he will be accountable to everybody and beholden to no one.
Kasisch: He will send power, money, influence back to where we all live. He says people are not waiting on a president and the Lord wants us to be connected. He says we are part of a very big mosaic and the spirit of America rests in all of us, in taking care of the children, the lady next door who lost her husband, fixing schools, and telling kids to stay off drugs. He wants Americans to realize that they were made special to heal this country and lift it for everyone.
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) February 14, 2016
10:43: Dickerson asks Rubio what he would ask a previous president about the job. Rubio praises Reagan. Says what Reagan inherited is not unlike what Reagan inherited. He says the question he would ask is how did he inspire again the American people to believe in the future and what did it take to ensure that the American people, despite all of the difficulties of the time, had a sense of optimism…
[John Dickerson throwing batting practice to Rubio here]
10:42: Trump says he never went bankrupt and he used the laws of the land to benefit his companies just like the biggest leaders of the company. He says Jeb put so much debt on Florida and increased spending that as soon as Jeb got out of office, Florida crashed. He accuses Jeb of loading Florida up with debt while spending went through the roof.
Jeb says Florida led the nation in job growth 7 of his 8 years and Florida didn’t go bankrupt and call it a success like Trump did after some of his businesses went through bankruptcies.
10:40: Dickerson asks Jeb about his comments re: his father/Reagan having a hard time in today’s GOP. He says the dysfunction in Washington is terrible and we need a president who doesn’t disparage people and brag about using the legal system during bankruptcies. He says a president needs to forge consensus and adds that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck and he is the person with the proven record to turn the economy around.
10:38: Trump is asked about an instance where someone told him he was wrong and he listened to them. He says his wife tells him he is wrong all the time and he listens to her. Trump says he has hired a lot of great advisers for his company. He mentions that he is self-funding his campaign while people like Jeb have spent millions of their money (points to the special interests in the audience). Trump says sometimes the experts, even those he hires, are also wrong.
Dickerson asks Trump about profanity. Trump says he uses profanity to highlight certain issues. Trump says he was a great student and “not using profanity is very easy.” He says he won’t do it again.
10:37: Kasich is asked about his comments about how he should be running in the Democratic primary. He is asked how that would win him a GOP nomination. Kasich talks about his having supported policies that grew the economy twice and he can do it again. He talks about blue-collar Democrats like his father who think he is a uniter and has the experience and can give people hope. He says blue-collar Democrats “will vote for us come next fall.”
10:33: Carson says so many people have said to him that he needs to scream and jump up and down like everybody else. Carson says that is not what Americans need. He says when he looked under the hood of Washington, his first inclination was to run away and Carson says “we cannot afford to lose this election” and tear each other down after Scalia’s death.
Dickerson asks Carson about political correctness. He wants Carson to tell voters something that is not politically incorrect. He says people need to know that free college is a non-starter, especially because we are on the verge of economic collapse.
10:31: The moderators let Rubio talk about whatever he wants.. and he talks about poverty. He says anti-poverty programs have become a lifestyle and he says “poverty is free enterprise not reaching people.” Rubio says there need to be more state programs to cure poverty because Haley would do better combating poverty than Obama.
Dickerson asks Rubio why he didn’t list “immigration reform” as one of his accomplishments in the Senate. Rubio says he couldn’t have mentioned it because it didn’t pass. What a dumb question.
[Dickerson is just a mess as a moderator. Overrated and doesn’t understand the concerns of the conservative primary electorate. Seems like a clueless school headmaster who takes himself way too seriously[.
10:23: Dickerson says president have to be firm and flexible. He says Trump has changed his mind on abortion/Hilary Clinton. He asks why Trump is like Reagan for changing his mind while Cruz isn’t for changing his mind on immigration. Trump says Reagan was a somewhat liberal Democrat and became a great conservative president. Trump says he feels that he is a conservative. He says he is a commonsense conservative and says he disagrees with conservatives on eminent domain, which Trump says is something that we need very strongly. Bizarre answer here by someone who seems to lack a team that understands debate strategy.
Jeb says he would disagree with his brother re: eminent domain. And he says eminent domain should not be used to benefit high-rollers. [Bush’s eminent domain exchange with Trump in New Hampshire was one of his stronger moments and is one of the reasons why he surged at the end]
Cruz says Trump is an “amazing entertainer” and Trump’s policies have been mostly liberal. He says Trump has been for partial-birth abortion.
Trump says Cruz is one of the single biggest liars for saying Trump supports the federal funding of Planned Parenthood. Trump blasts Cruz for willing to say anything to get elected. He calls Cruz a “nasty” guy and blasts his campaign’s push polls.
Trump and Cruz get into a testy exchange re: Planned Parenthood. Trump says Planned Parenthood “does to wonderful things… having to do with women’s health” but “not when it comes to abortion.”
Cruz says the reason principle matters is because if Trump is president, he will appoint liberals to the Supreme Court. Trump points out that George W. Bush and Cruz both supported John Roberts, who upheld the constitutionality of Obamacare.
Jeb! says Reagan was a conservative governor who didn’t tear down people and instead tore down the Berlin wall. Good answer by Jeb! about how Reagan was a conservative California governor.
Cruz says he supported Roberts but he would have nominated J. Michael Luttig. Cruz says since Trump donated to people like Reid and Kerry, he would nominate liberals.
10:19: Garrett asks Trump about where he would derive his power to tax companies that go overseas. Trump says he would build consensus but “consensus means you have to work hard, cajole… you have to make deals.” Trump says that Carrier is moving to Mexico and he would go right now to Carrier and say they will make air conditioners in Mexico but they will get taxed. Trump says that would make Carrier stay in the United States and build air conditioners and he says trade pacts today are no good for the America and the American people.
10:17: Dickerson asks Cruz how he has been a warrior for the poor. Cruz says the people who have been hurt the most in the Obama economy have been the most vulnerable like African-Americans, single moms, etc. Cruz says we need to bring back “booming economic growth” by supporting small businesses. He speaks about his father’s story and he says he thinks about how all of these issues would have impacted his dad when he was washing dishes. Cruz says had Obamacare been around then, his dad would have been laid off or had his hours reduced.
10:15: Carson is asked about whether Wall Street executives should be held responsible for crashes. Carson says regulatory agencies should be trimmed instead of targeting people who are trying to increase the economic viability of our society. Carson says when you consider how much regulations cost American each year, if you want to get rid of poverty, get rid of all the regulations.
10:14: Kasich: Legalization for Illegals in First 100 Days.
Kasich says Republicans are going to lose the election to Hillary with all the infighting. He says all the negative ads should be taken down. Kasich says he is for closing the border and for guest-worker programs. He says if illegal immigrants have not committed crimes, they should get a path to legalization–never citizenship–after paying back taxes, etc. He says he would send his immigration plan to Congress in his first 100 days.
10:12: Trump says that when he announced that he was running for president, illegal immigration wasn’t even a subject. Trump says that the weakest person on this stage on illegal immigration is Jeb Bush. “He is so weak on illegal immigration that it’s laughable, and everybody knows it,” Trump says.
Bush says it is “weak” to disparage/denigrate women, Hispanics and the disabled. He blasts Trump for his comments re: McCain. Trump calls Bush out for his comments in New Hampshire about how he could moon the audience and the press wouldn’t notice.
10:10: Garrett asks Jeb about his “act of love” comments. Jeb says he needs to channel his inner Chris Christie and blast Rubio/Cruz for arguing about the inner details of a bill that did not pass. Bush says a great majority of people come to this country because “they have no other choice.” Bush says they are not all rapists and we should “show a little more respect” for the fact that they are struggling.
10:05: Ted Cruz Calls Out Donor Class in Audience for Booing Him When He Refers to the Gang of Eight’s Amnesty Plan as the “Rubio-Schumer Amnesty’ Plan.
Strassel, from the pro-open borders Wall Street Journal, asks Cruz about his promise to deport illegal immigrants and reverse Obama’s executive amnesty. He says Cruz would have the names of those who registered for Obama’s executive amnesty and she asks if he would use that list to deport illegal immigrants.
He says there are “sharp differences” on stage re: amnesty. He says voters have been burned by candidates who have given campaign speeches against amnesty. He points out that he stood with Jeff Sessions and Steve King against the Gang of Eight’s amnesty plan. He says Reagan would call that a “time for choosing.” When Cruz refers to the Gang of Eight’s amnesty plan as the “Rubio-Schumer amnesty plan,” the crowd boos. Cruz points out that the donor class that supports Rubio hates it and that is why they booed.
