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Best Tweets Of The Charleston GOP Debate

Twitter called last night’s event the best GOP debate yet.


Ten Republican candidates for president gathered in North Charleston, South Carolina, for their sixth debate last night. Interest in the early “undercard” debate was even more muted than it had been on previous nights.

The debate, originally designed for four candidates, diminish even further when Rand Paul declined to participate. Instead, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum got the hour to themselves. Fiorina started the night with some fireworks:

Huckabee dropped some old pop culture references:

Santorum tried to match Fiorina in volume, if not intensity.

It ended with some questionable advice to the viewers.

None of the three were terrible, but as much talk was about the absent candidates.

In the main event were the candidates ranked in the top seven: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, and Donald Trump. After opening statements, the talk quickly turned to a New York Times story about a loan Cruz took out in 2012, and whether it was properly disclosed:

His reply resembled a Nixon speech from the 1952 campaign.

Or did it?

Next, Cruz addressed his eligibility for the presidency despite his Canadian birthplace. He took the originator of the attacks, Donald Trump, to the constitutional law woodshed.

Cruz noted that the most extreme birther arguments would shed doubt on even Trump’s eligibility, as he is the son of a Scotland-born mother:

The crowd turned on the frontrunner, and not for the last time that night.

The focus stayed on Trump as the moderators questioned the idea that he was the angriest candidate. Trump didn’t deny it. Some thought it played well.

Others thought he sounded sinister.

By this time, other candidates were struggling for air time, and worked to jump in if their name was mentioned.

Or, in Carson’s case, even alluded to.

Carson later got a question about whether Bill Clinton’s past was fair game in the campaign against his wife:

He answered by talking about…incivility on the Internet?

Next, the moderators asked about the Second Amendment. Rubio and Bush took advantage of their first time in the spotlight that night.

Rubio followed with an attack on Christie for campaigning on a platform inconsistent with the positions he took as a candidate for governor. Christie fired back resolutely.

As in earlier debates, the moderators sought to start an argument between Cruz and Trump, the two frontrunners in the Iowa polls. This time, it worked. Cruz defended his stump speech mention of Trump’s “New York values,” and Trump hit back convincingly.

Trump was then given a chance to modify his campaign trail pronouncement that he would ban all Muslims from entering the United States. He declined.

He colorfully alluded to the Jakarta bombings as proof of the need for a ban.

Bush disagreed, and held his own in the exchange.

Then the talk turned to tariffs, where Trump was accused of wanting to resurrect the GOP’s protectionism of the nineteenth-century. He denied it…sort of.

Rubio countered with the point that tariffs make goods more expensive, hurting the average American.

Jeb joined his former protégé, but Trump stood fast on the point.

Carson got a question about corporate tax inversions.

While on the subject of taxes, Cruz’s tax proposals came up. Rubio insisted it was a value-added tax. Cruz disagreed. It got semantic.

Even the name of the VAT was disputed. One the one hand:

But then again:

Finally, the evening concluded with a Rubio-Cruz showdown. Rubio called Cruz a flip-flopper, and had some points to back it up.

Cruz responded, but Rubio had won over the crowd.

With the closing statements, the debate coasted to a stop.

There was a lot of back-and-forth over a variety of topics. For the first time in a while, it feels right to say this.