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Republican Debate: Candidates Collide in South Carolina Showdown

Seven Republican candidates met for the sixth GOP presidential debate Thursday night, a high-stakes clash that featured harsh exchanges between frontrunners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump and bare-knuckle attacks from most of the other five candidates on stage.

If you missed the debate, you can catch up with the recap from our NBC News live-blog, which brought you all the big moments and expert analysis as it happened.

Live Blog: Republican Debate

Carly Fiorina says Hillary Clinton should be thrown in jail.

"The woman should be prosecuted," Fiorina said.

The remark came during a colorful tirade that began with a comparison between Clinton and Joaquin Guzman, the notorious Mexican drug lord:

"Here is the deal. Hillary Clinton has been climbing the ladder to try and get in -- get power. And here now she is trying for the White House. She's probably more qualified for the big house, honestly" Fiorina said. "She's escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo. Perhaps Sean Penn should interview her. The woman should be prosecuted."

Fiorina did not say what Clinton should be prosecuted for, but she earlier criticized Clinton for her handling of the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Fiorina has also been a critic of Clinton's handling of the controversy over her home-brew email system as Secretary of State.

Fiorina Takes a Swipe at Clinton During Debate 0:36

Carly Fiorina says Hillary Clinton should be thrown in jail.

"The woman should be prosecuted," Fiorina said.

The remark came during a colorful tirade that began with a comparison between Clinton and Joaquin Guzman, the notorious Mexican drug lord:

"Here is the deal. Hillary Clinton has been climbing the ladder to try and get in -- get power. And here now she is trying for the White House. She's probably more qualified for the big house, honestly" Fiorina said. "She's escaped prosecution more times than El Chapo. Perhaps Sean Penn should interview her. The woman should be prosecuted."

Fiorina did not say what Clinton should be prosecuted for, but she earlier criticized Clinton for her handling of the 2012 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Fiorina has also been a critic of Clinton's handling of the controversy over her home-brew email system as Secretary of State.

Carrie Dann

So, what did we learn?

Here's expert analysis from top NBC News talent and from around the Twittersphere.

Cruz's struggles under attack

The battle for 140 characters

How do you solve a problem like The Donald?

Some missed opportunities?

A "mantle of anger"

So, what did we learn?

Here's expert analysis from top NBC News talent and from around the Twittersphere.

Cruz's struggles under attack

The battle for 140 characters

How do you solve a problem like The Donald?

Some missed opportunities?

A "mantle of anger"

Cruz Pounces on Trump Over Birther Controversy 1:07
Carrie Dann

Closing statements, the Cliffs Notes

Each candidate gave a closing statement at the conclusion of the debate. Here's the gist of each argument.

  • Kasich: "All of my career, I've thought about giving voice to the people I grew up with and the people who elected me... I will continue to fight for you, because you're the ones that built our country and will carry it into the future."
  • Bush: "Who can you count on to make us safer, stronger and freer? .... I ask for your support to build together a safer and stronger America."
  • Christie: "We need someone who can get up on that stage in September and fight Hillary Clinton and make sure she never, ever gets into the White House again. I'm the man who can bring us together to do that. "
  • Carson: "We are not going to solve this problem with politics. We are going to solve it with We the People."
  • Rubio: "This country is changing. It feels different. It feels like we are being left out... If we elect the right person, if you elect me, we will turn this country around, we will reclaim the American Dream"
  • Cruz: "'13 Hours.' Tomorrow morning, a new movie will debut about the incredible bravery of the men fighting for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians who abandoned them... I will have your back."
  • Trump: "If I'm president, there won't be stupid deals anymore. We will make America great again. We will win with everything we do."

Closing statements, the Cliffs Notes

Candidates or Comedians? See Funny Moments from the GOP Debate 1:27

Each candidate gave a closing statement at the conclusion of the debate. Here's the gist of each argument.