The crowd cheers Rubio when he says Cruz is now a passionate opponent of amnesty when he supported an increase in green cards, etc. Rubio says Cruz is not a “purist” on amnesty.
Cruz says the lines are clear. He says Rubio supports citizenship for all of the illegal immigrants and he opposes it. The pro-Rubio donors in the crowd boo Cruz when he calls Rubio out for going on Univision and saying in Spanish that he would not repeal Obama’s executive amnesty. Rubio quips that he doesn’t know how Cruz could have understood what he said on Univision since Cruz doesn’t speak Spanish. Cruz points out that Sessions has said that without Cruz, the Rubio-Schumer amnesty bill would have passed.
10:02: Rubio, the Face of the Gang of Eight’s Comprehensive Amnesty Bill, Claims he has ‘Never’ Supported Amnesty.
Rubio is asked to defined amnesty. He says it is the “”forgiveness of a wrongdoing without consequence.” “I’ve never supported that. I do not support that,” he says. “I think there has to be consequences for violating our immigration laws.”
He goes into his talking points about not being able to get a comprehensive amnesty legislation passed until the American people are assured that illegal immigration is under control once and for all. Again, the crowd seems to be stacked with pro-Rubio lobbyists who are cheering everything he says.
10:00: Dickerson asks Trump what a “human solution to those who live in the shadows” means. Trump says we “have no border, we have no control” and we have to take care of “our people.” Trump says he will build a wall and it will be paid for by Mexico. He says “we’re not being treated properly” and “we don’t have a country” without borders. “We have to take care of our people,” he says.
9:55: Carson says his tax plan has been praised by Cato, WSJ, Forbes as the most pro-growth tax plan. He says it is based on “real fairness for everybody.” He says even people below the 150% poverty level have to pay something because everybody has to have some skin in the game. He says his main goal is to get rid of Obamacare and put the care back in patients.
9:53: Bush is asked about his plans to raise taxes on hedge fund managers. Bush says it is not appropriate for hedge fund managers to pay capital gains treatment. He says we need to reform the tax code to simplify the rates and shift power away from D.C. He says Florida led the nation in job growth 7 of his 8 years as governor because of his tax cuts.
9:51: Bush admires that Kasich is spending more money on drug/mental health programs but he points out that Kasich is expanding Obamacare. He says we should be fighting and repealing Obamacare. Bush says he made the case against expanding Obamacare as a private citizen. Kasich says that when Bush was governor, his Medicaid program grew twice as fast as his in his first four years. Kasich says that Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid five times. Bush says South Carolinians need to know that Kasich is ranked at the bottom and Nikki Haley is at the top in the Cato Institute’s ratings of governors re: fiscal conservatism. Kasich says the people of South Carolina and America want to see unity and he is going to stay positive about what he wants to do.
9:50: Strassel ask Kasich about his Medicaid programs and he says when he expanded Medicaid and treated the mentally ill, they didn’t live under a bridge. He says his state saved money by treating drug-addicted citizens to end the revolving door.. He says he cut taxes by more than any governor in America. Ohio’s credit/pension are strong and Kasich says his state is leaving no one behind.
9:48: Strassel asks Rubio about his tax plan. Rubio claims his tax plan is not trying to use the tax code to influence social policy. He says his tax plan creates a child tax credit for working families so parents can keep more of their money. Audience stacked with pro-Rubio allies cheer wildly again. He says the family is the “most important institution in society” and you cannot have a strong country without strong families.
9:45: Cruz is asked the value added tax. Cruz says that the middle class has been left behind in the Obama economy and we’ve got to bring jobs back, get people back to work, get wages up again, and get people to move from part-time work to full-time work. He says this is not going to be solved by magic pixie dust and we have to understand the principles that made America great. Cruz describes his “flat an fair” tax plan that will abolish the IRS because Americans will be able to fill out their taxes on a postcard.
Garrett pushes Cruz on the VAT and he says his business flat tax is not a European-style VAT that is a sales tax. He says one of the things that is critical is that his plan abolishes the IRS, corporate income tax, payroll tax, and the death tax.
9:43: Strassel asks Trump about his comments about not wanting to touch entitlements. She asks him if he is proposing more than he can deliver. Trump says he wants to save Social Security and bring jobs back from China, Mexico, Japan. Trump says he is lowering taxes and talks bout how China bought the Chicago Stock Exchange this week. He blasts Nabisco, Ford for moving to Mexico. He says “we have to make our economy grow again… this country is dying and our workers are losing their jobs.” He says he is the only one who will save Social Security. Trump says there is tremendous “waste, fraud, and abuse” and he’ll take care of it. He says there are thousands of people who don’t exist who are “over 106″… and says people paid into Social Security and he is not going to cut their benefits.
9:40: Dickerson asks Carson whether a nice person can be tough on terror. He asks Carson about civilian casualties in the war on terror. Carson says he was not in favor of America going to war in Iraq because he has studied the Middle East and those are nations that are ruled by dictators and when you remove one of the dictators, you are going to have chaos without an appropriate plan. Carson blasts the Obama administration for its “asinine thinking” for not wanting to bomb tankers because there may be some environmental damage or people in them.
9:39: Rubio says he thanks God that it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore. Trump wants to know how Bush kept us safe when the World Trade Centers came down while Bush was president. More boos from the crowd. Rubio says the Trade Centers came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had a chance to do so and the pro-Rubio/Bush crowd goes wild.
9:38: Kasich says “this is nuts.” Kasich says we got involved in a civil war and points out Iraq’s borders were drawn by westerners after WWI who had no clue what was going on. He says America should not get involved in civil wars. He says America should not be the world’s police.
9:37: Jeb says he is sick and tired of Barack Obama for blaming his brother for all of the country’s problem. Jeb says he is sick and tired of Trump going after his family. He says his dad is the greatest person alive and his brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe while Trump was building a reality tv empire. Trump points out that the Trade Centers fell while Bush was in the White House.
9:34: Dickerson asks Trump about George W. Bush, who will campaign for Jeb! on Monday. Dickerson asks Trump whether he think Bush should have been impeached for going to war in Iraq. Trump says because he is self-funding his campaign, he doesn’t have lobbyist allies in the audience. He says it was his responsibility to his businesses to get along with everybody.
He says the Iraq war is a “big, fat mistake.” He says it took Jeb! five days at the start of the campaign to say his brother’s war was a mistake. Trump said Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction when his administration knew there weren’t any.
9:30: Dickerson wonders why Cruz doesn’t have a ground component to his Middle East plan. Cruz says the single greatest threat we face is the threat of a nuclear Iran. He says he has promised to “rip to shreds” the Iran nuclear deal. He says one of problems of Obama/Clinton’s foreign policy is it focuses on issues like nation-building unrelated to protecting our country and it ultimately undermines our national security. Dickerson asks Cruz about whether he is putting too much faith in the Kurds and he says they are winning victories and fighting ISIS right now. Cruz criticizes Obama for refusing to arm the Kurds and says if we need to embed special forces to defeat ISIS, we should use them but we ought to start with using our air-power advantage. He says “we’re not using the tools we have” because Obama “is not focused on defeating the enemy.”
9:29: Dickerson asks Trump about Putin. Trump says he likes Putin because he called him a genius. Trump is booed when he says “Jeb is so wrong.” He says that’s Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists booing him. Trump says you can’t fight two wars at one time and we have to defeat the ISIS animals first. Trump says we have spent $5 trillion in the Middle East and have not won with thinking like Bush’s. He slams Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and gets booed again by the crowd. Bush reiterates that Russia is attacking the troops that America is supporting and Trump says we have “no idea” who the troops we are supporting are. Bush says Trump gets his military advice from the “shows” and is trying to “insult his way to the nomination.”
9:28: Jeb says we need to defeat ISIS and then dispose of Assad. Bush says Russia is attacking our team and says Trump is “ludicrous” for suggesting that Russia can be a positive partner. Jeb says he would restore the military, have a strategy to destroy ISIS, and immediately create a policy of containment re: Iran if he were president.
Breitbart’s Joel Pollak: Trump: Senate Must ‘Delay, Delay, Delay’ Scalia Replacement
9:23: Dickerson notes that Carson has had more 2 a.m. phone calls than anyone on stage. Dickerson wonders if Carson’s lack of political experience would be a liability. Carson says “thank you for including me in the debate.” He says the 2 a.m. phone calls require judgment and the kinds of things you come up with are very, very difficult and unique. He says he was known for doing things that had not been done before. He says no amount of experience prepares you for doing something that has not been done before and that’s where judgment matters.
