What Happened During Saturday's GOP Debate

6:51 PM 2/13/2016

by Meena Jang

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush faced off in an aggressive back-and-forth as the six remaining Republican presidential candidates took the stage in Greenville, S.C. for the CBS News event.

GOP Debate South Carolina H - 2016

The ninth Republican presidential debate took place at the Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina with remaining candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, John Kasich and Jeb Bush.

Face the Nation host John Dickerson was the lead moderator, with Major Garrett (chief White House correspondent for CBS News) and Kimberley Strassel (Wall Street Journal) also on the panel.

Read highlights from Saturday night's debate below.

  • Candidates Share a Moment of Silence to Honor Justice Scalia

    The debate opened with moderator John Dickerson offering a moment of silence for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away Feb. 13. The news of his death was made known just hours before all six candidates faced off in South Carolina on Saturday evening. 

    Donald Trump and Ted Cruz were among the political candidates who shared their condolences for the late Justice Scalia on Twitter prior to the debate.

    Trump tweeted that Scalia's death was a "massive setback for the Conservative movement," while Cruz tweeted that Scalia was a "legal giant" and "brilliant man."

  • Trump, Bush Answer First Question About Justice Scalia's Replacement

    The first question of the night targeted Donald Trump and his previous statement that President Obama shouldn't nominate anyone to replace Scalia following the Supreme Court Justice's death.

    "It's a tremendous blow to our country," Trump said, though he admitted that "I think he's going to do it whether I'm okay with it or not."

    He name-dropped Judges Diane Sykes and Bill Pryor as suggestions for who he would appoint, but encouraged the Senate to "delay, delay, delay."

    John Kasich noted his disappointment that the country was "rushing so fast into politics" just hours after Scalia's death was made publicly known and echoed Trump's sentiments that the president should not move forward.

    Jeb Bush stated that Scalia's replacement should be someone with a "proven conservative record" and "lover of liberty." 

  • Moderator John Dickerson Gets Aggressive With Candidates

    Lead moderator Dickerson was aggressive in his questioning, going to the extent of trying to fact-check a statement made by Ted Cruz early in the debate.

    When Cruz was asked whether President Obama should nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia following his passing, he firmly stated that Obama should leave the decision up to the next elected president, saying, "We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court Justices in an election year."

    Dickerson then pressed Cruz for clarity, mentioning that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988.

    “No, Kennedy was confirmed in '87," Cruz replied, to which Dickerson shot back, "He was appointed in '87 and confirmed in '88. That's the question — is it appointing or confirming?"

    "In this case it's both, but can I just answer your question?" Cruz said in return.

    Dickerson then apologized and said that he "wanted to get the facts straight for the audience," after which he was booed.

  • Trump Attacks the Bush Family

    Jeb Bush and Trump faced off during the debate when the topic of the United States' relationship with Russia surfaced.

    Bush tweeted that it was "ludicrous to suggest that Russia is a partner in defeating ISIS" while Trump said at the podium that "Jeb is absolutely wrong."

    "You got to fight ISIS first. You have to knock out ISIS — they’re chopping off heads. They’re animals," Trump said, noting that the U.S. has wasted trillions of dollars on the Middle East with no results.

    Bush's brother and former president George W. Bush then became the target of attack, as Trump pointed out, "The World Trade Center came down during the rein of Bush."

    On Twitter, Bush responded to Trump's comments about his brother.

    In response to the Trump-Bush face-off, John Kasich noted that the debate was getting a little too personal. 

    "I think we’re fixing to lose this election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this," he said to a round of cheers.

    In his closing remarks, Trump repeated many of the talking points he hit during previous debates.

    "We need a very big change. We don't win anymore," Trump said. "We're going to start winning again. I am working for you. I am not working for anyone else."

  • Carson Thanks Moderators for Including Him, Plugs His Website

    After Trump and Bush dominated most of the debate early in the night, Ben Carson thanked Dickerson for addressing questions to him, saying, "Thank you for including me in the debate. Two questions already — this is great."

    The candidate also made an effort to plug his website, www.bencarson.com, multiple times during the short amount of time he was allotted to speak, causing a flurry of Twitter jokes about the site.

    Actor Josh Gad tweeted: