The top 10 Republican presidential candidates are squaring off Wednesday night in the third GOP presidential debate of the cycle.
The debate, which will run until around 10 p.m. EST, is focusing primarily on the economy and fiscal issues.
Here’s who qualified for the debate, and where each candidate stands in the polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average of five recent national polls:
- Donald Trump, real-estate magnate: 26.8% average as of Wednesday (down from a 29.8% average before the September debate)
- Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon: 22% (up from 17.8%)
- Marco Rubio, US senator from Florida: 9% (up from 5.8%)
- Jeb Bush, former Florida governor: 7% (down from 7.8%)
- Ted Cruz, US senator from Texas: 6.6% (down from 6.7%)
- Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO: 5.8% (up from 4.3%)
- Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor: 3.8% (down from 4.3%)
- Rand Paul, US senator from Kentucky: 3.4% (up from 2.7%)
- John Kasich, Ohio governor: 2.6% (down from 3.5%)
- Chris Christie, New Jersey governor: 2.4% (up from 2.0%)
Read the live blog below, and check back for frequent updates:
9:28 p.m. — Rubio continued to criticise the media, racking up major applause lines for hitting the media for its supposed liberal bias.
“The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media,” Rubio said.
9:25 p.m. — CNBC moderator Becky Quick asked about Trump’s criticism of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s push for immigration reform. Trump denied ever criticising Zuckerberg.
“I don’t know, you people write this stuff,” Trump said.
9:18 p.m. — CNBC Carl Quintanilla pressed Carson on his connection to an embattled nutritional supplement maker, noting that Carson’s face was on the homepage, along with the company’s logo. The audience was not pleased.
“Does that not speak to your vetting process or judgment in any way?” Quintanilla said, as the audience booed.
“See? They know,” Carson said. The audience erupted in cheers.
9:10 p.m. — Rubio deflected questions about the liquidation of his retirement savings account, saying that he had to because he didn’t inherit any money, and had to pay off student loans while raising his family.
“I’m not worried about my finances, I’m worried about the finances of everyday Americans,” Rubio said.
When Becky Quick brought up that Rubio made the decision despite a “windfall” of income, the senator interjected.
“It is available on paperback,” Rubio said, referencing the profits he made from one of his books.
9:05 p.m. — When asked if he would vote for a bi-partisan spending deal that would include some spending cuts with a low proportion of tax increases, Bush dodged the question, saying that it would never happen with Democrats in Congress.
“Find a Democrat that’s willing to cut $US10 in spending, I’ll give them a warm kiss,” Bush said.
8:53 p.m. — When asked to respond to a spat between Christie and Huckabee about reforming Social Security, Cruz began with a wisecrack about marijuana-laced brownies.
“I’ll buy you a tequila,” Cruz said to one of the CNBC moderators. “Or one of those famous Colorado brownies.”
8:53 p.m. — Huckabee and Christie got into a back-and-forth over Social Security reform, an issue which the two have publicly criticised each other over.
“This is a matter not of maths: This is a matter of morality,” Huckabee said. “If this country does not keep its promise to seniors, then what promise can this country hope to keep?”
“The only way we are going to be moral…is to look at them and treat them like adults,” said Christie, who has suggested raising the retirement age and cutting benefits for some higher-income seniors.
8:48 p.m. — Cruz criticised the CNBC moderators for supposedly not focusing enough on policies, eliciting the biggest applause line of the night.
8:40 p.m. — Bush criticised Rubio for missing votes, asking if a week in Congress was like a “French work week.”
“You can campaign, or just resign and let someone else take the job,” Bush said.
Rubio, in response, pointed out that Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), whose 2008 bid Bush has modelled his campaign after, missed a high number of votes.
“You know how many votes John McCain missed when he carrying out that furious comeback that you’re now modelling [your campaign] after? Let me tell you: I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” Rubio said.
“The only reason that you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
8:37 p.m. — Asked about having one of the worst attendance records in the US Senate, Rubio said that this is an argument made by establishment Republicans.
“They say ‘Wait in line.’ Wait for what?” Rubio said.
8:31 p.m. — Trump immediately hit back at Kasich, noting Kasich’s record as a banker at Lehman Brothers, and criticising the governor for shifting tactics as his poll numbers has dipped.
“He was such a nice guy and he said ‘Oh, I’m never going to attack,’ but then his poll numbers tanked, and then he got nasty,” Trump said.
8:28 p.m. — Kasich touted his role in helping balance the federal budget while serving in the 1990’s, the Ohio governor slammed Carson’s tax plan as a “fantasy,” and reiterated his attacks on Trump’s immigration plan.
“This is the fantasy I talked about in the beginning,” Kasich said.
“I’m realistic. You just don’t make promises like that.”
8:21 p.m. — Answering a question about his greatest weakness, Cruz joked that he was “too agreeable.”
“I’m too agreeable, easy going,” Cruz said, garnering a laugh from the crowd. “My biggest weakness is just the contrary.”
“If you want someone to grab a beer, I may not be that guy,” Cruz said. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I can be that guy.”
8:18 p.m. — Kasich came out swinging immediately against Trump during the first moment in the debate, referencing Trump’s immigration plan, which proposes 11 million immigrants living in the US illegally.
“We’re on the verge of picking someone who can’t do this job,” Kasich said, an obvious jab at Trump.
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