CNN GOP Debate: Jeb Bush Defends Wife Against Donald Trump, Trump Calls Carly Fiorina "Beautiful"

Republican Debate - H 2015
AP Images

Republican Debate - H 2015

The candidates debated a variety of topics including immigration, taxes, marijuana and the Iranian nuclear deal.

Eleven Republican candidates took the stage for Wednesday night's three-hour GOP presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

The CNN-hosted event, moderated by Jake Tapper with Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash, saw Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, John Kasich and Chris Christie go head-to-head in the second 2015 GOP debate.

Wednesday night began with a short introduction from each candidate, which included Huckabee referring to the group as the "A team," Trump committing to "make our country rich again" and to take care of veterans, and the lone female candidate Fiorina pledging, "I am prepared to lead the resurgence of this nation."

When the subject of Trump's temperament was brought up early in the debate, the former Apprentice host said, "I think I have a great temperament ... My temperament is very good, very calm."

Paul questioned whether Trump's character is suited to the task of overseeing nuclear-related decisions. "Do we want someone with that kind of character and that kind of careless language?" he questioned, and said it concerned him to have someone in charge who attacks people on they way they look. A charge to which Trump responded: "I never attacked him on his looks and believe me, there's lots of subject material there." 

After Tapper raised the question whether experience in government is important for a president to have, Bush and Trump began debating about accepting campaign donations. "I am not accepting any money from anybody," said Trump.The former Florida governor responded by calling out Trump for having paid Hillary Clinton to attend his wedding. "More energy tonight. I like that," replied Trump.

The candidates then addressed what they would do if they were President right now to stop Russia's Vladimir Putin from propping up Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

Cruz responded and called the Iranian nuclear deal "the single biggest national security threat facing America right now." Kasich said, "It's a bad agreement. I would have never done it." Then added, regarding Europe and allies: "We are stronger when we work with Western civilization." 

When asked if Barack Obama should cancel a state dinner for China's President in response to its devaluing of its currency and alleged cyber attacks against the U.S., the candidates disagreed.  

Kim Davis' recent arrest for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses also came up. "If the court can just make a decision, and we all surrender to it, we have judicial tyranny," said Huckabee. Bush commented, "I think there needs to be accommodation for someone acting on their faith."

Cruz's push to defund Planned Parenthood, which could lead to a government shutdown, was the next topic.  Kasich remarked, "There are ways to do it without shutting the government down."

"Since the day I walked in as governor, Planned Parenthood has not been funded," Christie said, before shifting to bring Clinton into the debate. "Hilary Clinton is the real opponent; she's the real problem."

Fiorina chimed in: "Anyone who has watched this video tape, I dare Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama watch these videos ... This is about the character of this nation," she said of vetoing the bill.

"I'm the most pro-life governor on this stage. Life is a gift from God," Bush said of defunding planned parenthood ("I don't believe Planned Parenthood should get a penny from the government," he also remarked) and admitted that he previously misspoke in regards to women's health.

Trump chimed in, "I will take care of women. I respect women."

Tapper then asked Fiorina to respond to comments Trump had previously made about her appearance.

"I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said," Fiorina said, to which the businessman replied, "I think she's got a beautiful face, and she's a beautiful woman." 

The debate then shifted to immigration reform.

"I want to build a wall; a wall that works," Trump said. "I don't think you'd even be talking about illegal immigration if it weren't for me." He proceeded, "It can be done with proper management, and it can be done with heart."

"We need to secure our border and we need to do it with just more than a wall," said Christie, advocating for also using technology and drones. He remarked that people who have overstayed their welcome and their visas need to be held accountable.

Trump had previously suggested that Bush was soft towards immigrants because his wife is of Mexican descent. Bush replied that Trump had gone too far by bringing his wife into the debate and said Trump could apologize to her, as she was in the audience. An offer Trump did not take up because he believed he had "said nothing wrong."

Bush said that building a wall and deporting millions of people in the short time frame Trump was advocating for would cost millions of dollars and impact communities.

The former Apprentice host had previously criticized Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, a criticism he returned to in the debate: "This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish." Bush replied that he will respond to a high school kid who questions him in Spanish and will "show respect" by answering him in Spanish.

Cruz said that he is glad Trump's opinions on immigration have caused mainstream media to listen.

Trump said of birthright citizenship: "I don't think so." A position also shared by Paul who agreed with Trump, pointing out that the 14th amendment applied to slaves and not to the babies born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants. Fiorina remarked that Democrats don't want to solve immigration, but they want it to be an issue they can use.

Trump and Fiorina then debated about their previous experience in the business industry, which segued into a debate over taxes and wages. Carson said he believes in a starter and sustaining minimum wage, Paul said he believes in a flat tax and Trump said the wealthier should pay higher taxes.

When asked why he doesn't speak negatively of Clinton, Kasich remarked he wants to give people "a sense of hope" and will continue to talk about his record instead.  Fiorina said of Clinton: "Like Mrs. Clinton, I too have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles around the globe, but unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity — it is not an accomplishment. If you want to stump a Democrat, ask them to name an accomplishment of Mrs. Clinton."

Next: the topic of 9/11 and the Iraq war. 

Carson said he would not have gone into Afghanistan. Unlike Christie, who said, "I supported Bush for going into Afghanistan," then added: "America was safe for those seven years, and Barack Obama has taken that safety away."

Trump threw a dig at Jeb's brother George W. Bush, saying, "Your brother and your brother's administration gave us Barack Obama because it was such a disaster those last three months that Abraham Lincoln couldn't have been elected."  The presidential candidate, defending his sibling, responded, "You know what, as in relation to my brother, there's one thing I know for sure: he kept us safe."

The debate then covered a variety of topics including ISIS, George W. Bush's decision to appoint John Roberts as Chief Justice, the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and nationwide, social security and vaccines.

"Forty years ago, I smoked marijuana," Bush admitted on stage. Fiorina used his admission to support her stance on the drug: "The marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago," she said, speaking from personal experience of burying a child lost to drug addiction. Christie said he is a supporter of medical marijuana but is against the recreational use of the drug.

Trump addressed social security and said that there is a "certain truth" to the rich not getting social security. As a policy, he said he would leave it up to the people to decide if they would receive it. "There are people that truly don't need it ... I would be willing to write mine off," said Trump.

To close the debate, the 11 candidates discussed which woman they thought should have her face on the $10 bill, and how, if elected president, the world would look differently after they left office.