The debate started out well and the candidates were impressive until the audience started booing, hooting and hollering and Donald Trump attacked.
Donald Trump interrupted and screamed fairly often. He used the word “liar” a lot, aimed at his nearest competitor Ted Cruz. Rubio and Trump tag teamed attacking Cruz for a while. Trump also called Jeb Bush and his brother a liar.
Trump said he supports but doesn’t love Eminent Domain (previously he said he loves it), supports Planned Parenthood but not abortion, and repeated the liberal-style attacks on George Bush for 9/11.
It became a free-for-all.
Donald Trump had his worst night in many peoples’ minds but online polls said he won. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz had a good night. Jeb Bush had a decent night.
Rubio had some very good moments. One was when he said the Constitution isn’t a “living and breathing document.” He nailed the political implications of Justice Scalia’s death and the responsibility of the President to nominate another SCOTUS justice.
Rubio described Scalia as an originalist, and a great legal mind. He promised that if elected POTUS, he will nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court.
Ted Cruz said the Senate must stand up. He highlighted what is at stake with Justice Scalia’s death. Describing Scalia as “brilliant” and “faithful to the Constitution,” he stated that “we are one Supreme Court Justice away” from open access to all forms of abortion, destruction of the Second Amendment, and protections of religious liberty.
Cruz promised to nominate men and/or women who will uphold constitutional protects as SCOTUS justices.
Trump said we’re supporting troops we don’t even know in the Middle East. When Jeb protested, Trump yelled at him and said he spent too much money in New Hampshire. He was not responsive to the question at hand.
Trump said earlier he wanted to take the oil and Kasich wants to save Ukraine. Katich mostly played the role of someone who is above the fray.
Jeb said the sequester must be reversed and smacked Trump for his relationship with Putin.
Trump said Putin called him a genius so he likes him. Then he said that Jeb’s special interests and lobbyists are causing him to go after Trump on Russia. Trump said we must prioritize defeating ISIS over Russia. He then talked about how we’ve spent too much on prior wars and can’t spend more.
Jeb sees Putin as an ally of the US.
Trump was questioned about impeaching Bush regarding Iraq. Trump responded that he gets along with everybody as a businessman. He said the war in Iraq was a big fat mistake. He then shouted about it for a while. He refused to answer whether Bush should have been impeached. Then he called Bush a liar about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Jeb said he doesn’t care about the bloodsport of Trump. Jeb said while Trump was building a reality TV show, his brother George Bush was keeping us safe. Trump said the WTC came down while W was in office. He said “that’s not keeping us safe.”
Rubio said he thanks God that W was in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore. Rubio says that W did what the international community refused to do, and W kept us safe.
Trump asked how W kept us safe when the WTC came down.
Cruz said that we have to stop focusing on nation building and toppling governments. We need a president who says we will defeat ISIS, and will rely on military experts. He said Iran is the greatest threat to the US. Cruz said we have Kurds fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria and if they are armed, they could be loyal foot soldiers.
Cruz was asked whether his tax plan is value-added tax that will be increased by others. Cruz said it’s a business tax not a VAT. He said that the middle class has been left behind by the Obama economy. Cruz says that under his tax plan, you pay no taxes on the first $36,000, above 10%, everyone pays the same simple flat 10% rate, and we abolish the IRS. Businesses pay 16%.
Moderator Strassel asked about Rubio’s tax rates; his top tax rate is 35%. She says that it’s liberals who like to use the tax code to push social policy. Rubio says he’s not influencing social policy. He said you don’t earn the tax credit unless you’re working.
Strassel said that Trump’s plans would cost $12 trillion to $15 trillion, and we’d need growth of 7.7% to pay for them. Trump didn’t really answer and said he’ll save Social Security because he’s the only guy who can get elected. Trump said the only cuts will be waste, fraud and abuse. He’s going to bring all the jobs back from Mexico and Vietnam.
Trump is the one who brought up the issue but his solution appears to rest solely on setting tariffs.
Jeb was asked about his plan to tax hedge fund bonuses as income instead of capital gains. He defended it and then said we need to simplify the rates.
Rubio and Cruz had the usual immigration battle and it appeared to be a draw. They were both right.
Cruz reiterated that Rubio supported citizenship for 12 million here illegally. He opposes it. Cruz said Rubio has a long record on amnesty going all the way back to Florida, smacks him for saying he wouldn’t rescind Obama’s executive action on amnesty.
Rubio says Cruz doesn’t speak Spanish. Cruz then spoke Spanish to him. Now Rubio says Cruz lied to Ben Carson in Iowa, etc. That was disgusting.
Trump was on afterwards and said it was his best debate and Drudge and all the others are saying he won.
The brief version of GOP highlights:
A longer version: