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Live updates: Republican presidential debate

November 11, 2015

Presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich (L-R) speaks while Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz (R-TX) take part in the Republican presidential debate. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Eight Republican candidates faced off Tuesday night in Milwaukee, in the fourth round of Republican debates. Four contenders who didn’t meet the threshold for the later debate took part in an earlier undercard debate.

Read the transcript from the undercard debate.

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | Speaking to Fox Business’s Neil Cavuto after the show, Donald Trump heaped praise on the network for putting on a contest that met his standards.

Trump was one of the leading Republican candidates seeking reform and greater control over the process after last month’s much derided CNBC debate. And according to the GOP presidential hopeful, Fox Business nailed it.

We had three very talented people asking questions.”

“You did a really elegant job, the three of you. Great job.”

“You folks did a fantastic job.” 

“Especially after that last catastrophe, I think you did a good job.”

“I thought they were really good questions. There were no fantasy football questions.”

“I thought it was a special evening actually.”

You get the idea.

The debate was also a success for another reason, according to Trump: he won.

“People are saying I won the debate,” Trump added — citing, as always, online surveys that declared him the winner, with the proviso: “I don’t know if I won it or not.”

  • James Hohmann
  • ·

Facebook reports that the Marco Rubio exchange with Rand Paul was the most buzzed about moment on the social networking site.

Via Facebook, these were the five most discussed issues:

  1. Taxes
  2. Immigration
  3. Minimum wage
  4. Jobs
  5. Healthcare

These were the five most discussed candidates on Facebook:

  1. Ben Carson
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Rand Paul
  4. Ted Cruz
  5. Carly Fiorina

These were the top candidates discussed by WOMEN during the debate on Facebook:

  1. Ben Carson
  2. Donald Trump
  3. Ted Cruz
  4. Rand Paul
  5. Carly Fiorina

These were the top candidates discussed by MEN during the debate on Facebook:

  1. Rand Paul
  2. Ben Carson
  3. Donald Trump
  4. Ted Cruz
  5. Carly Fiorina

The most engaged states during the debate:

  1. Virginia
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Maryland
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Vermont
  • Karoun Demirjian
  • ·

ON THE ISSUES | Circling back to foreign policy for a moment: How do you deal with a resurgent Russia wreaking havoc in Syria and Ukraine? Donald Trump seemed to say earlier tonight he would kind of just let Putin do his thing.

“If Putin wants to go knock the hell out of ISIS, I would be all for it,” Trump said. “They blew up a Russian airplane, they cannot be in love with these people.”

Republicans have, as a party, had a rather wary approach to Russia and its campaign in Iraq and Syria. Though Putin claims to be in Syria to fight the Islamic State, Russian warplanes have also been targeting rebel forces opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally. The GOP continues to be circumspect about Russia’s involvement in the fight, even as last week’s explosion of the Russian jetliner over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula drives Moscow to focus their fight more closely against the Islamic State.

But that wasn’t even Trump’s most controversial statement. He also advocated, as he has in the past, steering clear of the conflict in the Ukraine.

“Why are we always doing the work?” Trump asked, criticizing European nations like Germany for, as he saw it, egging on the Ukrainian army.

“They say keep going, keep going you dummies,” Trump said. “We have to get smart, we can’t continue to be the policemen of the world.”

The United States is hardly getting into the ground fight against Russian-backed separatist rebels in Ukraine. But the National Defense Authorization Act that Congress passed today does begin to supply the Ukrainian military with some lethal military aid for which Kiev has long been clamoring.

Trump didn’t say he’d entirely pull the plug on U.S. military aid headed to these conflicts. But he’s not very interested in keeping the money flowing – not to Ukraine or to our potential allies in Syria.

And the argument he’s making about why sounds a lot like the one Putin makes — at least in the Middle East, where the Russian leader has argued that leaving Syria in the hands of the rebel groups opposed to Assad’s regime would be worse than the current situation.

“Assad is a bad guy but we have no idea who the so-called rebels…nobody even knows who they are,” Trump said, complaining of the “hundreds of millions of dollars” being sent to help rebels. “I don’t like Assad – who’s going to like Assad? But we have no idea who these people are, who they’re going to be and what they represent – they could be far worse than Assad.”

Trump’s views didn’t find many fans on the stage, but most of his critics, like Marco Rubio and Carly Fiorina, tried to make a strategic argument, questioning why Trump would negotiate from a position of weakness with someone like Putin, who only responds to strength.

But Trump thinks he gets Putin. They hung out together in a 60 Minutes green room once, Trump said. Plus American and Russian media have compared the similarities of the two figures, even suggesting that Trump is American Putin.

And like Putin would, Trump would like to solve some of the nation’s problems with oil money. If only we’d kept control of it in the Middle East.

“We should have kept the oil, believe me,” Trump said. “And you know what? We should have given the oil, given big chunks, to the people who lost their arms and legs” in the Middle East wars.

He didn’t get much applause.

  • Terri Rupar
  • ·

Which of the eight candidates on stage did you think had the best debate?

This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.

  • Jenna Johnson
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | In his closing statement, Donald Trump threw in this jab at his rivals who are actively fundraising: “I don’t have to give you a website because I’m self-funding my campaign. I’m putting up my own money. I want to do something really special.”

But the claim that he’s self-funding his campaign just isn’t true any more, although Trump continues to say so on the campaign trail.

Trump started out spending his own money, but supporters sent him nearly $4 million in unsolicited donations between July 1 and Sept. 30, according to the campaign’s latest financial filing. Since launching his campaign in June, Trump has spent roughly $2 million of his own money and spent nearly $5.5 million.

So, really, his supporters are now footing the bill.

[Donald Trump received nearly $4 million in unsolicited campaign donations]

Trump does point out that a majority of that donated money came from supporters sending in small amounts, with an average donation of about $50. He has said that it would be rude for him to return such donations. Trump has also taken credit for running an inexpensive campaign that relies heavily on free media coverage, while many of his opponents are spending heavily on paid fundraisers and fancy television ads.

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Karoun Demirjian
  • ·

ON THE ISSUES | Many Republicans on stage were challenged to explain how their tax plans wouldn’t raise the deficit Thursday night.

When they couldn’t – or didn’t want to dwell on — that point, the candidates pivoted to elaborating on their tax plans and justifying their costs.

“The most important job I’m ever going to have is the job of being a parent,” Rubio said. “So when we set out the tax reform we endeavored to have a pro-family tax code.”

Rubio has been criticized for a tax proposal that could cost trillions. One of the most notable parts of it is an expansion of the child tax credit.

“If you invest that money, you invest in your children…we’re not going to recognize that in your tax code?” Rubio argued.

Ted Cruz, meanwhile, introduced his tax plan by referring to the Bible.

“There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible, and not a one of them is good,” Cruz said.

He went on to trumpet his flat-tax plan’s attributes, including that “it abolishes the IRS” and four other agencies – though he forgot to name the Department of Education when he listed them.

And if you want to know how the math works? “We have the specific numbers on the web site,” Cruz said, deflecting.

Rubio and Cruz trumpeted tax plans without directly answering questions about how they cover costs when both candidates are extremely critical of government debt under the current administration. They’ve also called for balanced budget amendments.

Rand Paul, off to one side of the stage, could not contain his frustration. And when Rubio added that he was also proud to defend his financial plan because it was important to rebuild the American military, Paul broke.

“How is it conservative to add a trillion dollar expenditure to the federal government…to add a trillion dollars to military expenditures?” Paul asked? “You cannot be a conservative if you’re going to keep promoting new programs you’re not going to pay for.”

Both Rubio and Cruz invoked national security to justify paying for their tax plans.

“There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians,” Rubio answered, to applause. “I know that the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”

“We have to defend this nation,” Cruz argued. “You think defending this nation is expensive? Try not defending it.”

  • Scott Clement
  • ·

BY THE NUMBERS | Jeb Bush and other Republicans expressed some support Tuesday night for at least some limits on size of America’s largest banks. That position is at odds with the party’s free market instincts, but is in line with the public’s mood toward banks since the 2008 financial crisis.

An October Washington Post-ABC News poll found 58 percent of Republicans want the next president to support stricter regulations of Wall Street financial institutions — a number that rises to 67 percent among the public overall. More broadly, a 2013 Post-ABC poll found 62 percent of Americans saying the nation’s banks and financial institutions have not taken adequate measures to prevent a future financial crisis; 27 percent said they have done so.

As the Post’s Amber Phillips wrote: Wall Street is a winning punching back for both political parties.

  • James Hohmann
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Via our analytics partners at Zignal Labs, Carly Fiorina got more buzz out of her back-and-forth with Donald Trump over Vladimir Putin.


  • Glenn Kessler
  • ·

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

“Only 19.8 percent of black teenagers have a job, who are looking for one.”

–Ben Carson

THE FACT CHECKER | In saying he was against increasing the minimum wage, Carson cited a figure for black teenage unemployment that seemed suspiciously low. (Apparently he meant to refer to the unemployment rate, though it came out sounding like he was saying 80 percent were unemployed.) Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that it stood at 25.6 percent as of October.

The Carson campaign initially sent a 2013 report from the American Enterprise Institute that said black male teens has a jobless rate for black male teens was 44.3 percent—but 19.8 percent for white male teens.  Oops. Then we were sent a pair of studies that shows the summer jobless rate for black teens was 19 percent. Seems like a shifting of the goal posts, but apparently he was talking about summer employment.

  • Elise Viebeck
  • ·

And check out the head wobble:

  • Abby Phillip
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | Once again, Donald Trump invoked President Dwight Eisenhower’s deportation policy of the 1950s, better known as “Operation Wetback.”

