CNN Republican Debate
December 16, 2015

In the nearly two and a half hours that the Republican presidential candidates were on stage Tuesday night, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina weren't even mentioned once by the other candidates, Vox reports. In contrast, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Donald Trump were the talk of the night, being brought up by other candidates a total of nine times each.

The tally of mentions indicates a particularly brutal slide for Fiorina, who just four months ago was declared by many to have won the debate in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. However, in Las Vegas she only managed to speak for 9 minutes and 45 seconds. Kasich fell even shorter, only talking for 8 minutes and 58 seconds. Ben Carson was another candidate who was largely ignored by his colleagues, only getting mentioned once by Jeb Bush.

While mentions might not be a definitive way to determine a debate winner, they do give a pretty good indication of who is being considered a threat. No surprise, then, that Hillary Clinton was brought up 32 times. Jeva Lange

December 15, 2015

Republicans who are worried about Donald Trump running as an independent, splitting the party vote, and ushering in President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders, cast your fears aside.

When moderator Hugh Hewitt asked Trump during the CNN Republican debate if he was "ready to reassure Republicans you will run as a Republican and abide by the decision of Republicans," Trump replied: "I really am, I'll be honest." Trump said he has "gained great respect for the Republican leadership, gained great respect for the many — and I'm even going to say all, in different forms — people on the dais."

After re-dedicating himself to the Republican Party, Trump shared that he feels "very honored to be the frontrunner," and if he is "so fortunate to be chosen" as the nominee, he will do "everything in my power to beat Hillary Clinton." Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2015

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul sparred over Russia and Syria at Tuesday's GOP debate, with Paul saying Christie's support of a no-fly zone shows he is "reckless" and "in favor of World War III."

Christie said that if elected, he wouldn't hesitate to "shoot down" any Russian planes that entered the no-fly zone if Moscow was "stupid enough to think that this president was the same feckless weakling that the president we have in the Oval Office now is." Paul scoffed at Christie, saying: "I think if you're in favor of World War III, you have your candidate." Paul said Americans want a leader with "judgment, not someone who is so reckless as to stand on the stage and say, jumping up and down, 'I'm going to shoot down Russian planes.' Russia already flies in that airspace; it may not be something we're in love with, that they're there, they were invited by Iraq and Syria to fly in that airspace."

Then, Paul went there: "It's having that kind of judgment, who you would appoint, that is incredibly important. I think when we think of the judgment of someone who might want World War III, we might think of someone who might shut down a bridge." Christie ignored Paul's dig at the Bridgegate scandal, instead focusing on Paul's use of the word "reckless." "I'll tell you what reckless is," he said. "Allowing Russia to come into Crimea and Ukraine, inviting Russia into Syria to team with Iran, that is reckless. If you think a no-fly zone is a reckless opinion, you're entitled to your own opinion." Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2015

One of the recurring themes in the Republican presidential debates has been Jeb Bush trying to attack Donald Trump and Trump destroying him. During Tuesday's CNN debate, Trump and Bush got into a sparring match again, this time over national security and immigration. Trump was accusing Bush of being soft on immigration, when Bush jumped in to say that Trump had said ISIS isn't America's problem. Trump tried to bash Bush into quieting down, and Bush smiled and said, "A little of your own medicine, there, Donald."

"I know you're trying to build up your own energy, Jeb, but it is not working very well," Trump retorted, as host Wolf Blitzer tried to mediate. "Donald, you're not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency — it's not going to happen," Bush said, getting his biggest applause line of the night. "Leadership is not about insulting people and disparaging people. Leadership is about creating a serious strategy to deal with the threat of our time."

Trump tried to get in the last word: "With Jeb's attitude, we will never be great again." But for probably the first time, Bush had already won the exchange. Peter Weber

December 15, 2015

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) came out swinging during Tuesday's CNN Republican debate, saying that when it comes to immigration, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is not only the "weakest of all the candidates," but also has "more of an allegiance to Chuck Schumer and to the liberals than he does to conservative policy." The Schumer dig was a direct reference to Rubio's role on the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," which tried and failed to pass immigration reform in 2013.