  • Kasich: "All of my career, I've thought about giving voice to the people I grew up with and the people who elected me... I will continue to fight for you, because you're the ones that built our country and will carry it into the future."
  • Bush: "Who can you count on to make us safer, stronger and freer? .... I ask for your support to build together a safer and stronger America."
  • Christie: "We need someone who can get up on that stage in September and fight Hillary Clinton and make sure she never, ever gets into the White House again. I'm the man who can bring us together to do that. "
  • Carson: "We are not going to solve this problem with politics. We are going to solve it with We the People."
  • Rubio: "This country is changing. It feels different. It feels like we are being left out... If we elect the right person, if you elect me, we will turn this country around, we will reclaim the American Dream"
  • Cruz: "'13 Hours.' Tomorrow morning, a new movie will debut about the incredible bravery of the men fighting for their lives in Benghazi and the politicians who abandoned them... I will have your back."
  • Trump: "If I'm president, there won't be stupid deals anymore. We will make America great again. We will win with everything we do."
Leigh Ann Caldwell

On Cybersecurity, 'This Administration Has Failed'

Bush was asked about cybersecurity and Bush said "This administration has failed us completely."

Bush called the issue extremely important and that he called for a way to decipher encryption. The moderators pushed and asked if he would demand it from private companies or ask for it. He said, "Well if the law wouldn't change, yeah. I think there has to be recognition that if we're too punitive then you'll go to other technology companies outside of the united states."

On Cybersecurity, 'This Administration Has Failed'

Bush was asked about cybersecurity and Bush said "This administration has failed us completely."

Bush called the issue extremely important and that he called for a way to decipher encryption. The moderators pushed and asked if he would demand it from private companies or ask for it. He said, "Well if the law wouldn't change, yeah. I think there has to be recognition that if we're too punitive then you'll go to other technology companies outside of the united states."

Andrew Rafferty

Cruz, Rubio feud gets nasty

Cruz, Rubio feud gets nasty

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz continued their feud over immigration late into Thursday's debate before both senators went on the offensive on a variety of topics.

Rubio defended his work on a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, saying the world was a different place when he was working on the failed legislation in 2013.

"You did not have a group of radical crazies called ISIS," Rubio said.

"Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago," Cruz responded.

The fight that ensued quickly moved on from immigration. Rubio said Cruz approved of Edward Snowden and voted to slash the military budget before moderators told the candidates they had to move on.

"He had no fewer than 11 attacks there. I appreciate you dumping your oppo research on the debate," Cruz said, before defending himself against a number of Rubio's attacks.

"This explains why we have the problems that we have in Washington, D.C.," Bush said after.

Cruz, Rubio feud gets nasty

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz continued their feud over immigration late into Thursday's debate before both senators went on the offensive on a variety of topics.

Rubio defended his work on a bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill, saying the world was a different place when he was working on the failed legislation in 2013.

"You did not have a group of radical crazies called ISIS," Rubio said.

"Radical Islamic terrorism was not invented 24 months ago," Cruz responded.

The fight that ensued quickly moved on from immigration. Rubio said Cruz approved of Edward Snowden and voted to slash the military budget before moderators told the candidates they had to move on.

"He had no fewer than 11 attacks there. I appreciate you dumping your oppo research on the debate," Cruz said, before defending himself against a number of Rubio's attacks.

"This explains why we have the problems that we have in Washington, D.C.," Bush said after.

Carrie Dann

Christie says Obama "believes law enforcement are the bad guys"

A heated charge from Chris Christie against the sitting president: "The president of the United States and both his attorneys general, they give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal, not the police officer. That's the truth."

And more: "This is a guy who just believes that law enforcement are the bad guys."

Christie says Obama "believes law enforcement are the bad guys"

A heated charge from Chris Christie against the sitting president: "The president of the United States and both his attorneys general, they give the benefit of the doubt to the criminal, not the police officer. That's the truth."

And more: "This is a guy who just believes that law enforcement are the bad guys."

Andrew Rafferty

Christie jumps on chance to talk entitlement reform

Christie jumps on chance to talk entitlement reform

A question about entitlement reform turned into a spat between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz over taxes. But for Chris Christie, it was an opportunity.

"The reason why no one wants to answer the entitlement question is because it's a hard one," Christie said.

Rubio tried to chime in, saying he would be happy to talk about reforming Social Security.

"You already had your chance Marco, you blew it," Christie shot back.

The New Jersey governor has campaigned throughout New Hampshire on the "Tell It Like It Is Tour." He was one of the first candidates to introduce a plan to reform Social Security, and has touted his willingness to take on politically divisive issues he says his rivals are afraid to touch.

Christie jumps on chance to talk entitlement reform

A question about entitlement reform turned into a spat between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz over taxes. But for Chris Christie, it was an opportunity.

"The reason why no one wants to answer the entitlement question is because it's a hard one," Christie said.

Rubio tried to chime in, saying he would be happy to talk about reforming Social Security.

"You already had your chance Marco, you blew it," Christie shot back.

The New Jersey governor has campaigned throughout New Hampshire on the "Tell It Like It Is Tour." He was one of the first candidates to introduce a plan to reform Social Security, and has touted his willingness to take on politically divisive issues he says his rivals are afraid to touch.

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Trump 'Could Care Less' About His Company

Trump was asked what he would do with his business should he be president. "I could care less about my company," he said.

He turns to his family in the audience and says, "Run my company kids. Have a good time. I'm gonna do it for america."

Trump 'Could Care Less' About His Company

Trump was asked what he would do with his business should he be president. "I could care less about my company," he said.

He turns to his family in the audience and says, "Run my company kids. Have a good time. I'm gonna do it for america."

Carrie Dann

Rubio and Cruz clash over taxes, VAT

Rubio and Cruz sparred over taxes, with Rubio referencing Reagan and calling Cruz's plan a "blindfold" to hide costs.

"It is a tax you find in many countries in Europe," he added, labeling Cruz's plan a VAT (value added tax)

Cruz returned fire, calling his plan a "business flat tax" instead and saying "Marco's top tax rate is 35 percent" -- much higher than his 10 percent flat tax.

Rubio and Cruz clash over taxes, VAT

Rubio and Cruz sparred over taxes, with Rubio referencing Reagan and calling Cruz's plan a "blindfold" to hide costs.

"It is a tax you find in many countries in Europe," he added, labeling Cruz's plan a VAT (value added tax)

Cruz returned fire, calling his plan a "business flat tax" instead and saying "Marco's top tax rate is 35 percent" -- much higher than his 10 percent flat tax.

Carrie Dann

Christie gets a question about bridges -- but not THAT bridge

This must be the happiest Chris Christie has been to get a question about bridges since the Fort Lee controversy exploded into headlines.

Fox Business asked him about tax reform and funding infrastructure repair on roads and bridges.

The irony was not lost on Twitter users.

Christie gets a question about bridges -- but not THAT bridge

This must be the happiest Chris Christie has been to get a question about bridges since the Fort Lee controversy exploded into headlines.

Fox Business asked him about tax reform and funding infrastructure repair on roads and bridges.

The irony was not lost on Twitter users.

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Trump And Bush Spar over Tariffs

Debate is still focused on China and trade. Kasich, who governs Ohio, a manufacturing state, said he wants rules to ensure protections for American workers.

"Let's demand open trade but fair trade," he said.

Rubio then got into the conversation, rebuking Trump who wants to impose heavy tariffs against China. Rubio said, "We need to be very careful with tariffs" because the cost will be passed on to the American consumer.

The moderators agreed with Rubio and asked Trump about the cost impact of tariffs, which Trump said wouldn't happen because China will cave and "let their currency go up."