Yes, the policy was given a name now considered to be a racial epithet.

“Dwight Eisenhower: You don’t get nicer. You don’t get friendly,” Trump said, adding that “we have no choice” but to implement such a policy.

Yes, under Eisenhower, hundreds of thousands of immigrants were rounded up and deported. But according to historians, the process was anything but nice. Columbia University historian Mae M. Nga wrote:

“A congressional investigation likened one vessel (where a riot took place on board) to an ‘eighteenth-century slave ship’ and a ‘penal hell ship.’ …

At the other end of the border, in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican labor leader reported that ‘wetbacks’ were ‘brought [into Mexico] like cows’ on trucks and unloaded fifteen miles down the highway from the border, in the desert.”

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • David Weigel
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | A little while after Donald Trump joked about meeting Vladimir Putin between their respective “60 Minutes” interviews, Carly Fiorina saw an opportunity to put him down.

“I have met Putin as well,” she said. “Not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.”

It’s true that Fiorina did not meet Putin before a show, but the distinction isn’t stark. As The Daily Beast’s Tim Mak reported in September, Fiorina’s much-told story of a meeting with Putin occurred offstage before the 2001 APEC CEO summit in Shanghai, when she was leading Hewlett Packard and he was a newly installed leader of Russia. Putin was there to argue that his country was “gradually forming a stable, reliable and investment-friendly climate.” Fiorina, as she told the audience, talked to him before they both spoke at the summit. According to Mak, the meeting was 45 minutes long.

Trump’s strange, near-pointless reference to Putin (who was actually interviewed separately) did not do much to bolster his foreign policy credentials. Fiorina, by citing an event that she’s already been accused of over-selling, didn’t bolster hers much either.

  • Washington Post
  • ·


The exchange:

  • James Hohmann
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Twitter sends along a list of which candidates gained the most new followers during the first hour of the debate. Notably, the two leading Democrats got more than five of the candidates on stage.

1) @RealBenCarson

2) @marcorubio

3) @realDonaldTrump

4) @BernieSanders

5) @HillaryClinton

  • Glenn Kessler
  • ·

Jeb Bush. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

We have to recognize that small businesses right now, more of them are closing than are being set up.

–Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

THE FACT CHECKER | This is a stale statistic, derived from a report published in 2014 by the Brookings Institution, which studied Census Bureau data called Business Dynamic Statistics. Brookings analysts tracked data back to 1978 and found that starting in 2008, business deaths exceeded business births through 2011.

It soon became a favorite GOP talking point; Marco Rubio used it in the last debate. But that report is out of date. More recent data shows the trend shifted in 2012 and in the past two years, business starts began to exceed business deaths.

  • Michelle Ye Hee Lee
  • ·

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“We ought to look at where income inequality seems to be the worst. It seems to be the worst in cities run by Democrats.”

–Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

THE FACT CHECKER | A Brookings Institution report appears to confirm Paul’s claim. But at The Fact Checker, we always warn readers against correlating the economic trends in a city or state to policy decisions of a single executive – or in this case, his or her party.

A study by the Brookings Institution ranked the top 10 and bottom 10 largest cities in the country by income inequality, using 2012 Census data. PolitiFact rated Paul’s statement Half True, based on this study.

Among the 10 cities with the highest income inequality, nine had Democratic mayors. Atlanta, under a Democratic mayor, had the highest inequality out of the nation’s largest cities. The other cities led by Democrats were San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York, Oakland, Chicago, Los Angeles and Baltimore.

PolitiFact found that seven of the 10 cities in the report with the least income inequality had Republican mayors: Oklahoma City; Omaha, Neb.; Fort Worth, Texas; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Mesa, Ariz.; Arlington, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.

The 10 cities with the least inequality obviously are smaller cities than the ones in the top 10, while larger cities have wider ranges of income distribution since they have more people.

  • Jennifer Amur
  • ·

SOCIAL STUDIES | Via The Post’s Michael Cavna:

  • Karoun Demirjian
  • ·

THE CONTENDERS | And then Ted Cruz had a partial Rick Perry moment. Sort of.

While trumpeting his tax plan, Cruz boasted of all the agencies he’d cut. Five major agencies, he said.

And he listed them: the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

If you thought you read that wrong, you didn’t: He only listed four.

Yesterday was the four-year anniversary of the famous gaffe by another presidential contender from Texas, Rick Perry. The former Texas governor said during a November 2012 debate that he would cut three agencies of the federal government, but could only remember two.

Cruz was a little more graceful than Perry in forgetting his extra agency, avoiding a “sorry, oops” moment by simply listing Commerce twice.

That missing agency, by the way: the Department of Education, whose elimination Cruz has long supported. His campaign sent out the corrected list via Twitter just after he finished his response:

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