The 5 big confrontations between CNBC moderators and GOP candidates

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP FACT CHECK: The Republican debaters and the facts.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. BOULDER — Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz emerged as the strongest challengers on Wednesday to insurgent frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson, in a fiery debate that may have marked a new phase in the 2016 race.

Ben Carson, 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to the media after the Republican presidential debate in Boulder, Colorado, October 28, 2015. With time running short until the first nominating contest in three months, the 10 Republicans in the evening’s main debate were anxious to stand out. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was in the spotlight more than in the first two debates, having risen to the top of polls nationally and in first-voting Iowa. First, the candidates raised their voices, sharpened their words and interrupted each other as if this was the Saturday night Israeli version of Meet the Press or a routine discussion in some Knesset committee.

But the soft-spoken candidate seemed unshaken by the heightened attention, even when quizzed on his proposal to eliminate all tax deductions and loopholes. In a dominating performance, Mr Rubio, the US senator from Florida, swatted away Jeb Bush when the former Florida governor attacked his attendance record in the Senate. “Just resign and let someone else take the job,” Mr Bush said, in response to a question about an editorial in a Florida newspaper that blasted Mr Rubio for having missed about one-third of his Senate votes this year.

Second, and more importantly, the candidates’ mutual criticism paled in comparison to their consensual identification of their true enemy, the liberal press — dubbed leftist in Israel — which is gunning for their right-wing heads. Carson awkwardly answered a question on his biggest weakness: “A weakness would be not really seeing myself in that position” — the presidency he’s running for — “until hundreds of thousands of people began to tell me that I needed to do it.” The celebrity billionaire, who has slipped in early-state and national polls, played a smaller role than the previous two debates. Marco Rubio said the media had a double standard, Ted Cruz claimed it was spewing nonsense, Mike Huckabee railed against the debasement of well-meaning public servants, Chris Christie put on a show of force against the gall of asking about Fantasy Football, Donald Trump blasted nasty and ridiculous questions and everyone compared the media’s obvious anti-conservative vendetta with the kid gloves with which they handle Hillary Clinton.

Jindal tried to hammer home that he’s the most conservative, touting his credentials as governor — but he also had to repeatedly defend his economic record that even some home-state Republicans have criticized. The only reason Mr Bush was making it an issue, Mr Rubio said, was “because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you”. After the debate had ended, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus came out for a bonus round, this time against the widely derided CNBC moderators. The exchange came on a night of heated clashes among candidates fighting to catch Mr Carson and Mr Trump, two upstart candidates who have tapped into voters’ frustration with the Republican party’s establishment. Like they would at any Likud Central Committee meeting, the repeated assaults on the perfidious press garnered the most enthusiastic applause from the audience in Boulder, as well as gleeful expressions of support from conservative observers tweeting at home, who seem to enjoy the Republican sawing of the branch on which they sit.

But I like to be unpredictable so that people don’t know exactly.” The Florida senator was a central figure in the evening’s most dramatic moment, when fellow Floridian Jeb Bush criticized his work ethic for missing Senate votes. And given that the most biting, concentrated attacks on the media came from Christie, Cruz and Rubio, it’s understandable why these three also topped the instant lists of winners compiled by analysts and commentators. And Graham was by far the most amusing of the evening, with multiple zingers and laugh lines, trying to show that he would be the best commander-in-chief and the best to protect national security. But let’s start at the opposite end: the big loser was certainly Jeb Bush, and not only because he didn’t participate in the anti-media feeding frenzy. The retired Air Force JAG officer and the only military veteran on stage had the best performance in the last debate too, and it did nothing to jumpstart him in the polls, so a strong showing may not matter.

Bush, who’s been suffering from a steep decline in the self-confidence of his donors and backers, was looking for a slam-dunk to restore his former glory. The tea party-backed Texas senator set the tone for a string of media criticism by the candidates, ticking through what he viewed as irrelevant questions, albeit by exaggerating them somewhat. “This is not a cage match. Ben Carson, can you do math?” Cruz said. “How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?” The audience responded with huge applause before other candidates followed suit. The former tech company CEO cast a smaller shadow on stage in Boulder than she did at the second debate, which was her first participating with the top candidates.

She did stand out in suggesting the government should play no role in providing retirement account assistance. “Every time the federal government gets engaged in something it gets worse,” she said. For his part, Mr Trump reiterated his pledge to be a great negotiator as president, pointing out he had persuaded CNBC to shorten the time of the debate “so we could get the hell out of here”.

Trump tried to be as brash and biting as usual and even landed some harsh punches on Ohio Governor John Kasich, but for once he took a back seat behind other, more aggressive rivals: perhaps he was subdued by the knowledge that Carson had overtaken him for the first time in the national polls. The Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for the November 2016 election also clashed over their tax plans, with Mr Carson defending his Bible-inspired proposals and former executive Carly Fiorina vowing to reduce the complicated tax code to three pages. CARSON: His proposed flat-rate tax, which would have everyone pay an income tax rate of about 15 percent, “works out very well” in budget terms because it would spark enough economic growth to offset the lower rate. He declined to criticize Trump’s moral authority to lead the country, joking: “You know, of the few questions I’ve got, the last one I need is to give him some more time.

