I'll be live-blogging the Fox News debate here. Keep reloading this post for more updates.
This is the first debate since Super Tuesday, and the first since Ben Carson dropped out. This debate will also be overshadowed by Mitt Romney's searing indictment of Donald Trump earlier today.
For more live-blogging, check out National Review, TPM, the New Republic, and Althouse (my mom).
As always, I'll be writing down quotes on the fly, without a rewind button, so they might not be word-for-word, but I'll try to keep them reasonably accurate (and I might or might not go back and correct some of them later).
9:02 — Donald Trump is asked about Romney's diatribe against him; the moderator quotes: "the bullying, the greed, the misogyny. . . ." Trump focuses on trade — an issue on which Romney used to praise Trump!
9:05 — Trump, when asked about the KKK and David Duke: "I totally disavow the Ku Klux Klan. I totally disavow David Duke. . . . You're about the 18th person to ask me that question."
9:06 — Marco Rubio is asked about the fact that he used to say he wouldn't stoop to personal attacks, but in the past week he's been making some very low blows, including "vulgar" ones, against Trump. Rubio says the media gives "an incredible amount of coverage" to Trump's attacks, and he "deserves" to be attacked the same way. Trump reminds us about Rubio's joke about Trump's supposedly small hands. Trump holds up his hands to show that they're not small. And then: "He also said: If they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there's no problem!"
9:10 — Rubio to Trump: "Two-thirds of the people who have voted, have voted against you." Rubio says Trump is "not a conservative," and he "believes the nuclear triad is a rock band from the 1980s."
9:13 — John Kasich is asked whether he'd join Romney in encouraging voters to vote for Rubio in Florida, to try to lead to a brokered convention — and Kasich has recently admitted a brokered convention is the only way he could get the nomination. Kasich doesn't answer the question, brushing it off as being about "process," which "bores" him!
9:18 — After Rubio attacks Trump over his business record, Trump says: "This little guy has lied so much about my record!" Trump says his siblings heard Rubio in the last debate claiming Trump had inherited $200 million, and told their brother: "We didn't know dad left you $200 million!" Rubio objects to Trump calling him a "little guy" instead of talking about "policy," which is a bit rich after Rubio has been going around implying that Trump has a small penis and that he wets his pants.
9:23 — Trump is asked how he could have said in the last debate that he'd balance the budget by abolishing the Department of Education and the EPA, whose combined budgets are far less than the deficit. Trump says he'd allowed pharmaceutical companies to "bid properly," which would reduce "hundreds of billions of dollars" of waste. Chris Wallace flatly denies that, along the lines of this fact check. Trump seems to suggest that Wallace isn't fully grasping how Trump would allow more negotiation in a way that would broadly affect the economy.
9:26 — Ted Cruz says he understands the anger of Trump supporters — but "for 40 years, Donald has been part of the corruption in Washington that you're talking about." Trump says that's because he "wasn't a politician" and "owed it to [his] company to get along" with Democrats and Republicans.
9:27 — Kasich is asked about his supposed support for raising the minimum wage, unlike Trump, who's against raising it. Kasich says he's not in favor of raising the federal minimum wage — he was just describing Ohio's increase, but states are free to set their own policies. The moderators should be better prepared! [Added later: You can judge for yourself whether Kasich really supported raising the federal minimum wage in this video from September.]
9:31 — Cruz rebuts Trump's argument that he's supported Democratic politicians just as "the cost of doing business." Cruz says that could be understandable, even if it would be "corrupt." But Trump supported Carter against Reagan, and wrote multiple checks to Hillary Clinton — not just for her Senate campaign since she was the Senator from his state, but also for her presidential campaign. Trump admits he contributed to her presidential campaign — but says that was still just the cost of doing business (which does seem to make sense).
9:37 — Trump is asked if the tape of his off-the-record discussion with the New York Times, in which he supposedly expressed a willingness to be flexible on his immigration stance, should be released, and he says no. Rubio points out that the Times would release the tape if only Trump asked, but Trump still refuses. I'm not that interested in that issue, since Trump has already admitted on the record that he might be flexible on immigration. What I find more interesting about this interchange is that after Rubio defends his record on immigration, Trump strikes a conciliatory tone. Trump seems to express appreciation for Rubio's position, and he minimizes the differences between them on immigration. That might have been understandable if this had been the first debate, but in this debate, it's a jarring juxtaposition with the raucous hostility between those two that's been going on lately. I wonder if Trump has thoughts of trying to reconcile with Rubio and use him in some way.
9:41 — Megyn Kelly asks Trump about a conflict between his statements on visas for highly skilled workers — his website seems to be against them, but his own statements seem to be favorable to them. Trump candidly admits: "I'm changing it, and I'm softening the position."
9:51 — Brett Baier asks Trump about his suggestions that he might use torture and also kill terrorists' families. Baier says some in the military would refuse an order to do so, since they've been trained to refuse illegal orders. Trump says it's not illegal, but Baier says it would be. Predictably, Trump denies that they'd refuse: "If I say do it, they'll do it." Trump goes on: "They're chopping off the heads of Christians and anybody else who happens to be in the way . . . and now we're talking about waterboarding?!"
