Closed Republican candidates fourth debate: As it happened


The Republican White House contenders took the stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for their fourth presidential debate. There were eight contenders on the stage after Fox Business News, which co-hosted the event with media empire stablemate The Wall Street Journal, determined that Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, and Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor, did not qualify to participate under their criteria. Marco Rubio built on his momentum, while Jeb Bush did not do much to bolster a wilting campaign, and Donald Trump stood out less than in previous debates as the field narrowed.

Welcome to our live blog for the fourth GOP debate. It’s a bit less crowded on the stage for the fourth main Republican debate. Debate host Fox Business decided to let candidates that polled an average of at least 2.5 per cent in the last four national polls to participate in the primetime debate tonight.

That left eight candidates on the main stage, and four others who didn’t make the cut to participate in the earlier debate. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee were knocked down to the 7 pm debate, while Senator Lindsey Graham and former New York Governor George Pataki failed to make either debate.

The fewer amount of candidates should give them something they’ve been complaining they haven’t been getting enough of in the debates: time.

The unprecedented number of candidates running for the Republican nomination this year has left debate hosts figuring out ways to handle the crowded slate. We’ll see if tonight’s performances whittle down the field even further.

Debate hosts Fox Business have vowed that their forum will be the anti-CNBC debate, after CNBC was roundly criticised by GOP candidates for the questions that were asked in their event.

Senator Ted Cruz, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and others criticized the CNBC moderators for not focusing on the issues and egging on the candidates to attack each other. Several questions from the moderators drew boos from the audience.

Afterward, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said he was very disappointed in CNBC. But that wasn’t enough for the candidates, who have been meeting to lobby for more control over future debates.

That means tonight, the candidates won’t be the only ones under the spotlight for their performance. Fox Business hosts Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto, along with Wall Street Journal editor Gerry Baker, have a lot riding on their shoulders, too.

Question #1 was would you raise the minimum wage:

Trump – No.
Carson – No.
Rubio – No.

Rubio also had a memorable line: we need more welders, than philosophers

Bush is raring to go: demands the floor from the moderators

Jeb tries to get some time, and Kasich cuts him off. Jeb does not respond.

This debate, like the last one, is supposed to focus on the economy. One piece of bad news for the Republican is the latest jobs report, which was better than expected with 271,000 jobs added in October.

Even wages went up, which had been stagnant and worrying economists.

But Americans are still worried about the economy and feel they are having to work harder to make ends meet. The outlook among CEOs is also still shaky. So even with the jobs report, there is still plenty of fodder for GOP complaints.

Jeb has been getting coaching from media guru who helped his father (and Dan Quayle).

Let’s see what impact it has had, given the terrible performance he had in the last debate.

Bush says he can achieve an “explosion of investments”; wants to repeal Obama’s Clean Power Act, Waters of the United States Act

“Hillary Clinton says Barack Obama’s policies get an ‘A’ “, Bush says

Is it just me, or does he seem likes he’s overcoached, Demetri?

Fiorina is hand-fed a question on Clinton one of her favourite subjects

Here is my take on what to look out for in the debate

Rand Paul says income inequality worst in cities run by Democrats, and joins on the Beat the Fed bandwagon.

Not a lot of jokes so far. For those who miss Lindsey Graham’s clever quips in the debate, you can follow his thoughts here:

While we’re in a commercial break, here is a quick re-cap of the JV debate that took place at 7pm EST

The ‘kiddie table’ had a nice burst of energy thanks to Chris Christie who got to come out of the shadows a bit without Trump, Fiorina and the others there stealing attention.

Christie used most of his time to turn the debate against Hillary Clinton – rather than each of the candidates turning against each other.

There was a nice, combatic exchange between Governors Mike Huckabee and Bobby Jindal. Jindal (separately) also made jokes about juice boxes and toilets, while Huckabee decided to make one about… Janet Yellen (Asked what he thought about the Fed chairwoman, Huckabee said her name made him think of his wife [Janet] yellin’.)

Most have been quick to name Christie the winner of the early debate. The main question of course is whether his performance will give him a big enough boost to see a jump in his poll numbers, gain some traction against his more visible rivals and make it back onto the main stage.

The Fox Business News moderators also seem to be more popular than last debate’s from CNBC. Aside from one question about which Democrat they’d work with – jeered by Jindal – most of the questions were straight economic and business ones.

Courtney – When Huckabee and Jindal were jousting, it reminded me of 2 Irish guys who have been kicked out of a pub arguing about who would buy the next round.

