Highlights from the Fourth Republican “Primetime” Debate (November 10, 2015)

Hosted by the Fox Business Network and co-sponsored by The Wall Street Journal, the fourth GOP debate focused on jobs, taxes, and the economy. Since the last Republican debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, two more candidates — Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie — were moved down to the so-called “Undercard” debate due to low polling numbers. Only eight candidates then, a small number relative to the rest of this primary campaign — remained on the main stage in the fourth Republican prime time primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Rand Paul.


While Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz’s success in the last debate made them clear targets for the rest of their colleagues, recent revelations about Ben Carson’s award-winning memoir, Gifted Hands, made him an equally probable center of attention. Ultimately, Maco Rubio and Ted Cruz had solid nights, and Jeb Bush made a show of backbone — at least, enough of one to stay in the race. In case you missed it, here are our favorite highlights from last the November 10th debate:

Rand Paul on Marco Rubio’s Defense Plans

After Senator Rand Paul outlined two aspects of Marco Rubio’s tax plan that he said weren’t fiscally conservative enough — tax incentives to rebuild the nuclear family, and increased military spending — Rubio went on the defensive, calling Rand “a committed isolationist,” a charge seemingly meant to be an attack, though you wouldn’t know it from the ovation the remark received from the Wisconsin audience. Paul rebutted Rubio’s rebuttal, saying the U.S. needed to be safe “from bankruptcy court.” The exchange highlighted a meaningful divide within the party, especially with the rise of Rand Paul’s relative isolationism, and his father Ron Paul’s extreme stance on the same issue.

Ted Cruz Forgets His Agencies

Recalling the brutal moment in 2012 that spelled the end of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s campaign, Ted Cruz attempted to list the “five major agencies that [he] would eliminate” as president: “The IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy… the Department of Commerce, and HUD.” The only difference between Cruz’s performance and Perry’s — and it’s a major one — is Cruz’s composure through his own mistake: the former collegiate debater didn’t seem phased at all that he had forgotten a major component of his newly announced spending plan and, miraculously, neither did the live audience in attendance.

Ben Carson Defends His Story

A recent and controversial CNN investigation recently cast doubt on a few of the anecdotes in Ben Carson’s best-selling memoir Gifted Hands, which in many ways was his introduction to celebrity. Besides, you know, being the most gifted surgeon in America. Carson made sure to quash the report on stage, framing it as an attempt by the media to unfairly run his campaign into the ground. “I have no problem with being vetted,” he said. “What I do have a problem with is being lied about, and then putting that out there as truth.”

Rubio on Dodd Frank

Many are saying that the host of last night’s debate, the Fox Business Network, was the real winner of the night for successfully avoiding the anti-media attacks that punctuated the last Republican debate, hosted by their business news rival, CNBC. Marco Rubio’s detailed explanation of the need to repeal Dodd-Frank (it’s a burden to small businesses who can’t afford to keep up with complex regulations) was an example of this success: he focused on policy details and clearly defined his stance on a law that, too often, is just a misunderstood buzzword.

Trump and Kasich Debate Immigration

Take two candidates and pit them against each other on the most fundamental issues of their respective campaigns, and you’ll have a robust exchange. In this case, it was Donald Trump, on immigration, and John Kasich, on the need for pragmatic solutions over rhetoric. When Trump went through the foundation of his stump speech — that millions of undocumented immigrants need to be deported — Kasich saw his chance. He attacked Trump’s plan on its morality, calling it a “silly argument” and insisting that law-abiding undocumented immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. after paying a penalty. Trump cited Eisenhower in his response to Kasich. Trump asserted that Ike deported 1.5 million undocumented immigrants during his administration.

Fiorina on Vladamir Putin

It was a tense night for Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina: at one point, Trump called out the former Hewlett-Packard CEO for “interrupting” too much. Here, Fiorina poked fun at Trump’s meeting with Vladamir Putin — “in a green room for a show” — and said the U.S. shouldn’t take part in negotiations in which it doesn’t have the upper hand. Of course, Fiorina didn’t meet Putin before a television show, but she did meet him in a green room. And apparently, she was quite effusive.

Ted Cruz on Taxes

Ever the inspired orator, Ted Cruz again presented his tax plan to voters with some rhetorical embellishments — “There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible, and not a one of them is as good” — and then got to the point: Cruz’s plan would eliminate the payroll tax and the corporate income tax, abolishes the IRS, and graduates tax responsibilities according to income, contrary to the Biblical-like flat taxes from candidates like Ben Carson.