CNBC GOP debate
October 29, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie put in his two cents Thursday morning on just how "biased" he thought the CNBC moderators' questions were at last night's third Republican presidential debate. "First of all, the moderators just didn't do their jobs last night," Christie said on MSNBC's Morning Joe, echoing other conservatives' dissatisfaction with the host network's handling of the event.

"They were biased, their questions were biased. They didn't do their job controlling the debate, either. It became something of a free-for-all," Christie said. In fact, in Christie's opinion, the CNBC moderators were angling for fights between candidates. "They want us to kill each other," he said.

Still, Christie said that someone who is truly presidential material should have been able to handle the moderators' antagonism. "If you're not tough enough to handle questions from moderators, you're not tough enough to be president of the United States," he said.

Watch Christie's interview on Morning Joe below. Becca Stanek

October 29, 2015

On Wednesday night's Republican debate in Boulder, Colorado, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) made a marijuana joke, offering to buy CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla "some famous Colorado brownies" — "Mmm. Brownies," Quintanilla replied later — but Ohio Gov. John Kasich was adamantly opposed to Colorado's liberal marijuana law. "Sending kids mixed signals about drugs is a disaster," Kasich said. "I've spent five years of my administration working with my team to do a whole sort of things to try to rein in overdoses."

Roger Stone, a political operative who worked on Ronald Reagan's 1976 bid for the Republican nomination, and later as an advisor to Donald Trump, had something to say about that:

Kasich did work on Reagan's 1976 campaign, but he dismissed Stone's accusation:

And his campaign pushed back harder, referring reporters to veteran Republican operative Charlie Black, who told Cleveland.com that he was Kasich's supervisor in 1976. "This is the first time I ever heard anyone mention drugs in connection with John Kasich," Black said. "He was not fired. He certainly was not fired for drugs."

Regardless of Kasich's views or past history, Ohio voters will have the final say in November, when both recreational and medical marijuana are on the ballot. Peter Weber

October 28, 2015

In Wednesday's GOP debate, CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Jeb Bush about the scandal surrounding daily fantasy sports leagues and insider trading, and Bush bragged that his fantasy football team is undefeated, 7-0. He added that if there is insider trading that's robbing people of money, the federal government or at least the NFL should look into it: "Effectively, it's day trading without any regulation at all."

Chris Christie (R-N.J.), governor of a state with a sizable gambling industry, disagreed. "Are we really talking about getting the government involved in fantasy football?" he said. The U.S. has a huge national debt, is fighting ISIS and al Qaeda, and is still grappling with too much unemployment, Christie argued, "and we're talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?" The government should be doing its job — "secure our borders, protect our people, and support American values and American families" — Christie said. "Enough on fantasy football. Let people play. Who cares?" Watch below. Peter Weber

October 28, 2015

A lot of Republicans at Wednesday night's debate lobbed criticism at Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the self-described democratic socialist running for the Democratic presidential nomination. But it turns out that Donald Trump and Sanders have something in common: Neither has a super PAC supporting them. (Trump is largely self-financing, while Sanders is taking in mostly small donations.) And like all the Democrats, Trump is opposed to super PACs.

"Super PACs are a disaster, they're a scam, they cause dishonesty, and you'd better get rid of them," Trump said on Wednesday. "Because they are causing a lot of bad decisions to be made by some very good people. And I'm not blaming these people," he said, pointing at his rivals on the stage, adding to laughter, "but, I guess I could." He repeated that super PACs cause good people to make bad decisions, then said that if "anything comes out of this whole thing, with some of these nasty and ridiculous questions, I will tell you: You'd better get rid of these super PACs, because they're causing a big problem in this country," citing how they favor lobbyists and "special interests." Watch below. Peter Weber

October 28, 2015

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) turned a presidential debate question asking him if he "hates his job" into a diatribe on the mainstream media, and then quickly went on the offensive after Jeb Bush called him out for missing several votes in the Senate.

In an editorial earlier in the day, the Sun Sentinel in Florida said because he is running for president, Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year and is "ripping us off." When asked at Wednesday's GOP debate if he hated his job, Rubio didn't respond, instead lashing out at the Sun Sentinel for not saying anything when John Kerry and President Obama missed votes while on the campaign trail. "This is another example of a double standard that exists in this country between the mainstream media and conservatives," he said to applause.

Bush piped up, saying that he's a constituent of Rubio and "expected that he would do constituent service, meaning he shows up to work. He got endorsed by the Sun Sentinel because he was the most talented guy in the field. He's a gifted politician. But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term and you should be showing up for work. Literally, what is the Senate, like a French work week? You get like three days you have to show up?"

Bush then suggested that Rubio resign and let someone else take the job, since "there are a lot of people working paycheck to paycheck in Florida as well, looking for a senator that will fight for them each and every day."

Rubio swiftly pointed out that Bush said he is modeling his campaign after John McCain's, and asked, "Do you know how many votes John McCain missed when he was carrying out that furious comeback? I don't remember you ever complaining about John McCain's vote record. The only reason why you're doing it now is because we're running for the same position and someone convinced you that attacking me is gonna help you." Rubio added that he will not go after anyone onstage. Minutes later, his communications director sent out a tweet urging people to watch the Bush vs. Rubio smackdown, then watch it again.

It wasn't the first combative moment of the night. Just minutes into the debate, Donald Trump was asked (in his opinion, "not very nicely") if he was running a "comic book version of a presidential campaign," and Ohio Gov. John Kasich said his fellow candidates were making "empty promises" and playing "fantasy tax games." Later, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ripped the moderators, saying Americans don't trust the media, and they had reason not to — CNBC's questions, he said, were barbed and didn't focus on matters of substance. "This is not," he added, "a cage match." Catherine Garcia

October 28, 2015

CNBC's Carl Quintanilla asked Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during Wednesday's GOP presidential debate about his opposition to the budget compromise working its way though Congress. "Let me start out by saying something," Cruz said. "The questions that have been asked so far in the debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media." The audience cheered, and Cruz continued: "This is not a cage match." The Democratic debate was a lovefest, Cruz argued, while the CNBC debate moderators have been pitting the Republican candidates against each other with barbed questions instead of focusing on substance — then he showed his admirable memory by reciting the questions that preceded his.

After Cruz's harangue, Quintanilla noted that his question was about substance, but the audience in Boulder was clearly on Cruz's side. And Cruz is right that the news media isn't all that trusted by the American public, according to a recent Gallup poll. But look at where Congress — Cruz's day job — sits:

[Gallup]


Which probably explains, at least in part, why all the senators on stage would prefer to be president, whose office is doing pretty well, respectively. Peter Weber

October 28, 2015

CNBC's John Harwood started out the question portion of Wednesday's primetime GOP presidential debate with a jab at Donald Trump. Trump wants to deport all illegal immigrants, get Mexico to pay for a 1,000-mile-long border fence, and cut taxes by $10 trillion without raising the deficit, Harwood said. "Let's be honest: Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?"

Trump began by saying the question "wasn't asked very nicely," and that CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow loves his tax plan. "I love the Mexican people," Trump said, but Mexican leaders are more clever than America's, and a politician couldn't get the Mexicans to pay for a wall, but Trump can. When Harwood pressed him about how his tax plan could possibly work, Trump again cited Kudlow. Watch the sparring opening salvo below. Peter Weber

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