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RECAP: CNBC's 2016 Republican Debate

Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul will face off.

NBC’s political unit live-blogged CNBC's Republican presidential debate. GOP candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Rand Paul faced off.

If you missed the debate, you can catch up with our live-blog below


10:20pm ET: It's over! Who won? Who lost?

10:12pm ET: Closing statements:

  • Paul: "I want a government so small I can barely see it."
  • Christie: "Are you fed up with how government wastes your money?... Are you serious about this election, because if you are, I'm deadly serious about changing this culture."
  • Cruz: "If people are promising they're going to take on Washington and cronyism, you have to look at who's been doing it."
  • Fiorina: "What we need now is a proven leader who has produced results... I may not be your dream candidate just yet, but I can assure you that I am Hillary Clinton's worst nightmare."
  • Carson: "I want to thank my colleagues for being civil and not falling for the traps."
  • Trump: Slams CNBC format, cites earlier protests about length. "I renegotiated it down to two hours so we can get the hell out of here."
  • Rubio: "We can't just save the American dream, we can expand it."
  • Bush: "We need a unifier, not a cynical divider-in-chief."
  • Huckabee: "I do not want to walk my five grandkids through the charred remains of a country called America."
  • Kasich: "We can renew America if we work together."

10:10pm ET: Rubio jumps in on entitlement reforms: "Everyone up here who is talking about reforms, we're talking about future generations," not current seniors.

"I'm against anything that's bad for my mother," he jokes.

10:08pm ET: Asked about his plan for Medicare, Carson says: "It was never intended that government should be in every aspect of our lives."

10:04pm ET: We are back from break. Bush, on his ideas for entitlement reform: "The idea that you're just going to grow your way out of this... you're going to have to make adjustments to both Medicare and Medicare."

Kasich agrees: "You can't just grow your way out of demographics."

9:57pm ET: From NBC's Charlie Gile: Here’s what Politifact has to say about Chris Christie’s claim that Bernie is planning on raising taxes 90%. “Sanders has dismissed the notion that he wants to set marginal tax rates for billionaires at 90 percent. And on the whole, his tax proposals so far do not envision raising "your taxes" -- that is, those of ordinary Americans -- to anything approaching 90 percent.”

9:55pm ET: Asked about legality of Fantasy Football, Bush first touts his own team, which he says is 7-0. But he says "there should be some regulation in place." But he says he's not sure about whether it should be federal government's domain.

Christie gets huge applause for disputing why it's even an issue amid other big problems like ISIS. "Let people play, who cares!"

9:51pm ET: A lot of big moments in this debate so far. And Rubio is a big winner.

9:49pm ET: Huckabee gets a question about Trump, doesn't take the bait.

“I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight. Get over that one," he responds. Uses his time instead to tout his record fighting the Clintons in Arkansas.

9:46pm ET: Donald Trump is asked whether he would feel more comfortable if his employees brought guns to work.

"Yes I might feel more comfortable," he says. Calls gun-free zones "target practice for sickos."

He says he occasionally carries a gun "but I like to be unpredictable."

9:44pm ET: Going back to Trump's earlier denial that he called Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal senator," CNBC's Becky Quick reads the statement from Trump's website.

"It's fine if they come in, they have to do it legally," he says.

9:40pm ET: John Kasich takes a quesiton about legal pot "Sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster."

9:38pm ET: Rand Paul, who's gotten few questions in the debate, injects himself to talk about his tax plan. He gets praise for the plan from Cruz, who promotes Paul's before boosting his own.

9:31pm ET: Mike Huckabee makes an analogy between the federal government and the runaway blimp in the northeast earlier today! "If you saw that blimp that got cut loose from Maryland today, it’s a perfect example of government. I mean, what we had was something the government made, basically a bag of gas, that cut loose, destroyed everything in it’s path, left thousands of people powerless, but they couldn’t get rid of it because we had too much money invested in it, so we had to keep it. That is our government today. We saw it in the blimp."

An unmanned Army surveillance blimp floats through the air while dragging a tether line south of Millville, Pa.Jimmy May / Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP

9:29pm ET: From NBC's Alex Jaffe: Ben Carson gave his most aggressive and energetic response yet not to any questions on policy but to one on his ties to Mannatech, a nutritional supplement maker that was sued for false advertising. He said much like he does for a range of groups and companies, he had done paid speaking for them, and tried to turn the question around on the media. “It’s absolutely absurd to say I have any connection with them."

Per the Wall Street Journal, that’s not quite true — Carson said during a 2011 speech to Mannatech associates that “part of that $2.5 million” that funded his endowed post at Johns Hopkins came from the company. He gave four paid speeches for the company, and recorded video testimonials in which he extolled the benefits of Mannatech’s “glyconutrients” and claimed they alleviated symptoms of his prostate cancer.

9:23pm ET: Trump uses a question about H1B visas to say "I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here." Some confusion about whether or not he called Marco Rubio "Mark Zuckerberg's personal Senator." Trump denies it. (It's in his immigration reform policy plan here.)

Then Trump pivots to attack on other candidates' super PAC money. "I will be putting up tremendous amounts of money," he adds, but says that it's all his own campaign's.

Rubio hits back: Democrats have their own superPAC "The American mainstream media."

9:19pm ET: Ben Carson gets questions about being on the board of CostCo, which has a reputation as a gay-friendly business. Says that he believes the Constitution protects everyone and his position on same sex rights has been distorted.

9:15pm ET: Fiorina goes after Hillary Clinton. They're the only two women in the 2016 race. "Every single policy that she espouses, every policy that Barack Obama espouses, has been demonstrably bad for women."

9:13pm ET: From Charlie Gile: Jeb Bush said he cut taxes in Florida by $19 billion, but is it true? He’s made this claim in the past, and PolitiFact rated it “Half True”. He took these numbers from his Right to Rise PAC, which looked at cumulative revenue changes between 1999 and 2007 ($19.3 billion, adjusting for inflation). The problem with this claim is that it’s really not as simple as boiling it down to a single number like he did.

PolitiFact wonders how much some of these tax cuts affected the average Floridian but since they think the numbers are at least somewhat fair, they rated it “Half True”.

9:10pm ET: Rubio gets a question on numerous reports about his handling of his personal finances. Calls the stories "discredited" and takes the opportunity for a subtle dig at some rivals instead, saying "I didn't inherit any money."

9:08PM ET: Bush says: You find me a Democrat that is for cutting spending by $10 and I will give them a warm kiss."

9:05pm ET: Fact check from NBC's Charlie Gile: Trump said that he’s never declared for bankruptcy. While it’s technically true that he’s never personally filed Chapter 8, his businesses have done so – four times, in fact.

  • Trump Taj Mahal – 1991
  • Trump Plaza Hotel – 1992
  • Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts – 2004
  • Trump Entertainment Resorts – 2009

9:03pm ET: Asked by Jim Cramer if anyone responsible for the GM ignition switch failure should be behind bars, Christie: "You bet they do. And if I were the prosecutor, that’s where they’d be." Calls Obama's Justice Department too political.

9:00pm ET: And we're back from break. Trump takes a question on bankruptcies in Atlantic City.

"I used the laws of my country to my benefit. I'm sorry."

8:50pm ET: Christie and Huckabee, who have had very little speaking time, now sparring on Social Security.

Cruz weighs in too, saying both are right.

For more on each candidates' entitlement plans, check out this report from NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell.

8:49pmET: Fact check from NBC's Charlie Gile: Jeb Bush went after Marco Rubio’s missed votes in the Senate. According to, Rubio has missed about 47% of the Senate votes. (Compared to Bernie Sanders, who has only missed about 10 total votes.) Politifact looked into a similar claim by Donald Trump, giving it a “Mostly True” rating. They compared the career absentee rate of the Senate candidates, finding that Ted Cruz actually has missed more votes over the course of his career, but Rubio is right behind him.

And NBC's Dan Cooney notes: Marco Rubio brought up then-Sen. John Kerry’s poor attendance record for Senate votes during his 2004 run for president. Rubio has recently come under fire for missing Senate votes, with a prominent Florida newspaper calling on Rubio to resign.The Washington Post’s Paul Kane noted in August 2007 that Kerry missed 72 percent of votes in the Senate during his 2004 campaign.

8:45pm ET: Now it's Ted Cruz who takes aggressive aim at the media, gets rewarded with enormous cheers from the audience.

"How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?" he says.

"Nobody watching at home believes that any of the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary!"

8:44pm ET: Fiorina answering in-depth questions about her tenure at H-P. "I will run on my record all day long, and I believe people are ready for a leader who will make tough calls and be held accountable."

8:43pm ET:

8:40pm ET: Wow, big tussle between Bush and Rubio about skipped votes. Bush says Senate schedule is already like a "French work week."

Rubio shoots back: "Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you," rattles off missed votes by Obama, McCain.

8:36pm ET: Rubio gets a question on skipped Senate votes. Says the GOP establishment says the same thing: "Why don't you wait in line?" "The time to act is now, the time to turn the page is now."

Adds that he read the Sun Sentinel's op-ed suggesting that he "should resign, not rip us off" with "great amusement."

"It's actually evidence of the bias that exists in American media today."

Huge applause from the crowd as Rubio blasts the media.

8:34pm ET: Cruz plugs the tax plan he just unveiled, while Fiorina argues that she's the candidate who can get it done.

8:30pm ET: Kasich comes out swinging, hitting Carson and Trump's fiscal plans. "Folks, we gotta wake up. We cannot elect somebody who does not know how to do the job."

Trump replies: "John got lucky with fracking.. That's why Ohio is doing okay." Also hits his time at Lehman Brothers.

"He was so nice, he was such a nice guy," Trump says of Kasich. "Then his poll numbers tanked. That’s why he’s on the end. And he got nasty."

8:28pm ET: CNBC's Becky Quick asks Ben Carson about his tax plan, which would create a $1.1 trillion hole in the budget. Carson says "You have to close all the deductions and all the loopholes. You also have to do some strategic cutting... Also, we can stimulate the economy." Says high taxes are holding it down.

8:24pm ET: Asked "is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?" Trump vigorously complains. "That is not a very nice way of asking the question."

Trump highlights that CNBC's Larry Kudlow has praised his tax plan, and reiterates that he could get the Mexican government pay for his border wall. "A politician can't get them to pay," but says he can.

8:16pm ET: We're underway! The first question to all the candidates: What is your biggest weakness and what are you doing to address it?

  • Kasich comes out of the gate instead with his concerns about the rest of the GOP field.
  • Huckabee: "If I have a weakness, it's that I try to live by the rules," he says. Adds that Washington isn't playing by the rules that the rest of the American people.
  • Bush: "I am by my nature impatient," he says just days after voicing his frustrations about the campaign. "I can't fake anger"
  • Rubio: "I share a sense of optimism" about America.
  • Trump: "I trust people too much. I am too trusting. When they let me down, I never forgive."
  • Carson: Says he's not willing to attack fellow Republicans
  • Fiorina, with a big grin: "After the last debate I was told that I didn't smile enough."
  • Cruz: "I'm a fighter. I am passionate about what I believe."
  • Christie: "I don't see a lot of weakness on this stage." Says the big weakness is on the Democratic side.
  • Paul says he'll filibuster the budget deal.

How many really answered the question?

8:11pm ET: In the moments before the debate, Ted Cruz rolled out a flat tax plan in an op-ed on the Wall Street Journal. He writes that his plan would feature the following:

  • For a family of four, no taxes whatsoever (income or payroll) on the first $36,000 of income.
  • Above that level, a 10% flat tax on all individual income from wages and investment.
  • Elimination of the payroll tax and the corporate income tax, to be replaced by a 16% Business Flat Tax.

8:07pm ET: The candidates are about to come on stage. Jeb Bush made sure his Twitter followers know that he's ready to debate -- with appropriate footwear.

7:55pm ET: Former GOP nominee Mitt Romney thinks that Lindsey Graham deserves a boost after the "happy hour" debate in Boulder.

7:40pm ET: The primetime debate is about to begin. Don't forget to grab a Meet the Press #MTPBingo card to play along!

7:24pm ET: Before the primetime contest began, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham participated in an “undercard” debate for candidates who did not meet CNBC’s criteria for the primetime event.

Graham stood out for his animated criticism of his own party.

"At the end of the day folks, I am trying to solve a problem and win an election. I'm tired of losing," he said.

For more coverage, here's a full story from NBC's Andrew Rafferty.

And here's another exchange from the undercard debate, when each candidate answered a lightning round question about the apps about the apps they use the most.

Producer Matt Rivera caught up with Bobby Jindal in the spin room, too. See what the post-debate press crush looks like: