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Live updates: Republican presidential debate

September 16, 2015

The second primetime GOP primary race debate aired on CNN on Sept. 16 after a smaller undercard debate that featured four Republicans who did not make the polling cut for prime time.

  • Washington Post
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  • Niraj Chokshi
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The science of vaccine safety has long been settled. The political debate hasn’t quite.

Donald Trump again called for smaller vaccine doses Wednesday, suggesting that reducing their size — though not ending the practice — may reduce autism, even though scientists have said repeatedly that there is no link between vaccines and autism.

Trump has previously sounded a skeptical note on the issue. Last year, he sounded off on Twitter:

Other candidates have struggled with the issue on the campaign trail this cycle. Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have both called for more choice in vaccination requirements, prompting medical experts to voice concern.

“When you see educated people or elected officials giving credence to things that have been completely debunked, an idea that’s been shown to be responsible for multiple measles and pertussis outbreaks in recent years, it’s very concerning,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease physician at the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh. He called the comments from Paul particularly troubling because Paul is a doctor.

Christie’s aides quickly tried to clarify his remarks, insisting in a statement that the Republican governor believes vaccines are “an important public health protection.”

Trump’s response Wednesday the first time a candidate has seemingly stumbled a bit on debate night over a vaccine question. Four years ago, it was Michelle Bachmann:

But controversy ensued when Bachmann said after the debate that the HPV vaccine is “potentially a very dangerous drug” and related the story of a mother who claimed that her daughter had become mentally retarded because of the aftereffects of the vaccine.

In a subsequent debate, Bachmann was asked: “Do you stand by your statement that the HPV vaccine is potentially dangerous, and if not, should you be more careful when you’re talking about a public health issue?”

As shown above, she immediately denied that she had made that claim.

She said this even though the transcript shows that she called the vaccine “potentially a very dangerous drug” before she mentioned the distraught mother.

Bachmann also never acknowledged that it was a mistake to pass on unverified information — and she never made any attempt to identify the mother. She simply reinvented history and pretended that she never made the statement in question.

It was one of the unforced errors that helped sink Bachmann’s presidential bid.

  • Jennifer Amur
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SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Jenna Johnson
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Republican presidential candidate and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

ON THE ISSUES | As the debate was winding down, there were a couple quick rounds of some more lighthearted questions, including this one: Which woman would you like to see on the 10-dollar bill?

One by one, the long line of male Republicans on the debate stage listed off women who should be honored:  Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky picked Susan B. Anthony. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas both picked Rosa Parks, as did Donald Trump. Two candidates picked non-Americans: former Florida governor Jeb Bush went with Margaret Thatcher, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked Mother Teresa. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says Abigail Adams deserves more recognition, while Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker named Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee named his wife, while retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson picked his mom, because she “refused to be a victim.”

The only woman on the stage, Carly Fiorina, went in a different direction. She doesn’t want to change any currency because: “It’s a gesture. I don’t think it helps to change our history.” She added that she hopes women will soon be recognized as the majority they are, not the special interest group for which they are often treated.

Fiorina has not shied away from gender issues in this election — joking about hormones in the White House, while calling out reporters and fellow Republicans who make sexist comments. She has been one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fiercest critics, partly because as a woman she is able to make those attacks without the usual charges of sexism.

  • Ishaan Tharoor
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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ON THE ISSUES | Ted Cruz is upset that the main American diplomatic mission in Israel is in Tel Aviv, and not Jerusalem. His ire was stoked by a June Supreme Court ruling that blocked a young Israeli-American citizen from listing his place of birth in his passport as “Israel” instead of “Jerusalem.”

What’s the issue? I explained when it flared up last year:

The issue of sovereignty over this ancient city is a very delicate matter. Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal capital and has controlled the city in its entirety since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which saw Israel also seize the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The United States, on the other hand, let alone other countries less well disposed to Israel, does not recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

Washington is the main proponent of the moribund peace process and the two-state solution, which, among other things, prescribes East Jerusalem as the capital of a separate (and thus far unrealized) Palestinian state. Successive administrations in the White House, irrespective of their own ideological predilections, have maintained the U.S.’s longstanding neutrality on the question of Jerusalem’s status — even as Israel has steadily (and controversially) changed the facts on the ground.

Like some important figures in the right-wing cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some of the Republican candidates clearly don’t believe in the future of the two-state solution, either. Mike Huckabee recently grandstanded in a West Bank settlement that’s considered illegal in the eyes of the international community. And Cruz carries on with his call for the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

  • Glenn Kessler
  • ·

“I am the only person on this dais — the only person — that fought very, very hard against us, and I wasn’t a sitting politician going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq — that was in 2003, you can check it out, check out — I’ll give you 25 different stories.”

–Trump

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN

THE FACT CHECKER | Trump claimed that there were “25 different stories” demonstrating his opposition but BuzzFeed News reported that an extensive review could not turn up any statements by Trump before the invasion in March 2003. However, the week the war started, he was quoted by The Washington Post as saying “the war’s a mess.” But apparently he also told Fox News that because of the war, “I think the market’s going to go up like a rocket.”

Trump became significantly more vocal about being against the war in 2004—when U.S. troops began to be bogged down in an insurgency.

  • Jennifer Amur
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SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Jenna Johnson
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | As candidates debated how the United States should regulate and police marijuana — with Jeb Bush admitting that he smoked some back in high school — Carly Fiorina said that it’s dangerous to send a message to children that pot is just as safe to consume as beer. Fiorina shared that she and her husband, Frank Fiorina, “buried a child” because of drugs. Here’s a passage from an article I wrote in early May when Fiorina called for decriminalizing drug addiction:

For Fiorina, the issue is a personal one: One of her two stepdaughters, whom she helped raise from a young age, struggled with alcoholism and drug abuse for years and died in 2009. Lori Ann Fiorina was only 34.

“At that moment, we lost both the woman she was and the woman she could have been,” Fiorina wrote in the prologue of her latest book, “Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey,” which goes on sale Tuesday. “All our hope for her and her life had died. … A heart truly can feel as though it is breaking apart into a thousand shattered pieces.”

Fiorina described her stepdaughter as full of potential — smart, talented, hardworking, outgoing, kind and compassionate. But Lori drank heavily in college and later, while working in pharmaceutical sales, she began abusing prescription drugs. Bulimia made the problem even worse. Although Lori went into rehab three times, Fiorina wrote, addiction overtook her life.

“As anyone who has loved someone with an addiction knows, you can force someone into rehab, but you can’t make her well,” she wrote. “Only the addict can do that. Lori couldn’t — or wouldn’t — take that first step of admitting she was powerless over her addiction. And ultimately her body just gave out.”

You can read more here: Carly Fiorina: ‘Drug addiction shouldn’t be criminalized.’

  • Jenna Johnson
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | At one point in the debate tonight, Donald Trump said that speaking English is a key part of assimilating to the United States — and that he finds it off-putting that former Florida governor Jeb Bush speaks Spanish so much.

“This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish,” Trump said at one point.

Bush defended himself, saying that English is his first language and the one that he usually speaks — but that when someone asks him a question in Spanish, he will respond in the same language. Marco Rubio jumped in and said that while speaking English is “unifying,” he would rather communicate directly with Spanish-speaking Americans than have his message conveyed to them by a translator.

Soon after this back and forth, Hillary Rodham Clinton started tweeting in Spanish:

  • Amber Phillips
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ON THE ISSUES | The American West is facing an epic drought and simultaneously burning up with what’s expected to be yet another record-setting wildfire season — extreme weather events that climate change activists say is evidence of the negative impacts of shifting weather patterns.

Most Republican presidential candidates now agree climate change is occurring, but question whether humans are the cause and whether we should do anything about it — especially something that could hurt businesses. Meanwhile, the Obama administration released stringent rules in August designed to cut down on U.S. coal production.

The United States under Obama has invested heavily in alternative energy forms, such as solar and wind power, as well as expanded its natural gas production, extracted through a controversial process known as fracking, that detractors say pollutes the environment and causes earthquakes.

Relatedly, the next president will likely get to decide whether to build the fourth stage of the Keystone XL pipeline to ship Canadian oil to Nebraska — something the administration hasn’t yet done. Also on the table could be whether to lift the U.S.’s four-decade-old ban on exports of crude oil — something House Republicans are pushing for.

  • Jennifer Amur
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THE CONTENDERS | Carly Fiorina took on Trump and his comment regarding her “persona.” Hear her other memorable moments from the second GOP debate.

  • Elise Viebeck
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SOCIAL STUDIES | Carly Fiorina dinged Jeb Bush for smoking marijuana as a young person. Shortly afterward, this message appeared on Bush’s Twitter account:

  • Amber Phillips
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ON THE ISSUES | A summer filled with mass shootings — including two local Roanoke, Va., reporters gunned down in August on live television, a deadly Lafayette, La., movie theater shooting in July by a man with mental problems and another apparently racially motivated mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C. — has brought the gun debate back into the spotlight.

Polls consistently show that upward of 90 percent of Americans support expanding background checks, but a majority of Americans are doubtful that changing gun laws will help. And a new background checks bill failed in Congress after the 2012 Newtown massacre and hasn’t really been resurrected since.

Still, there could be some movement in Congress in the fall; in August, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn (Tex.), introduced legislation designed to encourage states to send more information about residents with serious mental problems to the federal background-check system. As for restricting gun ownership, though, it’s a complete non-starter for Republicans.

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

STOPWATCH | Trump’s still on top:

2300-two-hours

  • Jennifer Amur
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SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | First came the awkward Carson-Trump handshake/high-five heard ’round the web: trumpcarson

Then, later, a slightly more aggressive Bush-Trump low-five:

high-five-trump-jeb

  • Sean Sullivan
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THE CONTENDERS | No, he wasn’t on the stage. But three of the most memorable moments from tonight’s debates involved the 43rd president.

“You’re brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama,” Donald Trump admonished Jeb Bush in the prime-time debate.

Bush offered an impassioned response: “There’s one thing about my brother: He kept us safe.”

Later, Ted Cruz criticized George W. Bush’s decision to nominate John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

Bush said Roberts had “made some really good decisions” but had no “proven, extensive” record.

In the first debate, Lindsey Graham noted how well George W. Bush did among Hispanic voters and regretted that more recent Republican candidates have done a lot worse.

The 43rd president remains a major topic of debate in the GOP when it comes to Iraq, Roberts and immigration — issues that are at the forefront of the GOP conversation in 2015.

  • Elise Viebeck
  • ·

Courtesy of The Post’s Katie Zezima:

  • Elise Viebeck
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Maybe he had some extra time during the commercial breaks?

He isn’t the only one to think social while on stage, apparently:

  • Michelle Ye Hee Lee
  • ·

“I was made U.S. attorney by President [George W.] Bush on Sept. 10, 2001.”

–Christie

THE FACT CHECKER | Nope. Christie said this twice last debate, and it’s still not correct. Let’s review the timeline again.

Christie officially was nominated to the vacant U.S. attorney position in New Jersey on Dec. 7, 2001 – three months after the attacks. He was confirmed to the position in late December 2001 and began his role January 2002.

Christie emerged as a front-runner for the job by early September of 2001. He later said in interviews that the Bush White House called him on Sept. 10, 2001, saying he would be nominated to the position and that the background check process would begin. He didn’t hear back until two weeks after 9/11, when the White House said his nomination would be delayed because of a lack of FBI agents for his background check in the aftermath of the attacks.

It’s not the same thing as being “made” attorney general on Sept. 10, 2001.

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