The candidates had a lot to prove during the fourth GOP debate, hosted by FOX Business last night. Eight Republican presidential hopefuls battled each other for more than two hours on economic issues.
It's widely being reported that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio came out on top. He effectively weaved compelling personal anecdotes into his policy discussions, retelling his family's immigration story during both his opening and closing statements to reiterate the idea of "the American Dream." The young senator lauded vocational training programs in his response to a question about raising the minimum wage. Rubio believes the United States could help its workers by making higher education more accessible. His answers drew cheers from the crowd.
But alongside Rubio's standout comments, each candidate shined on at least one occasion.
With no clear-cut "runaway" winner, the answer to the question of who won the GOP debate is really up for you to decide.
Here are each candidate's most memorable moments from last night's showdown...
Who Won the Republican Debate? A Look at the Candidates' Best Moments
- Retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson's closing statement came just after Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz touted their campaign websites. In his usual soft-spoken, mild manner, Carson said, "In the two hours of this - of this debate, five people have died from drug-related deaths, $100 million has been added to our national debt, 200 babies have been killed by abortionists, and two veterans have taken their lives out of despair. This is a narrative that we can change, not we the Democrats, not we the Republicans, but we the people of America, because there is something special about this nation, and we must embrace it and be proud of it and never give it away for the sake of political correctness." This final statement made by Carson prompted wild applause.
- Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's shining moment came when he confronted Trump, rebutting the real estate mogul's plan to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Bush pointed out that "it's just not possible and it's not embracing American values" - a statement that drew cheers from the crowd.
- Texas Sen. Ted Cruz dismissed the question of whether or not he'd raise the retirement age and cut benefits for future retirees in order to return to Jeb Bush's earlier claim that the GOP's positions on immigration would hurt them in the general election. "What was said was right," Cruz bellowed, "the Democrats are laughing - because if Republicans join Democrats as the party of amnesty, we will lose." The crowd went wild.
- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul made his mark when he jumped in to accuse Rubio of not being conservative enough, particularly when it comes finances. First he attacked Rubio's proposed plan to expand the child tax credit for low-income parents. Paul reasserted that families shouldn't get tax credits to pay for childcare - which has been a less popular stance on both sides of the political spectrum. "Is it fiscally conservative to have a trillion-dollar expenditure?" he asked. "We're not talking about giving people back their tax money. He's talking about giving people money they didn't pay. It's a welfare transfer payment." While these comments alone didn't garner much reaction from the crowd, Paul continued to berate the young senator, claiming that "the most important things we're going to talk about tonight are spending plans." He pointed out that the United States allots ten times more funding to the military than the next country behind us. Then he asked, "Can you be a conservative and be liberal on military spending? Can you be for unlimited military spending, and say, 'Oh, I'm going to make the country safe?'" This tirade was met with wild applause.
- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina stuck to a similar theme throughout the evening: attack left-wing rivals and highlight her own policies. Her shining moment came when she lamented the problematic policies of Vermont Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Socialism starts when government creates a problem and then steps in to solve the problem that it created," she said. This drew a hefty round of applause from the audience.
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich's best comment came when he was asked about immigration. "We need to control our border," he said, "just like people have to control who goes in and out of their house." However, overall, Kasich did not have an impressive evening. The moderate conservative got into it several times with rival Donald Trump over immigration reform. And notably, he was booed by the crowd after he suggested there was room for government involvement in saving big banks from going under.
- As for real estate mogul Donald Trump, his debate performance this time around was also comparatively poor. Trump struggled to get into specifics as his rivals onstage spat them out left and right, though he did start off strong. And that's where his shining moment burned bright. Moderator Neil Cavuto kicked off the FOX Business debate by asking Trump if he was sympathetic to those pushing for a minimum wage hike to $15.00 an hour, especially given that the Trump tax plan allots a zero-income tax clause to individuals making $25,000 or less annually. Trump responded favorably and was met with the crowd's cheers. "This country has been beaten on every front," Trump said. "Wages too high and taxes too high... we're not going to be able to compete against the world. [The U.S. taxpayers] have to go and work really hard. I would not raise the minimum wage."
More and More Ben Carson Scandals Are Coming to Light: But whether any are true... well, that's a different matter. Last week, Carson battled the media over the factual accuracy of three anecdotes he'd told in his own books. Are these accusations part of a massive smear campaign, or did the good doctor tell a few bad lies?
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