GOP candidates just duked it out in the early Republican debate -- here are all the highlights

The second round of Republican presidential debates were held on Wednesday at the Reagan Presidential Library in California, airing on CNN.

The so-called “undercard match” featured just four candidates. Here’s a look at how they have been polling:

  • Rick Santorum, former US senator from Pennsylvania: 1.0%(down from 1.3% before the August 6 debate)
  • Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor: 0.3% (down from 1.5%)
  • Lindsey Graham, US senator from South Carolina: 0.2% (down from 0.5%)
  • George Pataki, former New York governor: N/A

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Lindsey Graham and Rick Santorum argued about their immigration records, with Graham saying “Hispanics are American” but also saying that all immigrants should speak English.
  • Graham, emerging as the winner of the debate, also emerges as the most hawkish candidate. “We’re going to kill every one of these bastards we can find, ’cause if we don’t, they are coming here,” Graham said about fighting ISIS.
  • Bobby Jindal said the situation of Ahmed Mohamed — a 14-year-old who was arrested for bringing a clock he built to school because local officials thought it was a bomb — isn’t as big a deal as the discrimination faced by Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
  • Santorum compared his support of Kim Davis to Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against segregation, invoking MLK’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” which drew a difference between “just law” and “unjust law.” Santorum implied the Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage was “unjust.”
  • Pataki’s biggest moment was saying he’d fire Kim Davis if he were president: “I think she should have been fired, and if she worked for me, I would have fired her … There is a place where religion supersedes the rule of law. That place is called Iran.”
  • Graham said he’d like to work more with Democrats: “That’s the first thing I’ll do as president. We’ll drink more.”

Tonight, CNN is allowing 11 candidates on their main stage, adding former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina to join the same 10 candidates from the previous debate.

Former Texas governor Rick Perry dropped out of the race last week, and CNN didn’t invite former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore to the debate because he couldn’t get an average of more than 1% in three or more national polls in the past month. (He said he’ll be live-tweeting it himself.)

The debate was be moderated by CNN correspondents Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, as well as conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Here are the best moments from our live-blog of the first debate on Wednesday:

7:46 p.m. — For the last question of the debate, Tapper asks each candidate to distinguish themselves from the candidates who made it to the top debate. Here are their key ideas:

Pataki: You need a candidate who can get laws passed through. I did that. I was a conservative governor in one of the most liberal states in America.

Santorum: You need a candidate who will shake things up … I made things happen in a town where things don’t happen very much.

Jindal: Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts across this country, and the senate Republicans have given up … It’s time to take on the DC permanent governing class.

Graham: The military is in decline … What do I offer? A vision to make this country strong again, and fight a war we cannot lose.

7:30 p.m. — Tapper asks the candidates about how they will deal with Vladimir Putin, who has sent troops in Syria to support Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the president of Syria, who has ordered the death of hundreds of thousands in this country’s civil war. Graham says Obama’s weakness enabled Putin to support Assad.

“We’re going in the ground, and we’re going to destroy the caliphate, and we’re going to take them out by their roots,” Graham says.

7:27 p.m. — The conversation turns back to the Iran Deal. The candidates focus on what they say would be harm to Israel because of the deal. Graham says releasing American citizens from Iranian prisons should have been a condition of the Iran deal.

“If you can give me $US100 billion, I can get anyone out of jail,” Graham said. “We couldn’t even get our hostages out of jail.”

7:20 p.m. — Santorum proposes a higher minimum wage, an increase of 50 cents over three years, substantially less than the $US3 raise Obama proposed a year ago.

7:10 p.m. — Graham says he’d like to work more with Democrats, referencing the Reagan Tip O’Neill drinking sessions, and says he was right for praising Hillary Clinton.

“That’s the first thing I’ll do as president. We’ll drink more,” Graham said.

7:05 p.m. — Jindal says that he’ll appoint conservative judges, and subtweets Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s new book on the use of international law when deciding American law, “The Court and the World.”

“I’m not going to appoint judges that listen to international law,” Jindal says.

7:03 p.m. — After the commercial break, the debate continues with Kim Davis. Santorum proposes the “First Amendment Defence Act,” to support those who oppose the law for religious reasons.

“You cannot pick and choose, or you no longer have a society that runs by rule of law,” Pataki says.

Santorum compares his fight to Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight against segregation, invoking his “Letter From Birmingham Jail, who drew a difference between “just law” and “unjust law.”

“America did not create religious liberty; religious liberty created the United States of America,” Santorum said.

Graham says a cursory knowledge of the law references Marbury v. Madison, which established judicial review.

6:51 p.m. — Tapper asks the candidates about striking a balance between vigilance and discrimination, referencing Ahmed Mohamed, who was arrested for bringing a clock he made to school because local authorities believed it was a bomb.

“I don’t think a 14-year-old should ever get arrested for bringing a clock to school,” Jindal says. “The biggest discrimination is against Christian business-owners who disagree with gay marriage.”

Pataki compares the situation to that of Kim Davis, who refused to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying her approach was absurd.

“I think she should have been fired, and if she worked for me, I would have fired her,” Pataki says. “There is a place where religion supersedes the rule of law. That place is called Iran.”

6:47 p.m. — Now the conversation turns back to fighting ISIS in the middle east. Graham, Santorum, and Jindal, all say they will send ground troops. Patacki isn’t given time to say whether or not he would.

“We’re going to kill every one of these bastards we can find, ’cause if we don’t, they are coming here,” Graham says.

6:43 p.m. — Graham and Santorum have a tense back-and-forth over immigration policy, where Graham touts his Senate record, says immigrants need to learn English, and bashes Santorum’s failed immigration bill from 2006. Their exchange went something like this:

Graham: I like Rick. I don’t remember the Santorum plan when I was in the Senate. The peanut gallery is interesting … You gotta learn our language [English]. I don’t speak it very well, but I’m here.

Santorum: I did have a plan, back in 2006.

Graham: How many Democrats supported your bill?

Santorum: I don’t know how many.

Graham: I can tell you, zero.

Santorum: The people who are hurt most by illegal immigration are American.

Graham: In my world, Hispanics are American.

6:36 p.m. — The conversation turns to Trump’s favourite topic: immigration.

“Immigration without assimilation is invasion,” Jindal says.

“American workers are getting hurt by immigration, and that’s why they’re upset,” Santorum says.

6:30 p.m. — Lindsey Graham insists that one of the biggest issues should be fighting the Islamic State. He dares Jake Tapper to ask every candidate this question:

“Are you willing to send ground troops into Syria? Because if we don’t, we’ll never destroy ISIL. Anybody who isn’t prepared to do that isn’t prepared to be commander-in-chief.”

6:27 p.m. — CNN’s first five questions are all about Donald Trump. Bobby Jindal blasts Trump for not keeping with the conservative principles that Reagan supported, and touts his own social conservatism.

“Let’s stop treating Donald Trump like a Republican. … He believes in Donald Trump,” Jindal said. “He’s more worried about Twinkies than he is about the Ayatollah having nuclear weapons.”

p.m. — Lindsey Graham thanks CNN for inviting an audience to the debate (Fox didn’t have an audience at the first one), and says he has the best foreign policy record among all candidates.

“Thanks CNN for having people at this debate,” Graham said, to applause.

6:23 p.m. — Rick Santorum opens up with his conservative record and criticises Obama for the Iran Deal.

“Some of you may know me because I passed sanctions against Iran,” Santorum said.

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