Bush becomes engaged in the conversation, saying the risk is too high for tariffs and that "someone with a steady hand to be president of the United States."

Trump didn't take that to well, hitting Bush right back.

"We don't a need a weak person to be president of the U.S.; we don't need Jeb," Trump said.

The crowd booed.

Trump And Bush Spar over Tariffs

Debate is still focused on China and trade. Kasich, who governs Ohio, a manufacturing state, said he wants rules to ensure protections for American workers.

"Let's demand open trade but fair trade," he said.

Rubio then got into the conversation, rebuking Trump who wants to impose heavy tariffs against China. Rubio said, "We need to be very careful with tariffs" because the cost will be passed on to the American consumer.

The moderators agreed with Rubio and asked Trump about the cost impact of tariffs, which Trump said wouldn't happen because China will cave and "let their currency go up."

Bush becomes engaged in the conversation, saying the risk is too high for tariffs and that "someone with a steady hand to be president of the United States."

Trump didn't take that to well, hitting Bush right back.

"We don't a need a weak person to be president of the U.S.; we don't need Jeb," Trump said.

The crowd booed.

Andrew Rafferty

Trump: 'I know so much about trade with China'

Trump: 'I know so much about trade with China'

Donald Trump aggressively disputed a New York Times report saying he could favor a whopping 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the U.S.

"It's the New York Times, they're always wrong," Trump said when asked about the number.

Trump later said he is "not saying we do it," but that the country has been treating the U.S. unfairly by manipulating its currency for years.

"I would certainly start taxing goods coming in from China," Trump said.

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush quickly pointed out that tariffs would boost prices for U.S. consumers. Each of the candidates said the president has been pushed around by the economic powerhouse.

"I know so much about trade with China," Trump said.

Trump: 'I know so much about trade with China'

Donald Trump aggressively disputed a New York Times report saying he could favor a whopping 45 percent tariff on Chinese exports to the U.S.

"It's the New York Times, they're always wrong," Trump said when asked about the number.

Trump later said he is "not saying we do it," but that the country has been treating the U.S. unfairly by manipulating its currency for years.

"I would certainly start taxing goods coming in from China," Trump said.

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush quickly pointed out that tariffs would boost prices for U.S. consumers. Each of the candidates said the president has been pushed around by the economic powerhouse.

"I know so much about trade with China," Trump said.

Carrie Dann

The rest of the field addresses the Muslim ban

Moderators pressed the rest of the field on the Muslim ban question, too:

Kasich said he supports a pause on Syrian refugees but that not all Muslims should be lumped together.

And Christie reiterated that he, too, wants no Syrian refugees. "We're not going to keep everybody out, we're going to keep the bad ones out."

Cruz added that he understands why Trump introduced the idea of a ban but then pivoted to his national security proposals and his legislation to prevent refugees controlled by ISIS or al Qaeda.

Carson's plan: To get "a group of experts together" to come up with new immigration guidelines.

So no one is really full-throatedly backing Trump.

The rest of the field addresses the Muslim ban

Moderators pressed the rest of the field on the Muslim ban question, too:

Kasich said he supports a pause on Syrian refugees but that not all Muslims should be lumped together.

And Christie reiterated that he, too, wants no Syrian refugees. "We're not going to keep everybody out, we're going to keep the bad ones out."

Cruz added that he understands why Trump introduced the idea of a ban but then pivoted to his national security proposals and his legislation to prevent refugees controlled by ISIS or al Qaeda.

Carson's plan: To get "a group of experts together" to come up with new immigration guidelines.

So no one is really full-throatedly backing Trump.

Carrie Dann

Head vs. heart on Muslim ban

Asked if he could reconsider his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, Trump gave a flat "no."

"We have to stop with political correctness. We have to create a country that does not have the problems that we have had," he said, referencing the 9/11 attacks and the San Bernardino shootings.

"My Muslim friends, some, said 'thank you very much,'" he added.

MSNBC has more on this episode.

