Highlights from 6th GOP debate

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Angry Trump, candidates criticize Ted Cruz

THE sixth Republican debate took place the night of  Thursday, Jan. 14 in North Charleston, South Carolina, with seven hopeful candidates in the primetime mix: frontrunner Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla), former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio governor John Kasich, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum met earlier that evening for the undercard debate, which Rand Paul boycotted, said USA Today. Both debates aired Thursday night on FOX.

During the two-hour slot, the candidates passionately discussed economic and foreign policy, job growth, immigration, and gun control, among other topics, and criticized President Obama’s policies including his final State of the Union address.

“Tuesday night, I watched story time with Barack Obama,” Gov. Christie said, adding that the president sugar-coated current events and ignored crises around the world. As president, Christie promised to improve relations with international allies, while confronting adversaries, and would take military action “when it was absolutely necessary” to protect American interests.

Carson, joking about “waking up” for a question, said that Obama does not understand the very real threats facing the US.

“Our country’s a mess,” added Donald Trump, the last candidate to get a question. He defended his opposition to Syrian refugees and his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US, citing a risk of terrorist presence within American soil.

“We have to stop with political correctness,” Trump said, insisting that he would not change his mind on the issue.

Trump remained unapologetic, expressing his anger toward South Carolina’s Republican governor Nikki Haley for her response to the State of the Union, in which she urged members of her own party to resist the temptation to follow “the siren call of the angriest voices,” including Trump, CBS News reported.

“When Nikki said it, I wasn’t offended,” Trump said. “Our military is a disaster. Our health care is a horror show…we have no borders…yes, I am angry.”

When asked about gun control, all of the candidates were passionate and equipped with ideas,

Bush said proposed expansions of background checks are “redundant,” and that the current laws should be competently enforced. He also argued that the government should do more on mental health and strengthening policies on who can purchase guns.

Trump agreed, declaring himself a defender of the Second Amendment. “The guns don’t pull the trigger,” he said. “It’s the people that pull the trigger.”

“The Second Amendment is not always an option,” Rubio retorted. “[Obama’s] executive orders would not have prevented the recent mass shootings.”

The candidates were also asked about the popularity of “Democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, who is going head-to-head for the Democratic nomination.

“Relax,” Kasich said, “I know Bernie and I promise you he will never be president of the United States.”

All of the candidates ganged up on Democrat candidate and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

“If I’m the nominee, she won’t get within 10 miles of the White House,” said Christie. “If you are going to leave this to Hillary Clinton, the person who gave us this foreign policy, the architect of it…Hillary Clinton cannot be president, it will lead to even greater war in this world.”

Agreed Jeb Bush, “In her first 100 days…she might be going back and forth between the White House and the court house. We need to stop that.”

“Clinton cannot handle sensitive intelligence information,” said Rubio. “She is disqualified from being Commander in Chief of the United States.”

“Everybody on this stage is better than Hillary Clinton,” Bush added, according to TIME.

Clinton had some words of her own for the GOP candidates, live-tweeting during the debate: “Here’s the truth: You can’t make America greater by insulting, shaming, and demonizing the people of America.”

The event became a spectacle with a sudden clash between Trump and Ted Cruz, who are battling for first place in Iowa before the crucial state’s upcoming caucuses. Cruz responded forcefully to Trump’s accusations that he isn’t constitutionally eligible to be president because Cruz was born in Canada.

“Back in September, my friend Donald said he had his lawyers look at this in every which way. There was nothing to this birther issue,” Cruz said. “Since September, the Constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have. And I recognize that Donald is dismayed that his poll numbers are falling.”

“On the issue of citizenship, Donald, I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you,” Cruz said, to which Trump fired back, “Because it wouldn’t work.”

Cruz also criticized Trump for embodying “New York values,” saying that New Yorkers tend to hold socially liberal views, and then turned around a Trump attack on him, reported ABC News. “Not a lot of conservatives come out of Manhattan,” Cruz said, an apparent reference to Trump telling crowds that “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba.”

Trump’s retort was somber, citing New York’s response to the 9/11 attacks and telling his rival: “That was a very insulting statement that Ted made.”

Marco Rubio, once an ally, also went head-to-head with Cruz for “flip-flopping” on immigration policy, trade legislation, birthright citizenship rules, and even military spending. “That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation,” Rubio said.

“I appreciate you dumping your [opposition] research on the debate stage,” he said according to Washington Post, as the crowd in North Charleston booed. “At least half the things Marco said were false.”

Towards the end of the debate, mild-mannered Ben Carson called for ceasefire.

“We have to stop this because, you know, if we manage to damage ourselves and we lose the next election and a progressive gets in there and they get two or three Supreme Court picks, this nation is over as we know it,” he said.

During the closing statements, each of the candidates boasted of their experience and values, and promised greatness for America.

The primetime debate, moderated by Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo, was just 18 days away from the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses. 

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