Republican presidential debate: Cruz says rich doing great under Obama


Republican Party‬, ‪Republican Party presidential debates, 2016‬, ‪Rand Paul‬‬

Here is the latest from the GOP presidential debates, sponsored by Fox Business Network, in North Charleston, S.C. All times local.:


9:18 p.m.

Donald Trump is defending his opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the U.S.

He says “it’s not fear and terror, it’s reality.”

Trump is rattling off a list of places recently struck by terror as evidence the U.S. needs to take a harder line against people who want to perpetrate “great destruction.” He’s citing attacks in Indonesia, California and Paris.

Trump says the U.S. must take a “good, strong look” at its policies. He says “the country’s a mess.”


9:16 p.m.

It took the moderators more than 15 minutes to get around to asking Ben Carson a question. He answered by thanking them for waking him up.

The neurosurgeon-turned-outsider candidate came prepared with the joke. He’s made it before.

He also seemed prepared with an answer about President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Carson says Obama “doesn’t realize we now live in the 21st century.” He says the president needs to be on alert for stateless terrorists and the threat of dirty bombs.

He says “war is very different.”


9:12 p.m.

Republican Jeb Bush is attacking Democrat Hillary Clinton over the FBI investigation of her private email server.

The former Florida governor is seeking a breakout moment in an unsettled race in which he’s faded from the front of the presidential pack.

He says Clinton would be a “national security disaster.”

Bush is pointing out questions over the 2012 killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

But the larger point he’s making in his first opportunity during the debate is that she would be distracted by personal matters during her first 100 days in the White House if she’s elected.

Republican Party‬, ‪Republican Party presidential debates, 2016‬, ‪Rand Paul‬‬

He says she might be shuttling “between the White House and the courthouse.”


9:09 p.m.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is casting the president’s State of the Union address earlier this week as “story time with Barack Obama.”

Christie described Obama’s speech when asked when he would use military force if he were commander in chief. Christie says Obama gave a rosy picture of the current state of affairs, noting that earlier this week Iran captured 10 U.S. sailors.

Christie says Obama’s speech “sounded like everything in the world was going amazing.”

Christie adds that a Hillary Clinton presidency will be a “third term of Barack Obama’s leadership.” Christie says if he wins, Clinton “won’t get within 10 miles of the White House.”

Christie has said he will use military force as president only when absolutely necessary to protect American lives.


9: 07 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich says familiar Republican ideas are the key to spurring economic growth: cut taxes, reduce regulations and balance the federal budget.

“When you do that … the job creators begin to get very comfortable with the fact that they can invest,” Kasich says.

Kasich says it’s particualrly important to cut corporate income taxes. Regulations, he says, are “smothering people.” He did not cite specifics.

He also reminded voters that he was budget chairman in the 1990s, the last time the federal budget was balanced. “We’re nowhere near a balanced budget,” he said.

The annual deficit actually has been cut by more than half during the seven years of the Obama administration. The 2015 deficit was equivalent to about 3 percent of nation’s overall economic activity, about what it was in 2008, the last year of President George W. Bush’s administration.


9:06 p.m.

Ted Cruz says millionaires and billionaires have done great under President Barack Obama but everyone else is suffering.

He’s blaming what he calls the “Obama-Clinton economy.” He says it’s left behind working men and women.

Cruz says Obama tried to paint a rosy picture of jobs in his State of the Union address Tuesday. He says it’s just in Washington that “things are doing great.”

Unemployment under Obama recently fell to 5 percent.


9:05 p.m.

Sen. Ted Cruz got the first question at the Fox Business debate, but he didn’t immediately answer it.

Rather than talk about his view of the U.S. economy, Cruz opens with a charging attack on President Barack Obama and his relationship with Iran.

Cruz says he was “horrified” to see images of the 10 U.S. sailors briefly held by Iran Tuesday night after crossing into Iranian waters. He slammed Obama for not even mentioning the incident in his State of the Union speech.

Cruz says Obama is too cozy with Tehran. He says if he were president, any nation that held U.S. sailors would feel “the full force and fury” of the United States of America.


9:02 p.m.

The first question of the prime-time GOP presidential debate is about jobs: President Barack Obama says the economy is durable and new jobs are being created. What do the Republican candidates see that he doesn’t?

‘Undercard’ debate

The Republican “undercard” debate Thursday night concluded with all three candidates promising that they’d be the best to take on the Democratic front-runner – glossing over, for the moment, the seven other Republicans they’d have to beat first.

“You cannot wait to see the debate between me and Hillary Clinton. You would pay to see that fight,” said former tech executive Carly Fiorina. Fiorina then cast herself as a stand-in for women everywhere, saying she’d been told to accept less than the best her whole life – and would not stand by while the United States was told to do the same with Clinton.