But Jeb Bush jumped in to challenge him, saying that some of the country's most important allies around the world have majority Muslim populations.

"All Muslims? Seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace?"

"I can see why people are angry and scared," Bush added when asked about Trump's jump in the polls after proposing the ban. "But we're running for president here. It's a different kind of job. You have to lead."

Hillary Clinton weighed in as well.

Head vs. heart on Muslim ban

Asked if he could reconsider his proposed ban on Muslim immigration, Trump gave a flat "no."

"We have to stop with political correctness. We have to create a country that does not have the problems that we have had," he said, referencing the 9/11 attacks and the San Bernardino shootings.

"My Muslim friends, some, said 'thank you very much,'" he added.

MSNBC has more on this episode.

But Jeb Bush jumped in to challenge him, saying that some of the country's most important allies around the world have majority Muslim populations.

"All Muslims? Seriously? What kind of signal does that send to the rest of the world that the United States is a serious player in creating peace?"

"I can see why people are angry and scared," Bush added when asked about Trump's jump in the polls after proposing the ban. "But we're running for president here. It's a different kind of job. You have to lead."

Hillary Clinton weighed in as well.

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Carson on Foreign Policy and Christie on Assad

Ben Carson, who is not the most well-versed candidate on the stage in foreign policy, outlined his foriegn policy plan, which resembled components of his challengers proposals.

- Ask the commanders on the ground how to defeat ISIS.

- Take their oil.

- Remove strict rules about when and where to bomb.

Then Christie was asked what to do about Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad. He said Assad needs to go.

"You're not going to have peace in Syria with Assad in charge," Christie said.

Carson on Foreign Policy and Christie on Assad

Ben Carson, who is not the most well-versed candidate on the stage in foreign policy, outlined his foriegn policy plan, which resembled components of his challengers proposals.

- Ask the commanders on the ground how to defeat ISIS.

- Take their oil.

- Remove strict rules about when and where to bomb.

Then Christie was asked what to do about Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad. He said Assad needs to go.

"You're not going to have peace in Syria with Assad in charge," Christie said.

Andrew Rafferty

Kasich's foreign policy: 'Strength, but you gotta be cool'

Kasich's foreign policy: 'Strength, but you gotta be cool'

The debate has shifted focus to foreign policy with Jeb Bush getting a question about Iran and John Kasich fielding one about Saudi Arabia.

"In foreign policy, it's strength, but you gotta be cool," Kasich said.

The Ohio governor said the U.S. must signal its support for Saudi Arabia, but tell them to "knock off the funding and teaching of radical clerics."

Jeb Bush said the next president must signal to the world that the U.S. is "back in the game."

In debates and on the campaign trail, Republicans have been quick to blame President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for chaos around the world. Bush argued that the current admiration has weakened the military.

"Under President Jeb Bush we would restore the strength of the military," Bush said.

And here's more from MSNBC.

Kasich's foreign policy: 'Strength, but you gotta be cool'

The debate has shifted focus to foreign policy with Jeb Bush getting a question about Iran and John Kasich fielding one about Saudi Arabia.

"In foreign policy, it's strength, but you gotta be cool," Kasich said.

The Ohio governor said the U.S. must signal its support for Saudi Arabia, but tell them to "knock off the funding and teaching of radical clerics."

Jeb Bush said the next president must signal to the world that the U.S. is "back in the game."

In debates and on the campaign trail, Republicans have been quick to blame President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for chaos around the world. Bush argued that the current admiration has weakened the military.

"Under President Jeb Bush we would restore the strength of the military," Bush said.

And here's more from MSNBC.

Carrie Dann

"New York values" : Liberal or heroic?

What an exchange between Cruz and Trump on the idea of "New York values!"

Asked what he meant by labeling Trump's "New York values," Cruz responded with a list that's probably familiar to conservatives who disdain the East Coast elite.

"There are many many wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberally, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media."

