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RECAP: The Fourth GOP Presidential Debate

Watch the Best Moments from the Republican Debate 4:17

The NBC News political unit live-blogged the fourth Republican primetime presidential debate in Milwaukee, hosted by FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal.

If you missed the debate, you can catch up with all our coverage below, minute-by-minute.


11:17pmET: It's over. What did you think? Who had a good night? A bad night?

Here's what some folks on our team had to say:

11:11pmET: Closing statements:

  • Paul: "I'm the only fiscal conservative on the stage."
  • Kasich: "Wealth, connection, family: Americas's greatest days are ahead."
  • Fiorina: "A Clinton presidency will corrode the character of this nation. Why? The Clinton way."
  • Bush: "We don't need an agitator in chief. We don't need a divider in chief. We need a commander in chief."
  • Cruz: "We will win by following Ronald Reagan's admonition to paint in bold colors."
  • Rubio: "The 21st century can be a new American century."
  • Carson: "There is something special about this nation, and we must embrace it and never give it away for the sake of political correctness."
  • Trump: "I want to make our country greater than it's ever been."

11:07pmET: A Rubio adviser boasts on Twitter that the campaign has a new commitment from a financial backer.

11:05pmET: From NBC's Charlie Gile: Marco Rubio said that for the first time in 35 years, there are more businesses dying than starting. Those numbers are consistent with a Gallup poll from January. The same poll ranked the US 12th in the world in business startup activity. However, Politifact notes: "As recently as 2014, researchers came to that conclusion looking at Census Bureau data from 2009-11. That's the information Rubio likely relied on in making his claim. But more up-to-date Census information says the trend has reversed and that in 2012 and 2013, more businesses started then closed. The balance is very tight in 2013 and we don't have the numbers for 2014 or 2015."

11:03pmET: A question for Rand Paul on energy and climate change. Says he'd repeal Obama's energy regulations, including the Clean Power Act. Says man AND nature have a role in climate change.

10:59pmET: Rubio asked why voters should pick him over Hillary Clinton, considering the Democratic frontrunner's extensive political experience. "All their ideas are the same tired ideas of the past," he says of Democrats. "If I am the nominee, they will be the party of the past, we will be the part of the 21st century."

10:54pmET: From NBC'S Sally Bronston: Both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio criticized Dodd-Frank financial reform, claiming increased regulations are hurting small community banks. According to the Wall Street Journal, when it comes to the impact of Dodd-Frank on small banks: "the reality is more complicated." The WSJ notes compliance costs for small banks have gone up, but that "in some ways, community banks are the pictures of health" and "have expanded their lending faster than large financial firms."

10:52pmET: Kasich and Cruz getting into it over bailouts now. "I would not let the people who put their money in there go down," Kasich argues.

10:47pmET: Cruz takes a populist tack: "The rich do great with big government, they get in bed with big government." Says he would "absolutely not" bail out big banks.

Asked if he would let Bank of America fail if it were on the brink, Cruz says yes.

10:44pmET: Rubio: "In Dodd-Frank, you have actually codified too-big-to-fail. This is an outrage."

Kasich jumps in too: "I'll tell you about Wall Street. There's too much greed."

10:40pmET: Bush on Dodd-Frank. "My worry is that the real economy has been hurt by the overreach of the Obama administration." Adds that Clinton is "a captive of the left of her party" and wants to "double down" on the Obama banking reforms.

10:36pmET: Kasich is the latest candidate to bring up Hillary Clinton, saying Republicans shouldn't make "promises we can't keep" in the primary and then lose voters in the general election.

10:31pmET: Rubio chimes in: "I've never met Vladimir Putin, but I know enough about him to know that he's a gangster."

10:30pmET: Some boos for Trump as he complains about Fiorina's interruptions.

10:26pmET: Now Carly Fiorina digs at Trump: "I have met Putin, not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting."

Here's what The Daily Beast says about their 2001 meeting. "Fiorina met Putin for 45 minutes in a green room-type setting, during the 2001 APEC CEO Summit in Beijing, where they were both scheduled to deliver speeches."

