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Everything To Know About The GOP Debate Before New Hampshire Votes

BuzzFeed News correspondents Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins reported from the debate in Manchester at Saint Anselm College.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Here's a lightning-quick recap:

* With the New Hampshire primary looming on Tuesday, the big story of the night was how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio seemingly couldn't capitalize on his strong showing in the Iowa caucuses.

* Rubio was seemingly thrown off by a withering attack from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who criticized the senator for resorting to the same rehearsed lines. Here's some analysis.

* Businessman Donald Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also mixed it up — but this time, Bush had his strongest showing against his chief antagonist.

* Trump otherwise has a quiet night, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucuses on Monday, put on a solid performance.

* The candidates were also asked about several issues in the news recently: the Zika virus, North Korea's attempted long-range missile launch, and paying ransom for U.S. hostages taken by ISIS.

* And in lighter moments, the candidates were asked about the Super Bowl and managed the most awkward, cringe-worthy introductions ever.

* The most recent New Hampshire poll, by UMass/7News on Saturday, has Trump at 35%, Rubio at 14%, Cruz at 13%, Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 10%, Bush at 10%, Christie at 4%, HP CEO Carly Fiorina at 3%, and neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 3%.

In case you missed it — or want to relive it — here's the full video of the debate:

View this video on YouTube

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OK, first thing first — behold the most awkward debate introductions in history:

View this video on YouTube

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And here's the play-by-play of cringe, which was set off by Carson.

Jeb, though, really owned that mess:

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Right out of the gate, Christie and Rubio got into a heated back-and-forth, with Christie seeming to rattle the senator.

.@ChrisChristie to @marcorubio: Being senator "does not prepare you for president of the United States" #GOPDebate https://t.co/0rI1Po7WDA

The tense interaction began when Rubio defended his potential to effectively lead as president, arguing that President Obama, whose experience was also a point of contention in the 2008 presidential election, "knows exactly what he's doing." (This is a change of language for Rubio. Read more here.)

Christie fired back, saying the Senator has never been "involved in a consequential decision where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven't."

Rubio accused the governor of not wanting to "go back" to New Jersey after it was hit by a snowstorm and pulling the state into financial turmoil.

The he mentioned Obama again:

Let's dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing. He is trying to change this country. He wants America to become more like the rest of the world. We don't want to be like the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America. And when I'm elected president, this will become once again, the single greatest nation in the history of the world, not the disaster Barack Obama has imposed upon us.

"The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech that is exactly what his advisers gave him," Christie shot back.

"Chris, your state got hit by a massive snowstorm two weeks ago," Rubio said. "You didn't even want to go back. They had to shame you into going back."

Then, Rubio mentioned Obama again:

Here's the bottom line. This notion that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing is just not true. He knows exactly what he's doing.

"There it is," said Christie. "There it is. The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody."

Then it devolved into this:


RUBIO: You didn't want to go back, Chris.

CHRISTIE: Oh, so -- wait a second. Is that one of the skills you get as a United States senator ESP also? Because I don't think it is.

RUBIO: Chris, everybody -- you said you weren't going to go back. He told everyone he wasn't going to go back. They had to shame him into going back. And when he decided to go back, he criticized the young lady, saying, what am I supposed to do, go back with a mop and clean up the flooding?

CHRISTIE: It gets very unruly when he gets off his talking points.

Here's more on that moment. And here's how BuzzFeed News' political reporters reacted to Rubio repeatedly criticizing Obama, even amid Christie's criticism:

Wait, did Rubio literally just deliver the exact same line twice within like 4 minutes?

Wow, Rubio is now delivering the same line for a third, and then fourth time. This is... bizarre.

just me or did Rubio seem a bit shook up?

Are we witnessing the end of #Marcomentum tonight?

It even gave birth to the Marco Rubio Glitch Twitter account.

Carson was asked about the ongoing controversy between him and Cruz over the Cruz campaign’s actions the night of the Iowa caucuses.

On the night of the Iowa caucuses, Cruz's campaign staff forwarded a CNN report to his supporters that said Carson would not be going to New Hampshire and South Carolina, implying that Carson was suspending his campaign.

Carson, though, said he would not attack his fellow Republican on stage.

"I'm not going to use this opportunity to savage the reputation of Ted Cruz. I will say I was disappointed that members of his team thought so little of me," Carson said.

Carson continued, "Unfortunately it did happen, it gives us a very good example of certain types of Washington ethics. Washington ethics basically says, if it's legal, you do what you need to do in order to win. That's not my ethics."

Cruz, in response, again apologized to Carson, and explained that his campaign staff's main failure was to not send a clarification that Carson was not dropping out of the race.

North Korea attempted to launch a long-range missile Sunday evening. Here's how some of the candidates said they would deal with a such a launch on their watch:

* Cruz — Harden electrical grid to protect from EMP attack and harden missile defense.