And he referenced Donald Trump's 1999 interview on Meet the Press, in which the real estate mogul spoke about his Manhattan-influenced views. (You can watch the original clip below.)

But Trump responded gravely with an emotional response about 9/11, calling Cruz's wording "insulting."

"When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York."

Vividly describing the "smell of death," he spoke about the efforts to clear the wreckage and rebuild.

"New York values" : Liberal or heroic?

What an exchange between Cruz and Trump on the idea of "New York values!"

Asked what he meant by labeling Trump's "New York values," Cruz responded with a list that's probably familiar to conservatives who disdain the East Coast elite.

Donald Trump Responds to Cruz' 'New York Values' Remark 1:30

"There are many many wonderful working men and women in the state of New York. But everyone understands that the values in New York City are socially liberally, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, focused around money and the media."

And he referenced Donald Trump's 1999 interview on Meet the Press, in which the real estate mogul spoke about his Manhattan-influenced views. (You can watch the original clip below.)

Trump in 1999: 'I am Very Pro-Choice' 1:22

But Trump responded gravely with an emotional response about 9/11, calling Cruz's wording "insulting."

"When the World Trade Center came down, I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York."

Vividly describing the "smell of death," he spoke about the efforts to clear the wreckage and rebuild.

Carrie Dann

Carson gets -- and mostly dodges -- a Bill Clinton question

The question about Bill Clinton's past infidelities goes not to the topic's original instigator this cycle, Donald Trump, but instead to Ben Carson.

And Carson mostly dodged it.

Asked if Hillary Clinton acted as an "enabler" to her husband's treatment of women, Carson suggested that any past president's record should be open to scrutiny.

But then he pivoted to big-picture musing on the state of civil discourse.

"Our strength is actually in our unity," he says, deriding the rhetoric of the comments section on the internet.

"Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian values, I can tell you that."

Carson gets -- and mostly dodges -- a Bill Clinton question

The question about Bill Clinton's past infidelities goes not to the topic's original instigator this cycle, Donald Trump, but instead to Ben Carson.

And Carson mostly dodged it.

Asked if Hillary Clinton acted as an "enabler" to her husband's treatment of women, Carson suggested that any past president's record should be open to scrutiny.

But then he pivoted to big-picture musing on the state of civil discourse.

"Our strength is actually in our unity," he says, deriding the rhetoric of the comments section on the internet.

"Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian values, I can tell you that."

Andrew Rafferty

Trump: 'The guns don't pull the trigger'

Trump: 'The guns don't pull the trigger'

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush pledged their support for the Second Amendment to wild applause from the Charleston crowd.

Trump said he can see no reason to put more limitations on gun sales. Both Trump and Bush stressed that the country's focus should be on mental health as a means to prevent mass shootings.

"The guns don't pull the trigger, it's the people that pull the trigger," Trump said.

Trump: 'The guns don't pull the trigger'

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush pledged their support for the Second Amendment to wild applause from the Charleston crowd.

Trump said he can see no reason to put more limitations on gun sales. Both Trump and Bush stressed that the country's focus should be on mental health as a means to prevent mass shootings.

"The guns don't pull the trigger, it's the people that pull the trigger," Trump said.

Andrew Rafferty

Martin O'Malley hanging with Team Carson?

Martin O'Malley hanging with Team Carson?

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley has his own debate to prepare for Sunday night. But that doesn't mean he can't enjoy the fireworks going off at the GOP debate tonight.

Though it's where he is watching that is notable. The former Maryland governor seems to have made his way to a Ben Carson debate watch party in Iowa:

Martin O'Malley hanging with Team Carson?

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O'Malley has his own debate to prepare for Sunday night. But that doesn't mean he can't enjoy the fireworks going off at the GOP debate tonight.

Though it's where he is watching that is notable. The former Maryland governor seems to have made his way to a Ben Carson debate watch party in Iowa: