Republicans go after each other and media in third debate

Adrian Duer, freshman in pre-business, watched the debate with more than 40 others in Curtiss Hall at the ISU College Republicans Watch Party. 

Alex Hanson

The top 10 Republican candidates debated for the third time Wednesday night, attacking Democrats and also taking shots at each other and the media throughout the two-hour debate.

CNBC hosted the forum in Boulder, Colo., on the campus of the University of Colorado-Boulder. The candidates were placed on stage based on poll number averages.

Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, John Kasich and Marco Rubio were onstage for the primetime debate.

To start, each candidate was asked about their greatest weakness, a question the moderators said is often asked for a job interview and since the debate is an interview to be president, they should answer.

Kasich came out swinging right away, saying he was fed up with what he has said has been an election concerned with attacking each other rather than talking about real issues.

“Great question, but I want to tell you, my great concern is that we are on the verge perhaps of picking someone who cannot do this job,” Kasich said, adding that Republicans shouldn’t be doing things like trying to “scare” seniors over Medicare cuts, and “building a wall” along the border.

CNBC said the debate would focus mostly on economic issues, and each candidate spent time discussing their tax plan. Cruz, who unveiled his tax plan shortly before the debate, claimed he could be trusted to make real reforms that would stimulate growth.

Carson got into a debate with a moderator about how much his 15 percent tax rate across the board would cost, and Kasich jumped in, calling Carson’s tax plan a “fantasy.”

Huckabee and Christie went back and forth over Social Security reform. Christie said the government has stolen money from those paying into it.

“The [Social Security] trust fund is filled with IOU’s,” Christie said. “Social Security will be insolvent in seven to eight years.”

Huckabee said candidates offering plans for testing or government vetting those getting benefits or not offering benefits to the wealthy is wrong because everyone, regardless of how much money they made, paid into the program.

Bush and Rubio, both from Florida, who were considered friends during their time in state government, went back and forth over Rubio missing votes in the U.S. Senate.

“When you signed up for this, this was a six year term,” Bush said, adding Rubio should resign if he doesn’t “like” his job in Washington.

Rubio defended himself saying that other candidates missed votes when running in the past, including 2008 Republican nominee John McCain, and Rubio said Bush never attacked McCain.

Rubio also defended himself from moderators who asked about the handling of his personal finances, saying he didn’t inherit money from his parents, and had to work thorough school himself and pay his loans back.

Candidates spent a lot of time attacking the debate moderators and the media. Trump said CNBC did a “horrible” job at fact-checking questions.

When a moderator asked Trump if she made up a quote, Trump responded, saying, “I don’t know, you people write this stuff.”

Rubio said in a discussion about Super PAC’s that Democrats have the ultimate Super PAC: “the mainstream media.” He also called Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton a “liar,” and claimed while the media said she had a good week, it was actually a bad week.

Iowa State students may have been looking for a discussion on education policy, but CNBC asked only Kasich about student loans. He stuck to the typical Republican answer, saying government should not be as involved in the student loan industry and other education services, instead calling for privatization.

As for who did the best, Kelly Winfrey, an assistant professor at the Greenlee School of Journalism, led a discussion in a watch party at Hamilton Hall and said she thought Rubio stood out.

“Rubio stood out, I think he’s a strong speaker, and he handles himself well when put in a corner,” Winfrey said.

She also said Christie may have “gained” the most out of the debate.

“He got a little more speaking time than the previous debate, and he’s very clear and very direct,” Winfrey said. “He really tried to appeal to those on the other side of the TV screen.”

In the most recent polling, Carson and Trump have been on top, but Winfrey said they were relatively quiet. She said they have more to loose than to gain, which may explain them being quiet.

Bush, who needed to stand out because of a recent slump in polls, seemed “flat”, Winfrey said.

About 40 students turned out to the Hamilton Hall watch party, and each student was given a scorecard to rank who they think did best. Rubio did the best, according to students, with Christie in second. The Iowa State College Republicans also hosted a watch party in Curtiss Hall.

CNBC also hosted an undercard debate earlier in the night that featured Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum and George Pataki.

Republicans will debate again Nov. 10 on FOX Business Network. Democrats will debate Nov. 14 in Des Moines on CBS.