* Bush — Put the U.S. "back in the game." "If a preemptive strike is necessary to keep us safe, then we should do it."

* Kasich — Impose sanctions, increase missile defense.

* Trump — "I would get on with China, let China solve that problem."

* Rubio — Put North Korea back on the list of "terrorist nations," and leverage the U.S. relationship with China.

Bush and Trump really got into it over — wait for it — eminent domain, or the practice of the government taking private property for public use. It was one of Bush's most forceful moments of the entire campaign so far.

.@realDonaldTrump to @JebBush: "Let me talk. Quiet." https://t.co/VsDheVxG8V

Trump began by saying without eminent domain “you wouldn’t have roads, you wouldn’t have hospitals, you wouldn’t have schools...the Keystone pipeline without eminent domain, it wouldn’t go 10 feet.”

He added, “When eminent domain is used on someone’s property, that person gets a fortune….at least two to three times their" current property value.

But Bush quickly went on the attack — mentioning a legendary and long-standing feud, saying Trump “tried to use eminent domain to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City.”

Here's a primer on this issue.

Trump shot back, "Jeb wants to be a tough guy.”

Bush said Trump wanted to turn the woman's property into "a limousine parking lot" for his casino.

“How tough is it to take properly from an elderly woman?" Bush said.

Trump jumped in, “Let me talk, quiet" — drawing huge boos from the crowd.

Trump responded to the boos saying the people in the audience are Bush's “donors, special interests." That drew more boos. "The reason they’re not loving me," he said, "I don’t want their money and I don't need their money.”

Here are some of the ~key~ one-liners of the evening:

* "We need to grow more millionaires." —Bush

* "Our country is going to hell." —Trump

* "We're not going to let people die sitting in the middle of the street." —Trump on healthcare

* "I see now why they didn't want me on this stage. All talking points. No leadership." —Candidate Carly Fiorina, who wasn't invited to the debate

* "I would." —Rubio on whether or not he would visit a mosque

* "I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life." —Rubio on abortion

A bonus one-liner: Trump's views on waterboarding:

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Moderator Martha Raddatz asked Christie and Carson how they would handle the threat of the Zika virus, a disease spread by mosquitos and linked to severe birth defects.

.@RealBenCarson on #ZikaVirus: "We need rapid response." #GOPDebate https://t.co/AqBH7n8yP9

She pressed Christie on his decision to quarantine a nurse at Newark Airport during the Ebola scare in America. Christie defended his actions, saying he would make decisions to deal with infectious diseases "based upon the symptoms, the medicine, and the law."

Dr. Carson said he would quarantine people if there is evidence that they are infected and that the virus could spread, but said he wouldn't just "willy-nilly" quarantine people who spent time in a high-risk area.

"What we really need to be thinking about is how we get this disease under control," Carson said. "We needed rampant response for Ebola, we need rampant response for Zika."

Carson, at different points in the night, complained that he was being snubbed. Here's a rundown:

1) "Well, you know, when I wasn't introduced as No. 2, as was the plan, I thought maybe he thought I already had dropped out," Carson joked early on, referring to the messy debate entrance.

2) And when he was not asked about the North Korea missile launch: "You know, I was hoping to get a chance to talk about North Korea. I was the only one who didn't get to do that, and I've got stuff to say about it, let me tell you."

3) And, this gem, which needs no context: "I'm not here just to add beauty to the stage."

Both Cruz and Trump said they disagree with John and Diane Foley’s decision to raise ransom money for their son, journalist James Foley, who was kidnapped in 2012 by ISIS and beheaded in a video posted by the militant group.

The Foleys said the Obama Administration warned the family that it could face criminal charges for supporting terrorism.

Cruz said he recognizes the "agonizing experience" when a loved one has been kidnapped, but sending ransom money to terrorist kidnappers "effectively puts a bounty on American service men and women serving abroad" as well as American tourists.

Instead, "the proper approach is a president and commander in chief that goes after the terrorist rather than showing weakness."

Trump agreed, calling the family "tremendous," but adding "you cannot negotiate this way with terrorists."

"if you do," he said, "you will have many more James Foleys."

The candidates were also asked who will win Sunday's Super Bowl between the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos — with the idea that both teams play for important primary states:

* Kasich: Carolina

* Bush: Denver, because quarterback Peyton Manning wants him to win

* Rubio: Carolina, because of what Bush said

* Trump: Carolina

* Cruz: Carolina

* Carson: "Either Denver or Carolina"

* Christie: Denver

And finally, let's just sum everything up here:

why is this debate so deeply weird?

Here's some recent campaign coverage from BuzzFeed News:

Reporting by Leticia Miranda, Kyle Blaine, Jim Dalrymple II, and Tom Namako.

Contact BuzzFeed News at maggie.schultz+news@buzzfeed.com.

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