9:21: Rubio is asked the same question. He says he would want to know about the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East (Sunni/Shia conflict), and rebuilding NATO in the European theater. Dickerson asks Rubio what he can point to in his past to show voters that he has been tested. Rubio says that in 2014, Obama would not take military action against Assad in Syria unless it was authorized by the Senate. He says he saw images of children being gassed and then looked at Obama’s plan and concluded that attacking Syria would make the situation worse by allowing Assad to stand up to America and strengthen his grip. He said his decision against Obama’s desire to use force was the right decision.
9:17: Dickerson asks Trump about national security. What three questions would he ask his advisers. He says “what we want to do, when we want to do it” and “how hard do we want to it” because we have to knock out ISIS. Trump says we have to learn who our true allies are. He says we spend billions of dollars supporting people who may not be our allies. Trump says the Iran Deal is a “disgrace” and one of the worst deals he has ever seen in his life. “A disgrace and an embarrassment,” he says. Trump says we have to rebuild America and says he is the only one on the stage said America should not go into Iraq. He says the Middle East got destabilized just like he said. Trump says he said four years ago to attack and keep the oil and points out they just started that a couple months ago.
9:14: Dickerson now turns to Cruz about whether Obama should nominate Scalia’s replacement. Cruz calls Scalia a “legal giant” who was someone who was “faithful to the Constitution” and “changed the arc” of legal history. Cruz says “we are one Justice away” from striking down abortion restriction, striking down Heller, undermining religious liberties. He says the Senate needs to stand strong against Obama’s potential nomination. He says the people of South Carolina must determine who on this stage has the background and the spine to appoint principles constitutionalists to the Supreme Court. He and Dickerson had a testy exchange about when Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed. [The Supreme Court discussion is more proof for why conservative moderators are needed at the debate and not mainstream media moderators who are not fluent in conservatism and what animates the discussion on the right: judges]
9:13: Jeb says he would not have a litmus test for Supreme Court Justices and he’ll nominate someone with a “proven conservative record.” He says someone, like Scalia, who is a “lover of liberty” and a “believer of limited government” should be nominated. He says we sometimes get surprised (like his dad with Souter) when we pick someone without a long record.
9:11: Rubio again doesn’t answer the question about Senate filibusters and goes on to talk about how Scalia consistently defended the original meaning of the Constitution. He says Scalia understood that better than “anyone in the history of the republic.” He says it’s been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court Justice and Obama should not be able to appoint Scalia’s replacement. He points out how consequential this election is for the Supreme Court. Dickerson asks Rubio about filibuster reform and he says if Republicans were not in control of the Senate, Obama would ram liberal Justices down their throats.
9:09: Carson says the Constitution doesn’t address this situation. And he speaks about looking into lifetime appointments. Carson says we need to start thinking about the divisions that are going on int he country and he talks about the “truly nasty” remarks that people made after Scalia’s death. He says Obama is not going to heal the country and we should not allow a Justice to be appointed during his presidency.
9:08: Kasich says the country would not be as divided if he were president. Kasich says the country is so divided and we’re going to see another partisan fight take place. Kasich says Obama should nominate someone who could be unaminously be approved. Kasich says the next president should decide who should be on the Supreme Court with the vote of the American people.
9:06: Dickerson asks Trump about Scalia. He asks Trump if it would be an “abdication” to conservative not to nominate a justice if he were a conservative. Trump says he would try to nominate a Justice if he were president and he is absolutely sure Obama will try to as well. He says Scalia’s death is a “tremendous blow” to conservatism and the country. Trump says it’s up to Mitch McConnell to stop Obama from nominating a Justice. “It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Trump says.
9:05: Dickerson introduces co-moderators Major Garrett and Kimberley Strassel of the Wall Street Journal.
Moment of Silence for Justice Scalia:
9:02: Dickerson points out that Justice Scalia, the longest-serving member of the court, died today. Dickerson describes him as a “brilliant legal scholar” and the court’s “leading conservative.” He asks for a moment of silence for Scalia.
9:01 PM EST: The candidates take the stage and Dickerson introduces them. There are no mishaps like in last week’s debate.