“Citizens, it is time,” Fiorina said, echoing – consciously or unconsciously – the “Saturday Night Live” parody of Clinton herself. “We must take our country back.”

The other two candidates on the stage, former senator Rick Santorum (Pennsylvania) and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, talked about races they’d run against Clinton’s allies. “You want a fighter? You want a winner? I’d appreciate your vote,” Santorum said.

In a pugnacious, fearful debate – in which one candidate raised the prospect of a nuclear doomsday and another the prospect of government taking people’s guns – they concluded in hopes that something stuck. But if nothing else, at least they were there. In his closing statement, Santorum mocked another candidate who felt that the undercard debate was beneath him.

“I’m going to take some of Rand Paul’s time here for a second,” Santorum said after his own speaking time had run out, speaking of the Kentucky senator who would accept nothing less than the main stage.

Earlier in the evening, Santorum had sought to reframe a plan to deport undocumented immigrants as a “gift” from the United States to both the immigrants and their home countries, bringing the benefit of American-educated and American-assimilated people.

“I’m going to give them the gift of being able to help the country they were born in. We’re gonna export America,” Santorum said when asked about his plans to increase deportations of people who entered the country illegally. “They can start a renaissance in their country so they won’t be coming here anymore!” he said to loud applause.

The tone of Thursday night’s debate was unusually fearful and confrontational, as all three candidates onstage hoped for a Hail Mary – a single breakthrough moment that would elevate them to the top tier of candidates at long last.

For Huckabee, the plan seemed to be playing up conspiracies by President Obama to crack down on gun owners – and even seize firearms from lawful owners. Huckabee was cheered when he said he’d encouraged gun sellers to disobey Obama’s latest executive actions that expanded background checks for gun sales. Huckabee said he wasn’t sure that Obama could be trusted to leave guns in their owners’ hands: ” ‘If you like your gun, you can keep it too,’ ” Huckabee said, paraphrasing a famous – and unkept – promise by Obama that Americans could keep the health insurance they had after his health-care bill passed. “Frankly, we don’t buy it. He’s lost his credibility,” Huckabee said.

Santorum, for his part, raised fears of an apocalyptic attack by Iran, which he said would develop a nuclear weapon because of Obama’s efforts to sign – and keep – a nuclear deal. Santorum said that Iran was not like other countries, and that it might use the weapon to hasten a doomsday for religious purposes. An “electromagnetic pulse” attack, involving a nuclear weapon detonated in the upper atmosphere, could shut down all electronics in the United States, Santorum said, repeating some of his deeply worried messaging from the campaign trail.

Huckabee also offered skepticism about the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, saying that he saw little hope for rebuilding a nation “like the land of the Flintstones.”

“It’s been that way for thousands of years,” Huckabee said of Afghanistan, although parts of that country were relatively modern before the long and destructive fighting that began with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Huckabee had been asked whether continuing American efforts to aid the Afghan government against Taliban militants was worthwhile. He gave no outright answer, but seemed skeptical that it was. “I don’t know what we’re going to make it look like. You can’t create for other people a desire for freedom and democracy.”

The issue of national security dominated the early minutes of the undercard debate, which – unfortunately for the three candidates – may be the least consequential of the presidential cycle so far. The debate itself was held either at dinnertime or during work hours for most Americans, and its highest-polling candidate, Fiorina, was polling at less than 3 percent nationally.

All three candidates criticized Obama for being too passive and permissive in foreign policy, and all promised more aggressive stances toward rivals such as Iran and Russia, as well as the Islamic State. Fiorina was asked whether, in an effort to fight the Islamic State, she would accept an alliance with Russia and Iran. She said no, and added that the United States must stick by Saudi Arabia in its ongoing tensions with Iran.

“Saudi Arabia is our ally, and Iran is our adversary,” Fiorina said after offering a list of Middle Eastern allies whose leaders she knew personally. “Vladimir Putin and Russia are our adversary. We cannot outsource leadership in the Middle East to Iran and Russia.”

Fiorina was also skeptical of Obama’s latest efforts to expand background checks for gun buyers. So was the audience: When a Fox Business Network moderator noted that polls show widespread support for expanded background checks, the crowd booed.

“Not in this room,” said Santorum.

That’s what the polls show, the moderators replied.

“And we all believe the poll data all the time, don’t we?” Fiorina said.

Earlier, Fiorina had denounced both GOP front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as examples of “crony capitalism.”

The difference, Fiorina said, was that Clinton works inside government to benefit cronies in the private sector, while “Donald Trump sits outside government and rakes in billions buying people like Hillary Clinton,” Fiorina said.

The undercard, like the main event, was televised on Fox Business Network. The debates are being held in North Charleston, South Carolina, a key early-voting state.

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