10:25pmET: Jeb Bush jumps in, says that Trump is wrong on foreign policy. "Donald is wrong on this. We're not gonna be the world's policeman. But we are going to be the world's leader," Bush says. Calls Trump's strategy "like a boardgame. That's like playing Monopoly."

10:22pmET: Trump says that he and Putin were "stablemates" because they were on separate segments on the same episode of '60 Minutes'

NBC's Charlie Gile notes that Trump was interviewed in New York, while Putin was interviewed in Russia on that occasion, so they didn't share a green room.

10:21pmET: Jeb Bush again mentions Hillary Clinton - as well as President Obama - in his answer to a question about fighting ISIS.

10:18pmET: We're back from commercial break, and on to foreign policy. Carson asked whether or not he supports Obama's moves in Syria and Iraq. "I think in order to make them look like losers, we have to destroy their caliphate."

10:15pmET: From NBC's Sally Bronston: Ted Cruz explained the cost of his tax plan, citing numbers from the Tax Foundation: "…the static cost of the plan is $3.6 trillion over 10 years. But the dynamic cost of the plan, which is the cost that factors in growth, is about $768 billion, it is less than a trillion…" The Tax Foundation compares all of the candidates' released tax plans here.

10:11pmET: Now on to TPP. Trump calls it a "horrible" deal, says it helps China.

Here comes a fact-check from Rand Paul: "We might want to point out that China isn't a part of this deal."

Paul is right.

Trump shoots back that TPP doesn't mention Chinese currency manipulation. That's correct, too, notes NBC's Charlie Gile. Senate lawmakers called for TPP to address the issue but the language didn't make it into the agreement. In a September letter to Ambassador Michael Froman and Secretary Jack Lew, seven senators asked for TPP to include the currency manipulation issue. "We fear these recent currency interventions could lead to a pattern of competitive devaluation within the Asia-Pacific that could hurt U.S. workers and exports for years to come. Therefore, it is extremely important that TPP addresses currency issues in meaningful and concrete ways," the letter said.

10:09pmET: Trump fills an unusual role: Uniter! He jumps in to say that the tax plans of every GOP candidate on stage would be "better than the mess we have now."

10:05pmET: Cruz wants a piece of the military spending debate. "You think defending this country is expensive? Try not defending it!" Fiorina also trying to interject.

10:02pmET: Rand Paul and Marco Rubio scuffle over Rubio's tax plan. "How is it conservative to add a trillion dollar expenditure to the federal government" for the military, asks Paul? Rubio: "We can't even have an economy if we're not safe!" Rubio gets love from the crowd for his response.

Paul: "Can you be a conservative and be liberal on military spending?"

And Rubio calls Paul "a committed isolationist."

9:58pmET: Shades of a Rick Perry "oops" moment? Cruz names the five agencies he'd eliminate from the federal government, listing the Department of Commerce twice.

Was This Cruz's 'Oops' Moment? 0:21

9:56pmET: Ted Cruz: "There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible. And not one is as good."

9:54pmET: Rand Paul gets some applause for his common line: "I want government so small you can barely see it."

9:51pmET: Back from commercial break. Ben Carson is asked about his idea for a flat tax, which he's spoken about by referencing Biblical tithing. Moderator Neil Cavuto asks between Carson and Trump's plans, "which tax plan would God endorse?" Carson argues that "if you put more money in people's pockets, they will be more generous."

9:46pmET: Now on to questions about health care. Carly Fiorina: "Obamacare is crushing small businesses. It is not helping the families it's intended to help."

9:42pmET: From NBC's Dan Cooney: Ohio Gov. John Kasich said his state's unemployment rate has been cut in half. According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Ohio's unemployment rate in January 2011 - when Kasich took office - was 9.2 percent. The state's unemployment rate in September of this year (the latest available data) is 4.5 percent. Kasich is correct.

9:41pmET: Ted Cruz weighs in on the immigration conversation, calling it an "economic calamity" for those whose job opportunities and wages are impacted by undocumented workers. Jokes that media would cover the issue differently if immigrants were driving down the salaries of journalists.

