Republican presidential candidates met on Saturday evening at St. Anselm College in Manchaster, New Hampshire for an ABC sponsored presidential debate just 2 days before the state primary as the candidates jockey for the spotlight and show Americans they are presidential material.
Donald Trump agreed to participate in the debate after boycotting the last Fox News debate and coming in second place during the Iowa Caucus.
Trump fielded the first question about his temperament and came out of the gates hitting at full speed by doubling down on his past controversial statements about deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States.
“And no matter how you cut it, when I — when I came out, I hit immigration, I hit it very hard. Everybody said, ‘Oh, the temperament,’ because I talked about illegal immigration” Trump said.
“I hit other things. I talked about Muslims. We have a problem. Nobody else wanted to mention the problem, I brought it up. I took a lot of heat” Trump added.
“We have to have a temporary something, because there’s something going on that’s not good” Trump continued.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said that America has had 7 years with President Obama and he’s still been unwilling to acknowledge the enemy that American is facing.
“This is a president who, in the wake of Paris, in the wake of San Bernardino, will not even use the words radical Islamic terrorism, much less focus on defeating the enemy” Cruz said.
Later in the debate, Cruz falsely blamed CNN for reporting that rival Republican candidate Ben Carson would be suspending his campaign.
CNN explained the misunderstanding here and clarified that Ted Cruz had previously confirmed that “CNN got it correct.”
But on Saturday night Cruz misstated that CNN had reported Ben Carson was suspending his campaign when CNN had only reported that Carson was taking a break.
Rubio-Christie Slug It Out
Marco Rubio had a good showing in the Iowa Caucus, finishing in third place while rising in the polls in recent days.
Rubio was a target during the Republican debate by the other candidates, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who had stated earlier that he was “not ready to be president of the United States” and criticized him for being truant during important Senate votes as a Florida senator.
Rubio seemed on edge but fired back at New Jersey Governor Christie while correctly pointed out that under Christie’s governorship, New Jersey’s credit rating was downgraded nine times.
Christie claimed that Rubio is a D.C. insider who does drive-by shootings with “incorrect and incomplete information” and a rehearsed speech.
“That’s what Washington, D.C. Does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him” Christie said.
Christie played up his experience as Governor of New Jersey and cited his track record responding to natural disasters in his state.
“And when the worst natural disaster in your state’s history hits you, they expect you to rebuild their state, which is what I’ve done. None of that stuff happens on the floor of the United States Senate. It’s a fine job, I’m glad you ran for it, but it does not prepare you for president of the United States” Christie said.
Bush-Trump Fireworks Were On Display Again
During previous debates former Governor Jeb Bush has been a thorn in Trump’s side and often attacked the New York billionaire for some of the controversial things he has said while on the campaign trail.
On Saturday night, Bush went after Trump over his past record with eminent domain which was correctly explained as “the seizure of private property for the sake of the greater good.”
Bush criticized Trump’s past record for using eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City which Trump said never occurred.
“Jeb wants to be — he wants to be a tough guy tonight. I didn’t take the property” Trump said.
Bush said that Trump lost in court.
Trump responded that he walked away.
Amid some booing from the crowd after Bush questioned how hard it is to take away a property from an elderly woman, Trump lashed out at the vocal audience members, accusing them of being Bush’s donors and special interests.
Trump said that he would bring back American jobs, criticized the TPP trade deal, and noted that under his tax plan the middle class and corporations would be cut while he would bring back trillions of dollars that’s offshore.
Christie-Kasich Argue Over Size Of Government
Christie spoke positively about the role he played cutting spending and reducing employees in New Jersey while explaining that Ohio Governor John Kasich has expanded his state government.
“New Jersey cut spending over $2.3 billion and we have 10,000 fewer employees than we had when I walked in the door. John has a bigger government now and more employees than he had when he walked in the door.” Christie said.
Kasich disputed Christie’s claims and explained that Ohio has the lowest number of state employees in 30 years and have grown government at the rate of inflation.
“And I went from an $8 billion hole to a $2 billion surplus. And we’ve grown jobs by 400,000 — that’s one of the fastest growing states in the country. Our pensions are secure and our credit is rock solid” Kasich said.
ABC Host David Muir cited a statistic that shows 68 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people making more than a million.
Christie told the audience that after New Jersey raised taxes on millionaires, during the next four years they lost $70 billion in wealth that left the state.
“It left our state to go where it would be treated more kindly. If the United States raised taxes any further, that money will leave the United States, as well” Christie said.
“The 68 percent of the people are wrong about that, it will hurt the American economy. We tried it in New Jersey. Come take a look — it did not work” Christie added later.
Trump said near the end of the debate that America doesn’t win anymore and then emphasized that America would win with him as a U.S. president
“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. You look at New Hampshire with the tremendous problem we have with heroin. Number one thing I hear from the people of New Hampshire, who I love, and developed such relationships, we don’t win with healthcare” Trump said.
“We don’t win with trade. You look at what other countries are doing to us. China. Everyone, they’re killing us on trade. If I’m elected president, we will win, and we will win, and we will win” Trump said in closing.