9:56 — Without being asked a question, Kasich chimes in to say that in a survey of about 700 foreign-policy experts, 55% said he would be the strongest on foreign policy. Kasich reminds us of his experience in Congress (before his current position as Governor), and alludes to one of the most famous debate moments in American history: "I knew Ronald Reagan! And I'll leave it right there as to what comes after that."
10:01 — Megyn Kelly plays a clip show of Trump flip-flopping on 3 issues: whether we should have invaded Afghanistan (no, then yes), whether to allow refugees from Syria (yes, then no), and whether George W. Bush lied us into the Iraq war (yes, then unsure). On the first one, Trump says he simply meant Iraq, not Afghanistan (although he admits that he once told Howard Stern, "meekly," that he'd support invading Iraq). On Syrian refugees, he says he changed his mind because he originally imagined very few refugees, and then heard larger numbers ("thousands and thousands"). Kelly tries to make a larger point out of all this: "You change your tune on so many things, and that has many people saying: What is your core?" "I've never seen a successful person who didn't have a degree of flexibility." That was a pretty tough series of questions, which Trump handled pretty adeptly.
10:07 — Rubio rebuffs Trump: "There's a difference between flexibility, and telling people whatever you think you need to say to get them to do what you want them to do."
Out of an abundance of caution, I'm refraining from saying anything about some legal issues being discussed in the debate, due to my professional situation.
10:14 — Cruz points to Trump and Rubio, who've been going after each other for a while, and says: "Is this the debate you want playing out in the general election?" When Trump interrupts, Cruz suggests Trump has a temper problem: "Count to 10, Donald! Count to 10!"
10:17 — Trump and Cruz argue about their poll numbers.
10:23 — Brett Baier asks Rubio: "Why haven't GOP candidates done more or talked more" about lead poisoning in the water of Flint, Michigan? Rubio says he has been talking about it; the Governor of Michigan "has taken responsibility" for it; and "Democrats" have been wrongly trying to "turn this into a partisan issue." He says there's "a proper role" for the federal government in dealing with this problem. [VIDEO.]
10:25 — Kelly asks Kasich about schools in Detroit that are "infested with rodents and insects." (The debate is happening in Detroit.)
10:28 — Cruz gives a paean to the Detroit of yesteryear, which was squandered by decades of Democratic rule. "That is a story that the media ought to be telling over and over again" — "the millions who have been hurt by" "left-wing policies."
10:30 — Kasich is asked about his comments in the last debate on same-sex marriage and religious liberty. He says if you're a same-sex couple who's turned down by a wedding photographer, "find another photographer! Don't go to court!" [VIDEO.]
10:32 — Cruz is asked if gay couples should be able to adopt children. Cruz says that's for the states to decide, citing the 10th Amendment. He pivots to saying the Supreme Court was wrong to say there's a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
10:34 — Baier asks Rubio if he agrees with the late Justice Scalia that the 2nd Amendment "leaves room to regulate guns." Rubio says he'd leave "as little room as possible" to regulate guns. Rubio says a law-abiding "gun-owner like myself" will follow the law, but "criminals" don't care about the law.
10:36 — Trump says not as many people would have died in the Paris terrorist attacks if bullets had been flying "in the other direction."
10:39 — When Trump interrupts Cruz's answer, Cruz condescends to him: "Donald, I know it's hard for you . . ." Trump interjects again: "Lyin' Ted!" Cruz tries to calm Trump down: "Breathe, breathe, breathe . . ." Rubio: "When they're done with the yoga, can I answer the question?" Cruz: "I really hope that we don't see yoga on this stage." Rubio, pointing to Trump: "Well, he's very flexible, so you never know." [VIDEO.]
10:44 — Rubio says Trump isn't "serious" on foreign policy. He brings up Trump's answer that the military will do anything he tells them to do. "Now, that's just not true." Trump bears down: "When I say they'll do as I tell them . . . they'll do as I tell them!"
10:46 — Rubio is trying to present a more serious and sober version of himself than he did in the last debate. After Trump says Rubio isn't a "leader," Rubio says: "He's pressed on a policy issue, and his answer is just to attack somebody else with a name. . . . Will you give a detailed answer on foreign policy any time you're asked about it?"
10:50 — Wallace plays a Kasich campaign ad suggesting that Trump will name Russian President Vladimir Putin as his running mate. Wallace asks Kasich if he thinks Trump is "naive" on foreign policy. Kasich won't answer: "I'm not biting!"
10:56 — Baier asks all the candidates if they'll stand by their pledge to support the nominee. Rubio goes first: "I'll support the Republican nominee. I'll support Donald if he's the nominee." Cruz says: "Yes, because I gave my word that I would." Kasich says yes . . . but "sometimes he makes it a little bit hard!" Trump: "Yes, I will."
Thursday, March 3, 2016
I'll be live-blogging the Fox News debate here. Keep reloading this post for more updates.