RECAP: Republicans Clash in Raucous South Carolina Debate

The remaining six Republican presidential candidates clashed in their final debate before next week's South Carolina primary. Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson met in Greenville for the debate, hosted by CBS News.

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


Carrie Dann

That's All From Us

It was perhaps the nastiest battle of the Republican campaign so far, with accusations of lying, flip-flopping and betrayal of conservative principles.

The big question going forward: Does it change the dynamic in the Palmetto State before next week's high-stakes vote?

Thanks for following along with our live digital coverage of tonight's debate in Greenville.

Highlights from the GOP Debate in South Carolina 2:00
Leigh Ann Caldwell

Closing Statements

Kasich: You were made special. I hope to have your vote

Carson: We can win and we can turn this thing around. We the people are the only people who determine that. You'll get somebody who's accountable to everybody and beholden to no one.

Bush: Who do you want to have sitting behind the big desk? I will have a steady hand.

Rubio: Our culture is in trouble. These are difficult times but 2016 can be a turning point. I will unify this party.

Cruz: Our country literally hangs in the balance. Do you want a proven conservative? Life, marriage, religious liberty hangs in the balance.

Trump: We need a change, a very big change. We need to make America great. We don't win anymore.

Andrew Rafferty

Kasich Embraces Democratic Support

John Kasich said the Democratic Party has abandoned its blue collar supporters and promised to win their votes if he is the eventual Republican presidential nominee.

"Blue collar Democrats… the Democratic party has left them," Kasich said.

The two-term Ohio governor has received an endorsement from the New York Times and has talked about his support among some Democratic voters.

In Saturday's debate, Kasich said the reason is because he talks about growing the economy and improving the middle class -- issues that appeal to those in all parties.

"I think all people are the same," he said.

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Trump: He Was 'Not a Good Governor'

The war between Trump and Bush is intense tonight. Those two do. not. like. each. other.

Trump said Bush "not a good governor" because his state was "in debt."

Bush defends his tenure saying he had a AAA bond rating and a good economy.

Carrie Dann

Trump Confronted on Profanity

Days after he took heat for using a particularly un-family-friendly word referring to the female anatomy, Donald Trump was confronted by the CBS debate moderators about his use of profanity.

Trump responded by citing his history of speeches to big business groups, saying "occasionally, in order to sort of really highlight something, I used a profanity."

Trump disputed the implication that he recently used another unrepeatable four-letter word, saying that media organizations made it seem like he uttered a phrase that he merely mouthed.

Then: "I have said I will not do it at all," he added. "Because if I say a word that's a little bit off-color, a little bit, it ends up being a headline. I will not do it again."

"Not using profanity is very easy," he said.

Carrie Dann

Rubio Pivots to Poverty

Coming out of a very nasty back-and-forth between Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, Rubio catches a break.

"Senator Marco Rubio, please weigh in," said moderator John Dickerson.

"On anything I want?" Rubio responded, barely believing his luck.

His choice: Talking about poverty.

"For me, poverty is free enterprise not reaching people."

Trump to Cruz: 'You're the Biggest Liar - Worse than Bush'

Trump to Cruz: 'You're the Biggest Liar -- Worse than Bush'

Donald Trump and Ted Cruz's spats reached a fever pitch Saturday night, with Trump calling the Texas senator the "single biggest liar."

"You're worse than Jeb Bush," Trump said after Cruz accused him of being too liberal, with a record of supporting abortion.

"This guy will say anything, nasty guy, nasty guy," he repeated. "Now I know why he doesn't have one endorsement from any of his colleagues."

Trump Tells Debate Crowd Cruz Is a 'Nasty Guy' 1:02

Cruz shot back: "Trump has this weird pattern -- when you point to his own record, he screams liar."

Trump pressed Cruz to state where Trump supported abortion, to which the senator responded: "You supported it when we were battling over Planned Parenthood!"

Trump reacted: "Planned Parenthood does do wonderful things, but not when it comes to abortion." Cruz took the conversation back to Justice Scalia, saying that if Trump is president, he will appoint liberals to the Supreme Court, and "your 2nd Amendment will go away."

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Trump: I'm a "Common Sense Conservative"

Trump called Ronald Reagan a somewhat liberal conservative who became a great president. In the next sentence he said he's a "common sense conservative."

When asked what he disagrees with conservatives on, Trump said eminent domain.

Bush chimed in because Trump said even Pres. George W. Bush used it for private use to build a stadium in Texas. Jeb! said he disagrees with his brother. Eminent domain should not be used for private use but for public good: bridges, roads, etc., he said.

Andrew Rafferty

Kasich Keeps Campaigning on Positivity

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has positioned himself as the candidate of positivity this campaign, said GOP attacks against each other will help Hillary Clinton win the White House.

"I think we're fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don't stop this," Kasich said.

The comment came after Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz sparred over immigration reform. Kasich has said all the candidates should pull negative ads and run their campaigns on a positive message.

After his second-place finish in the New Hampshire primary, however, Kasich said he would push back if he was attacked.

Kasich Scolds GOP Candidates Over Insults During Debate 0:27
Carrie Dann

Trump on Threats to Private Industry

A good question to Trump: As president, where would he derive the power to threaten or tax private companies trying to move abroad?

"I would build consensus in Congress, and Congress would agree with me," he said.

"Consensus means you have to work hard, you have to cajole, you have to get them into the Oval Office," he said.

Trump added that he sees Obama's use of executive orders as "a disaster" that he would not replicate.

Jeb Bush Channels His 'Inner Christie'

Jeb Channels His 'Inner Christie'

In the first GOP debate without Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush poured one out.

"I feel like I should pull out my inner Chris Christie," he said, saying that we shouldn't be listening to Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio talk "arcane amendments to bills that didn't pass."

Carrie Dann

Spanish Fight!

It's not every day that a fight breaks out on a debate stage -- in a language that's not English.

After Ted Cruz called out Rubio for a comment he made on Univision, Rubio shot back: "I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."

A visibly irritated Cruz immediately responded in Spanish, heatedly offering to debate him in the language.

Rubio ignored the outburst but flatly accused Cruz of lying throughout the campaign.

"He lied about Ben Carson in Iowa, he lies about Planned Parenthood, he lies about marriage, he's lying about all sorts of things," Rubio said, saying Cruz's behavior is part of a "disturbing pattern" of falsehoods.

Rubio Challenges Cruz on Speaking Spanish at Debate 1:23
Leigh Ann Caldwell

A Debate on Immigration That Almost Became a Spanish Language Debate

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz revived a long-standing debate over immigration. Here's what went down:

Rubio: He said he'd prove to people that illegal immigration in sunder control once and for all. After you do all that then see what the American people want.

Cruz: There are sharp differences on amnesty, he said. He then namechecks Jeff Sessions and Steve King, two opponents to immigration reform. He also highlights the "Rubio/Schumer amnesty plan." The question is where were you in that fight? Cruz asked.

Rubio: Cruz said he wants immigration to pass. So either he wasn't telling the truth then or he isn't telling the truth now.

Cruz: The lines are very very clear. Marco supports citizenship for 12 million people here legally. Then he talked about what Rubio said on Univision regarding Obama's executive amnesty.

Rubio: I don't know what I said on Univsion b/c he does't speak Spanish.

Cruz: Cruz then started speaking SPANISH.

(According to Tim Russert Fellow Marianna Sotomayor, Cruz said to Rubio, "Ahora mismo. Díselo ahora en español si quieres." Which translates to "Right now. Tell them right now in Spanish if you want.")

Rubio: Ted Cruz lies. He lied abotu Ben Carson in Iowa. He's lying now.

Cruz: If you want to assess who's telling the truth, look to Jeff Sessions, who set the record straight.

Moderators then end it there.

Trump Winning on Twitter Halfway Through Debate

Trump Winning on Twitter Halfway Through Debate

After the first hour of the GOP debate in Greenville, SC, Donald Trump was leading the conversation in the twittersphere with 42 percent of Twitter users commenting on the Republican front-runner. In second place was Jeb Bush with 23 percent.

Carrie Dann

Bush Takes Aim at Kasich for Medicaid Expansion

After John Kasich defended his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio, Jeb Bush took square aim at him for making a move he called at odds with conservatism.

"Obamacare's expansion... is creating further debt. We should be fighting Obamacare, repealing Obamacare, replacing it with something completely different," Bush said of Kasich's move.

"South Carolinians want to make sure that they nominate the most conservative candidate who can win," he argued.

Kasich defended his decision but tried to take the high road, appealing to South Carolina voters fatigued of negative attacks.

"The people of this country and this state want to see everybody rise and they want to see unity," he said. "I'm going to stay positive about what I want to do from the perspective of economic growth."

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Rubio Defends His High Tax Rate

Rubio was questioned about his increase in the earned income tax credit for families, which is paid for by a higher tax rate for the highest earners than anyone else on the stage.

Rubio says he wants a tax plan that is "pro-family."

"Parents who are working get to keep more of their money," he said.

Cruz Comes Out Strong Against Magic Pixie Dust

Cruz Comes Out Strong Against Magic Pixie Dust

On a question about economic growth, Cruz said that's not going to be solved "by magic pixie dust, by declaring 'let their be jobs!'"

Cruz said "we've gotta get people back to work, moving people from part-time work to full-time work," adding that he plans to abolish the IRS with a flat tax.

The Texas senator continued to list the points in his tax plan, which he said would increase jobs and lift everyone's income by double digits.

"That's how you turn the country around, not just by hoping and praying for it," Cruz said.

Andrew Rafferty

Carson Blames Obama for Instability in Middle East

Ben Carson blamed the Obama administration for the rise of ISIS and instability in the Middle East, but warned that displacing any dictator in the region will have repercussions.

"I've studied the Middle East," Carson said, and when you go in and displace leaders there "you're going to have chaos."

Candidates jumped on Trump for blaming President George W. Bush for the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and causing instability in Iraq. But Carson said the current administration is at fault, not the former president.

Carrie Dann

How to "Save" Social Security? Few Specifics from Trump

Donald Trump declined to give many specifics when asked how he would "save" Social Security.

"We have tremendous waste, fraud and abuse. That we're taking care of," he said.

Trump cited "thousands and thousands of people who are over 106 years old. Now, you know they don't exist."

But he again pledged to keep Social Security benefits for "the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life."

Leigh Ann Caldwell

Rubio and Trump Argue Over George W. Bush

Rubio, who is Bush's prime competitor, took Bush's side and attacked Trump. Here's what happened:

Trump started criticizing Pres. George W. Bush over the Iraq War.

Rubio chimes in and says he thanks God "all the time" that Bush was president and not Al Gore during Sept. 11th.

Trump responds, saying Bush didn't keep the country safe because the World Trade Centers were destroyed. "That's not safe."

Rubio's reaction: Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance.

Trump says Bush didn't either.

Jeb! says he's not invited Trump to his rally Monday where his brother George will be.


Bush Tells Trump Don't Go After My Family 0:59

Related: Bush, Trump spar over George W. Bush's legacy