All eyes are on the Republican debate in S.C. The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia can cause a significant shift in the country, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear important cases around affirmative action, reproductive healthcare rights, and other important social issues. Six members of the GOP's presidential field will debate multiple issues, including the future of the Supreme Court. Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and Ben Carson will take the stage to answer questions from CBS News' moderators.
This debate is really about Trump, who won N.H. and is leading the S.C. polls. Can anybody stop his momentum before the S.C. primary on Feb. 20?
The debate is starting by paying homage to Justice Antonin Scalia, who was the "court's leading conservative," according to the CBS News moderator. The candidates and moderators took a moment of silence to honor the justice.
Donald Trump is asked about Justice Scalia, and whether or not President Obama should nominate a new justice. "If I were president now, I would try to nominate a justice." He wants the Senate to delay Obama's imminent nomination. He also says that Scalia's death is a “major blow to conservatism."
John Kasich wish we spent more time mourning Scalia instead of having a "partisan fight" over the vacant Supreme Court seat. He wants Obama to “put the country first” and not nominate a new justice.
When asked about the constitution’s perspective on nominating a new justice, Ben Carson says that we should re-evaluate the constitution’s appointment of Supreme Court justices. He’s also appalled by the “nasty remarks” offered after Scalia died. He also believes our country won’t heal under President Obama’s direction.
Rubio said Scalia’s "loss is tremendous." However, when it comes to removing the filibuster from nominating justices, he didn't answer the question, instead saying "we should interpret the Constitution as it was originally meant." He's also said he was never in favor of removing the filibuster because we see "the wisdom of why" we shouldn’t remove it.
Jeb said if he's president, he’ll appoint somebody with a “proven conservative record” who believes in limited government. He said Obama has the right to appoint a justice, however.
Cruz says that we have 80 years of not confirming a Supreme Court justice during an election year, which led to a brief fact-checking moment. He said Scalia was a "legal giant." His death also "underscores the stakes" of the importance of this election, according to Cruz, noting that we're one justice away from undoing conservative state laws.
National security is next on the debate agenda.
The first question goes to Trump. It's about the first three questions Trump will ask his national security advisors in the situation room. "What do you want to do? When do we want to do it? How hard do we want to hit?" He also calls it a disgrace that America negotiated a deal with Iran. Trump also brings up his record on not going into Iraq to prevent the destabilizing of the Middle East.
Rubio wants to focus in the Middle East, NATO in Europe, and another region where war is raging. He’s also being asked about he will navigate a crisis. He’s discussing being asked, while in Senate, about authorizing a conflict—which he did in 2014 involving Syria. Rubio voted against Obama's plan to use force.
Ben Carson is asked about 2 a.m. phone calls, and diverts back to the first question. "Judgment is what is required," Carson says about 2 a.m. phone calls. He also claims he's accustomed to doing
The moderators turn to Kasich about how America should handle Russia. He wants Russia to know that America "will arm the people in Ukraine who are fighting for their freedom." He wants America to lead on the issue of radical terrorism because "the world needs us." Kasich sees taking the lead on this issue will re-assert our position in the world.
Bush is asked about if attacking Assad will destroy our allyship with Russia. Bush doesn't think so. He thinks that we have to get rid of ISIS and Assad in order to stabilize national and foreign security. He also says that we should make our military stronger and make a specific plan to destroy ISIS.
Trump is then asked about his relationship with Vladimir Putin. He then says "Jeb is so wrong," which causes loud boos. "You've gotta fight ISIS first," Trump asserts. "We have to knock out ISIS." The billionaire businessman then says we have to get rid of ISIS because they're "animals." He also insulted Lindsay Graham.
Bush then responds to Trump by saying “Putin will never be an American ally.”
There's an exchange between Trump and Bush. Bush says Trump "insults his way to the nomination."
The focus then shifts to Cruz, who goes back to the Situation Room question. He claims the single gravest threat to America's security is a nuclear Iran. However, when it comes to ISIS, Cruz believes we need overwhelming air power and armed Kurds to defeat the terrorists. That also requires a clear plan, according to Cruz.
When challenged on the power of the Kurds, Cruz says we should arm them and let them fight because they've had victories against ISIS.
George W. Bush is now the topic of debate, since he will campaign for Jeb in S.C.
Trump is asked about his comments regarding former president George W. Bush's in the Iraq War. He said the war in Iraq was a "big, fat mistake." However, he doesn't answer the question, but says George Bush "made a mistake" and has "destabilized the Middle East." "There were no weapons of mass destruction," Trump stated.
In response, Jeb says he's "sick and tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problems he's had." However, he isn't concerned with Trump, and said he's proud of what he's did.
"The World Trade Center came down while your brother was president," Trump says, which gets large boos. It appears that Bush won this round.
Kasich says "this is just crazy." He does, however, admit that the Iraq War was a mistake and we should not have involved ourselves because it's a civil war. He also believes we should not be the "world's policeman."
Rubio says he thanks God that George W. Bush, and not Al Gore, was president during September 11th because he "kept us safe."
Rubio and Trump then get in an exchange, which ends with the Florida senator blaming President Bill Clinton for the September 11 bombing.
Next, Ben Carson is asked about casualties in the fight against ISIS. Carson says he wasn't in favor of the Iraq War because it's been "ruled by dictators for hundreds of years." However, he claims that it's the Obama administration's fault for leaving Iraq and destabilizing the region. Carson also said that Obama's attempting to avoid collateral damage is "asinine thinking."
Money is on the debate stage.
Trump is asked about how he plans to fund his ideas and if there will be big deficits if he's president. Trump says he will save social security and bring back jobs from Mexico, Japan, and Vietnam because they're "taking our jobs and our wealth." He also wants to lower taxes and bring money back from offshore. Trump says our economy didn't grow and "our country is dying,"
The moderator calls Trump out for not answering the question. He didn't explain how we plans to execute all of these ideas.
Cruz is then asked about the "consumption tax" and how it will grow wages. Cruz says the "middle-class has been left out" during Obama's presidency. Cruz says "lessening the burden of Washington on small businesses" will grow the economy. He also notes that he will make changes to America's tax policy that will abolish the IRS.
When challenged about how Europe uses a similar tax, Cruz says it's different. He also plans to abolish the Obamacare taxes, payroll taxes, death taxes and institute the Cruz flat tax.
Senator Rubio is asked about his 35% tax rate. "I'm not influencing social policy," Rubio said about his tax rate, which is similar to the Democratic tax policy. He claims that his "pro-family" tax policy will allow parents to invest in their children because $50 makes a difference in whether or not a child gets a new backpack.
Kasich is then asked about Medicaid reform and federal welfare aid. He says that Medicaid reform saves money, treats the homeless and those with mental illnesses, and lessens the numbers of those returning to prison. "We want everybody to rise," Kasich explains about his Ohio policies.
Bush says spending more money on mental health is important, but expanding Obamacare causes American debt. He said Republicans should be committed to repealing Obamacare.
Kasich retorts by saying that he sued the federal government to prevent Obamacare from coming to Ohio. "We expanded [Medicaid] to get people on their feet."
Bush and Kasich are now going back-and-forth about Obamacare versus Medicaid expansion, though he says he's tired of negative campaigning.
Bush is then asked about his proposal to raise taxes on hedgefund managers. He says we should simplify the tax rates and alter the tax code to increase job growth.
Carson is then asked about taxes, Obamacare, and Medicaid expansion. He said America should repeal Obamacare.
Immigration is next on the agenda.
Donald Trump and Rubio repeat former talking points.
Cruz is then asked about deportation and illegal immigration. He calls out his fellow candidates for not being tough on immigration. Cruz says Rubio and Schumer's amnesty plan shows a divide between him and Rubio.
Rubio then calls Cruz out for supporting amnesty, saying that he either wasn't telling the truth then or isn't telling the truth now. In response, Cruz says that he's evolved.
Rubio then calls Cruz out for not speaking Spanish, which led Cruz to attempt to speak hobbled Spanish on the debate stage. This exchange appears to be Rubio's.
Bush wants a legal path that doesn't include citizenship. He also notes that those who come here often don't have a choice. He then says immigrants aren't rapists as "who know who" said, referring to Trump.
In response, Trump said that illegal immigration wasn't even a subject on the campaign trail when he first decided to announce his campaign. He then said Bush is weakest on the issue of illegal immigration to the point that it's "laughable."
"It's standard operating procedure to disparage me," Bush said. He then said Trump that weak for disrespecting women, people with disabilities, and John McCain.
Kasich is asked about his perspective on deporting 11 million illegal immigrants. He said that Republicans will lose the presidency to Hillary Clinton if they don't stop attacking each other. He then pivoted back to the question, saying he's committed to "sealing the border" and instituting a path to legalization, but not citizenship. Again, Kasich said in his first 100 days, he will send a bill to Congress to strengthen the border.
The debate shifts to financial executives being jailed.
Carson said we need to start trimming the regulatory agencies instead of jailing and giving fines to financial executives. "You want to get rid of poverty, get rid of all the regulations," Carson said.
Senator Cruz is then asked about he's been a warrior for the poor.
Cruz claims that people of color, single moms, and other marginalized groups have been most hurt under Obama's leadership. He said we should bring back "booming economic growth" by reforming welfare and easing taxes for small businesses.
Trump is asked about taxing companies that plan to leave America and if he believes he has the authority to do so.
"I'll build consensus with Congress," Trump said. He said he's opposed to executive orders as President Obama uses. Again, Trump didn't answer the question.
The moderator asks Trump why changing his opinion makes him like Ronald Reagan.
"In life, you do have flexibility," Trump said. He also said that he's a common-sense Republican who doesn't always agree with his fellow candidates, especially around the issue of imminent domain.
Bush said that he disagrees with his brother on imminent domain because America shouldn't use it to "build a parking lot for high rollers from New York."
When asked about flexibility, Cruz said that you shouldn't be flexible on your core values. He then referred to Trump as an "entertainer" who has always been a liberal.
In response, Trump said Cruz is the "single biggest liar" who is a nasty guy who will "say anything."
Cruz says it's interesting to see Trump defend Carson after he referred to him as "pathological" and compared him to a "child molester." Trump, in response, said Planned Parenthood does wonderful things for women's health, but not when it relates to abortion.
Bush said Trump insulted Reagan by comparing himself to the man who "tore down the Berlin Wall."
Cruz is calling out Trump for contributing money to Democratic campaigns.
Senator Rubio is then asked about poverty. "For me, poverty is free enterprise not reaching people" because "anti-poverty programs have become a lifestyle." He proposes turning the federal welfare programs over to states.
Carson said America shouldn't want candidates "screaming" and "jumping up-and-down." He also said that all of his fellow candidates are better than the Democrats running against them.
Carson is then asked about political correctness and something voters need to hear that may be "politically incorrect."
Carson said people need to know that free college is a "non-starter" because America is on the "verge of economic collapse." He called out Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton for trying to take wealth from the rich instead of targeting the "big, evil government."
When asked about Democrats wanting to vote for him, Kasich said there isn't much difference between people. The Ohio governor says "blue-collar Democrats" have been left out of the Democratic Party. He believes that people sense that he's a uniter.
Trump is asked about an instance when someone told him no and he listened.
"My wife tells me I'm wrong all the time and I listen," Trump responded. He then said he's very open to critique though he's self-funded. He says we need people "who know what the hell they're doing."
Bush is asked about common ground for Republicans.
"The dysfunction in Washington is really dangerous," Bush said. He, then, attacked Trump about filing bankruptcy four times. "People in Washington don't get it," Bush explained.
Trump says he's used the laws of the country to run his business just like the biggest business leaders. He then attacked Bush on Florida's economic record and said Bush "didn't do a good job" as governor because "Florida crashed" when he left office.
Bush then pulled out his receipts about Florida's economy. "We didn't go bankrupt, like Trump did, and called it a success."
Rubio is asked about talking to previous presidents.
"[President Obama] is the worst president in 35 years," Rubio said. He'd want to ask Reagan, "How did you inspire the American people to believe in the future?"
The candidates included their usual talking points in their closing statements.