Fifth GOP Debate Highlights... in 2 Minutes

GOP debate highlightsThe fifth GOP debate aired on CNN last night. It focused purely on national security - the biggest issue right now for American voters, which wasn't even on their minds in the 2008 presidential election.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Monday found that 40% of Americans think national security and terrorism should be the government's top priority. More than 60% of those polled listed it in their top two spots. By comparison, the issue came in at 16% - the last out of four options - in the final poll before the 2008 election.

Here's a look at the fifth GOP debate highlights in the Republican candidates' final battle of 2015...

Top 10 GOP Debate Highlights

  1. Donald Trump said he won't run as an independent. "I am totally committed to the Republican Party," Trump stated. Of course, he could always change his mind.
  1. Jeb Bush stood up to Donald Trump, but ultimately had another bad night. "You are not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency," Bush said, drawing cheers. The two candidates tangled a few times during the night; despite Jeb's effort, it felt like Trump came out on top of the exchanges. Also, Jeb's stutter-filled closing statement left a bad taste.
  1. Rand Paul acted as a "voice of reason." The Kentucky senator barely made the stage due to low polling numbers, then turned out his best debate performance yet. With smart commentary, he pointed out that the recent security measures suggested by Trump are flat out illegal. "'Closing the Internet' to fight terrorism is a violation of the First Amendment, while killing the families of terrorists requires America pulling out of the Geneva Conventions that ban the purposeful targeting of civilians," he said. "We have to have a more realistic foreign policy - not a utopian one."
  1. Trump and Paul are the only two candidates that wouldn't necessarily put boots on the ground in Syria and Iraq. The others would deploy ground forces immediately.

  1. This debate was instructive in revealing key differences between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The two skilled debaters battled it out over military and surveillance issues. Rubio said Cruz weakened U.S. security when he opposed the NSA's metadata collection. Cruz accused Rubio of lying, then laid out a more dovish national security plan than Rubio's, saying that not every despotic dictator is worth deposing. Later on immigration, Cruz criticized Rubio for being soft. Rubio alluded that Cruz is softer on immigration than he wanted voters to believe, and backed Cruz into saying, "I have never supported legalization, and I don't intend to support legalization."
  1. Chris Christie continued to play the populist. "If your eyes are glazed over like mine, this is what it's like to be on the floor of the Senate." The New Jersey governor then argued that action - not talk of minuscule policy details - is what matters most in a president.
  1. Carly Fiorina portrayed herself as the candidate of action. From start to finish, Fiorina's message was that if you want something done in Washington, she's your girl. The businesswoman quoted Margaret Thatcher, "If you want something talked about, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman." She closed the night by saying, "Citizens, it's time to take our country back from the political class, from the media, from the liberal elite."
  1. Kasich didn't get much time, and sent a more moderate message. He stressed that for the sake of national security, Dems and Republicans need to cut down the infighting. "We'll never get there if Republicans and Democrats fight with each other ... before all of that, we're Americans, and I believe we need to unify in many ways to strengthen the country."
  1. Carson also didn't get much time, and stressed the importance of listening to the experts. "If our military experts say we need boots on the ground, we should put boots on the ground," he said of military presence in the Middle East. A few times during the night Carson criticized President Obama's unwillingness to listen to the experts advising him.
  1. All these candidates are sick of political correctness. "It's not a lack of competence that is stopping the Obama administration - it is political correctness," Cruz said.

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