What Happened During Thursday's GOP Debate

5:50 PM 2/25/2016

by Natalie Stone and Jennifer Konerman

The five remaining Republican presidential candidates talked Apple, immigration and ObamaCare during Thursday's CNN debate.

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CNN's Republican debate on Thursday included the five remaining GOP candidates, after Jeb Bush dropped out following the South Carolina primary: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson. 

The debate, moderated by Wolf Blitzer and held in Houston at 5:30 p.m. PT on Thursday, pit Trump against Cruz and Rubio, who hoped to gain momentum heading into Super Tuesday. Trump entered this debate a frontrunner with recent primary wins from Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina, with Cruz close behind him. 

Highlights from Thursday's GOP debate are below. 

  • Candidates Defend FBI, Not Apple

    "Their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States," Marco Rubio said.

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    The GOP candidates were asked to weigh in on the recent feud between Apple and the U.S. federal government as one of the final debate topics on Thursday evening. When questioned on their position about whether or not Apple should comply with the FBI's court order following the December 2015 San Bernardino shooting, candidates Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich all agreed and expressed their support for the U.S. government.

    "Their brand is not superior to the national security of the United States," Rubio said. "Yes, Apple should be forced to comply with this court order," Cruz echoed.

    "Absolutely, I would expect Apple to comply with the court order," Carson agreed.

    Kasich then pointed a finger at President Barack Obama and his silence on the dispute. "The problem is not right now between the administration and Apple," he stated, then posing the question, "Where has the president been?" The Ohio governor closed the topic with a criticism of Obama's failure to speak publicly on the governmental issue: "The president of the United States should be convening a meeting ... this is a failure of his leadership."

  • Ted Cruz Fights for Time to Debate ObamaCare

    "I want to end it because it goes too far."

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    After his four fellow candidates each shared their opinions of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, Ted Cruz confronted Wolf Blitzer when the moderator skipped over him to move on to the next question.

    Though Blitzer replied that there would be time later in the debate to discuss further, Cruz pushed to equally share his opinion on the health care program. "I want to end it because it goes too far," the Texas senator said. "As president, I will repeal every word of ObamaCare."

    He also took aim at Donald Trump's proposal for "socialized medicine," to which Trump replied, "I do not want socialized medicine" and added, "I will not let people die on the streets if I’m president."

    The two candidates could agree on one thing, though: ridding of ObamaCare. "We have to get rid of ObamaCare. It is going to destroy our economy completely," Trump said.

  • Donald Trump: "I Don’t Believe Anything Telemundo Says"

    "You know what, they’re fine.”

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    In response to stats presented to GOP candidate Donald Trump that three out of four Hispanics polled nationwide by Telemundo don't like him, Trump responded, "First of all, I don’t believe anything Telemundo says."

    Trump declared his confidence on stage, saying, "I’m doing very well with Hispanics," and added of Telemundo, "you know what, they’re fine."

    He alluded to his belief that he is bringing Democrats and Independents alike to the Republican party. "The Democrats are getting very poor numbers in terms of bringing [Hispanics] in," Trump said, adding, "We’re building a much bigger, much stronger Republican party." 

  • Donald Trump: "Mexico Will Pay for the Wall"

    The GOP candidate defended his stance on the proposed U.S.-Mexico 1,000-mile-long wall.

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    Trump responded on stage to Mexican President Vicente Fox's comments on Thursday that he made in response to Trump's idea that Mexico will pay for the proposed border wall. "I'm not going to pay for that f—ing wall," Fox said earlier in the day, to which Trump responded on the debate stage, "he should apologize."

    "I can only tell you, if I would have used even half of that word, it would have been national scandal," Trump continued about the Mexican president's comments. The former Apprentice star said that the wall, which he is proposing be 1,000 miles long, will cost $10-$12 billion to build and that "it's going to work."

    "Mexico will pay for the wall," Trump said of the proposed border. "I don’t mind trade wars when we’re losing $58 billion a year."

  • George H.W. Bush Attends

    Former first lady Barbara Bush was also in attendance.

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    Former President George H.W. Bush was in attendance at Thursday evening's CNN debate and was welcomed by the audience with loud applause. The 41st president was also joined by former first lady Barbara Bush at the GOP event, where the two could be seen holding hands and lifting their arms in the air as the crowd cheered.

    After the five contending candidates were announced by moderator and CNN host Wolf Blitzer, country artist Deena Carter sang the national anthem to kick start the debate.

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