9:38pmET: From NBC's Sally Bronston: While hitting Hillary Clinton for rating President Obama's job on the economy an "A", Jeb Bush said: "1 in 7 people are living in poverty - that's not an 'A'. 1 in 5 children are on food stamps. That is not an 'A'. It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it's not the best America can do." Those statistics Bush cites are backed up by the U.S. Census Bureau - in 2014, 14.8% of Americans were living in poverty, and about 16 million children received food stamp assistance.

9:37pmET: A Kasich vs. Trump dynamic is swiftly developing.

9:35pmET: Oohs and laughter as Trump jabs Bush, telling Kasich:"You should let Jeb speak."

"Thank you for letting me speak at the debate. What a generous man you are," Bush shoots back at moderator.

Jeb Bush retorts that the Clinton campaign is "doing high fives" when they hear about GOP plans for mass deportation.

9:33pmET: Now to immigration. Trump reiterates his call for a border wall. "We either have a country or we don't."

Kasich shoots back on the problems of mass deportation: "Think about the families! Think about the children! ... It's a silly argument!"

Trump, Kasich Trade Jabs at Debate 1:20

9:29pmET: Carson gets a question on the series of recent reports questioning details of his personal biography.

"Thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade," he jokes first, in a clear poke at media outlets that delved into details of his childhood and college years.

Carson says he doesn't mind being vetted: "But what I do have a problem with is being lied about... People who know me know that I'm an honest person." Compares his own story to Clinton and her Benghazi testimony.

Carson Defends His Past at Debate 0:47

9:25pmET: First question to Rand Paul is on income inequality. "If you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor," he says.

9:23pmET: Fiorina gets a good response from the crowd for her answer on job creation: "We must take our government back."

9:20pmET: Bush lists off Obama rules he'd like to see repealed. He needs an energetic and confident performance tonight to ease supporters' worries about his listless appearances in the previous debates.

9:18pmET: Jeb Bush, who got little speaking time in the last debate, interjects. "I'd like my turn," he says, noting he "only got four minutes" in the previous debate.

9:16pmET: Ted Cruz, in his first answer, touts his new plans for cutting government spending.

9:12pmET: John Kasich gets a question on balancing the budget. Pivots first to note that he's the only sitting governor on stage (true because Christie and Jindal were relegated to the undercard debate.)

9:10pmET: Next question to Marco Rubio: "In the 21st century, it's a disaster" to raise the minimum wage, he says. Also touts plans to increase vocational training. "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers."

9:04pmET: And... we're off! First question is on Democratic support for a $15/hour minimum wage.

Donald Trump says he can't support: "Taxes too high, wages too high, we're not going to be able to compete against the world."

Ben Carson: "Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases." Argues that's particularly true in the black community.

NBC's Dan Cooney notes that Carson hasn't always said he definitely wouldn't raise the minimum wage. During an interview in May, he told CNBC's John Harwood that the minimum wage should "probably" be higher. You can watch that interview here.

8:59pmET: As he did before the last GOP debate, Ted Cruz has unveiled a new policy plan in the moments before taking the stage. In National Review, he proposes a sweeping plan to abolish the IRS and four other cabinet agencies. You can check it out here.

8:52pmET: In the audience tonight: former presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and newly-minted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who gets huge applause as he's introduced before the debate begins.

8:45pm ET: Viewers of Fox Business Network waiting for the debate got a peek at this new ad from a pro-Rubio group called "Baby Got PAC."

8:30pmET: The 7pm undercard debate is in the books, and we're waiting for the primetime event to begin.

In the earlier debate, four lower-polling candidates - Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum - squared off.

Christie, who made the cut for the previous three primetime debates but had suffered from sinking poll numbers, filled the role of frontrunner in the undercard clash.

You can read full coverage of that debate from NBC's Andrew Rafferty here.

And Msnbc.com's Benjy Sarlin notes that the candidates warred over electability versus purity in the GOP field.