THE FACTS: Carson says his proposed tax would not increase the budget deficit because he would tax the entire economic output of the U.S. — the gross domestic product — plus corporate income and capital gains. Mike Huckabee was sharp and impassioned, though he faces the insurmountable obstacle of overwhelming Evangelical support for Carson; Kasich lived up to his promise to be mad as hell and not take it anymore, but his moderate, centrist positions nonetheless cast him as a fish out of the conservative waters that surround him. In closing statements, Graham gets almost emotional. “America is great again,” riffing Trump’s slogan (Democrats have done this too). “If you make me your president, our best days are ahead.” Pataki also makes a pitch for the center, emphasizing he can work across the aisle and believes in climate change. Libertarian Rand Paul was curiously unengaged, and though she tried, Carly Fiorina couldn’t quite revive the fiery resolve that catapulted her upwards after previous debates.

The feisty Christie gave his best performance of the campaign by far, dulling the embarrassment caused him early this week by the news that an Amtrak conductor had ejected him from the quiet car for completely predictable reasons. But inexperience has been among the key questions hanging over the candidacy of Mr Rubio, who had struggled in previous debates to emerge from the shadow of other candidates. This writer believes that Rubio was the clear cut winner among the ten top tier debaters, albeit on points and not by knockout, positioning himself as the most likely heir to the anti-establishment Trump and Carson, should they ever lose their current commanding lead. Pataki tries to make a play for millennials, saying he uses Uber, but then kind of has a disconnect when he says it’s because he “used to be driven around” as governor. In the junior varsity debate, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham clearly outdid his rivals, though his over-the-top enthusiasm and total disregard for the moderators led some observers to wonder whether he had imbibed one or two too many.

Comey said he’d heard about one police official who told his force “their political leadership has no tolerance for a viral video.” But Comey never mentioned Obama or blamed politicians for failing to support police. Graham — a recent convert from his flip phone — says he only has one because Donald Trump gave out his phone number and he had to get rid of it. “Don’t give Donald Trump your cell phone number,” he says. The speculation was bolstered by Tuesday morning photos in the media of Graham and CNN reporter Dana Bash at local bar where they played a drinking game in which the eloquent senator was asked which women he would “date, marry or make vanish”.

In fact, Obama gave a firm defense of police Tuesday, telling a police chiefs convention that “this country is safer because of your efforts.” Of $3.9 million raised for his campaign in the latest fundraising quarter, only $100,000 came from his own pocket. And Graham, somehow, manages to turn it around to a national security jab, saying the real holiday should be when Barack Obama is no longer commander-in-chief. 7 p.m.

From Oct. 27, 2014, to Oct. 26, 2015, Rubio was absent for 26 percent of Senate votes, a worse attendance record than other senators running for president, according to an analysis by, which tracks congressional voting records. When his parents died when he was in college, he and his younger sister relied on their Social Security benefits; he’s not cutting Social Security benefits. “Social Security is not just a concept to me — I know why it exists.” Oh, also his parents owned a bar, so ” if you’re looking for good beer policy, i’m your best bet,” he says reviving an earlier question about beer industry in Colorado.

CNBC’s Rick Santelli (credited with spurring the Tea Party movement) essentially tries to call out Santorum for not being a true conservative because he supports the Ex-Im bank — something potentially revived by a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats this week in the House. The government stole it and spent it a long time ago.” Over the past 30 years, Social Security has collected about $2.7 trillion more in payroll taxes than it has paid in benefits. Santorum — who has a more populist economic plan than most Republicans — defends his support of it and says it’s necessary for the U.S. to have a level playing field. 6:40 p.m. I’m tired of losing,” he declares, hitting both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who he jokes “went to the Soviet Union for his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.” It’s a good moment for Graham.

Trump’s immigration policy calls for a different approach — raising the prevailing wage for the jobs that attract high-skilled foreign workers, in hopes that they’ll be filled by more Americans. He says if elected he’d give them two options — an open hand and a clenched fist. “Make me commander in chief and this crap stops,” Graham says. 6:20 p.m. Trump’s policy statement said doing that “will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.” THE FACTS: The agreement allows $80 billion more spending over the next two years, which is only a small addition to the $3.67 trillion the government spends every year. The agreement, approved by the House earlier Wednesday, sets funding levels and extends the government’s borrowing limit for two more years, thereby taking the threat of a government shutdown and debt default off the table.

A 2013 budget fight led to a 16-day partial government shutdown that was widely blamed by most economists for sharp drops in consumer and business confidence that dragged on the economy. Graham — again — pivots to national security and says he would have voted for it because you can’t endanger national security and reiterates he would do everything to keep the U.S. safe.

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