"The one thing that might have stopped San Bernardino, that might have stopped 9/11, would have been stricter controls on those who came here, and Marco has opposed at every point increased security, border security, for those who come to our country," Paul said. The senator from Kentucky said that last week, he introduced a bill "saying we need more security, more scrutiny, and once again Marco opposed this."

Rubio replied by saying the bill only received 10 votes, because it didn't focus on terrorists but would have banned people coming to the United States as tourists. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie entered the fray to call out both senators. "If your eyes are glazed over like mine, this is what it's like to be on the floor of the United States Senate," he said. "Endless debates about how many angels are on the head of a pin from people who have never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position." Christie declared that "nobody in America" cared about the back and forth, adding: "What they care about is, are we going to have a president who actually know what they're doing to actually make these decisions?" Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2015

Within minutes of the CNN Republican debate starting, candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump went toe to toe regarding comments Trump made about banning Muslims from entering the United States.

When asked why earlier he called Trump and his plan "unhinged," Bush said that the Islamic State needs to be destroyed "in the caliphate," and after that happens, "the refugee issue will be solved." Bush said the U.S. needs "to arm the Kurds, in concert with Arab nations. If we're going to ban all Muslims, how are we going to get them to be part of a coalition to destroy ISIS?" Trump's proposal isn't "serious," he added, and it will "push the Muslim world, the Arab world, away from us at a time when we need to re-engage with them." Then came the zinger: "Donald is great at the one-liners, but he's a chaos candidate and he'd be a chaos president," Bush said to cheers. "He would not be the commander-in-chief we need to keep our country safe."

A clearly irritated Trump responded by saying he's sure Bush doesn't "really believe I'm unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign, it's been a total disaster, nobody cares, and frankly I'm the most solid person up here." Trump cited his company and professional success as being proof he's the real deal. "All I want to do is to make America great again," he said. "I don't want our country to be taken away from us." Catherine Garcia

November 20, 2015

Things are looking up for Chris Christie. After being relegated to the kids' table at the last GOP debate, the Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey governor will likely be retaking his spot on the main stage at the upcoming CNN debate on Dec. 15 in Las Vegas, thanks to the debate's different qualifying criteria announced Thursday.

For round five, CNN is giving candidates three different ways to snag a main-stage spot:

Candidates must meet one of three criteria in polls conducted between October 29 and December 13 and recognized by CNN: An average of at least 3.5 percent nationally; at least 4 percent in Iowa; or at least 4 percent in New Hampshire. [CNN]

While the national polling percentage is a full percentage point higher than the last debate's criteria, CNN will not be including poll results from Investor's Business Daily, which, according to The Hill, was "one of the four used by Fox Business that caused Christie... to fall to the undercard."

Based off of CNN's criteria — and as the polls stand right now — Christie would make the debate stage, along with Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina.

The debate will be moderated by Wolf Blitzer, who will be joined by CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt as questioners. Becca Stanek

September 16, 2015

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is doling out free advice to GOP presidential candidates: Chill with the rhetoric.

"I've talked to everyone about toning it down," Steele told the Los Angeles Times before the start of the main CNN Republican Debate Wednesday night. "The sooner we change the tone of the rhetoric, the sooner we change the emphasis from exclusion to assimilation and inclusion, the better off the party will be."

Not all of the candidates listened, including Donald Trump, who discussed deporting undocumented immigrants and, after prodding by Jeb Bush, said he would not apologize to Bush's Mexican-born wife, Columba, for suggesting that she was the reason why her husband was weak on immigration. Steele said when election day comes around, voters will remember every position the candidates had during their campaigns. "That is where everything you say matters 10 times more than it did in a primary," Steele said. "Oftentimes, what happens is what you said in the primary comes back and bites you in the butt." Catherine Garcia

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