So far, this debate is much better organised than the really poor CNBC debate in Colorado.

I assume Fiorina was not the kind of philosopher Rubio was referring to

Carson jokes about how he’s glad he’s not being asked about what he was doing in the 10th grade. He’s had a tough week. For once, the GOP debate focus won’t be on Donald Trump. Instead, it’s his closest rival Carson who has been under increasing scrutiny for things he has said about his past.

Last week, Politico broke a story that accused Carson of lying when he said that he was offered a full scholarship to West Point. Carson later said he never applied to the military academy but military officers said it implied he would have received a full scholarship if he had applied.

It capped a week in which 17-year-old footage was dug up of Carson saying Joseph of the Old Testament actually built the Egyptian pyramids to store food. Questions were also raised about Carson’s story that he attempted to stab someone when he was 14.

Carson responded by lashing out at the media, a tactic that has worked amid the anti-establishment mood in the Republican electorate.

Here is a piece we wrote on Ben Carson’s scholarship controversy

And now we’re onto immigration, following decision by US appeals court yesterday to block Obama’s massive immigration overhaul, issued by executive order

Trump says “the courts have not been ruling in our favour. It was a 2-1 decision and it’s a terrific thing that happened… the wall will be built. the wall be successful. And if you think that walls don’t work, just ask Israel.”

Here is the story that we wrote on immigration

Here’s how some countries see immigrants, according to Gallup:

John Kasich says the US needs to control the border. But says ridiculous to think that US can deport 11m law-abiding people back to Mexico. “Think about the families.”

I am liking this Trump-Kasich back-and-forth…

Trump says Eisenhower moved millions of immigrants across the border.

Trump says “You should let Jeb speak”. Poor Jeb.

Kasich is fired up during this debate, like the last one. Here’s what else he’s done in Wisconsin.

Bush should watch how Kasich fights with Trump and take a leaf out of his book

Bush thanks Trump for saying “let Jeb speak”

Who would win in a pick up basketball game: Kasich, Trump or Bush?

Sorry is that a CNBC question?

Rubio: “It took the telephone 75 years to reach a million users. It took Candy Crush a year.”

Rubio now showing (again) why he is the best orator on the stage. Unlike Trump, he actually speaks in full sentences that make sense.

“My mom is here so I don’t think we should be pushing any grannies off cliffs” says Cruz

Cruz is managing to merge his two pet topics immigration AND the mainstream media into a single answer

Cruz starts attacking the media again. Says would see stories about the “economic calamity befalling our nation” if people with journalist degrees were coming across the border to the US and driving down journalism wages.

Is he talking about Rupert Murdoch?

Fiorina talks about doing away with Obamacare.
But no Republican has come up with a plan to replace it.
The area with the highest enrolment is a Republican district in Florida.

The stage definitely feels a lot smaller this time, with Huckabee and Christie moved to the JV debate – seems like there is less of people getting lost in the shuffle/ not getting a chance to speak (er, minus Bush at times)

As Fiorina is talking about reducing regulation, her campaign is touting her plan to reduce her tax code to three pages.

Fiorina stresses her record as driver of innovation. Here is Gina’s story about her time at HP

Fiorina mentions that she is a cancer survivor but says Obamacare is ‘crushing small businesses’. “Let us try the one thing in insurance that we’ve never tried: the free market.” [applause]

During the commercial break, here’s a recap of where the candidates stand so far in the polls. Trump and Carson are still at the top, with Rubio and Cruz following behind.

And here’s where they are in South Carolina, according to Monmouth University.

Now that we have your attention, quick plug for our interview with John Kerry, US secretary of state, on climate change and the Paris talks, which will be online tomorrow. Climate change is one of the areas where Democrats and Republicans are very far apart.

Carson asked whether God would approve of his tax plan or Trump’s tax plan?
Last time I checked, God was not (just) American, so does not have a vote.

Here’s our colleague Barney Jopson’s story about what Paul Ryan’s speakership means for tax reform in Congress.

Carson says people will be more generous if they are wealthier

Here’s Pew’s latest on tax views:

Cruz says there are more lines in the tax code than in the Bible “and they’re not as good”. So maybe God will go for Cruz.

So far this is the most in-depth conversation we’ve heard about tax plans or real economic and financial issues (or most issues for that matter)

So far according to Google, viewers are the most interested in Carson.

Yes, there are not as many fireworks between candidates, but there is more of a chance for the candidates to address the issues. Not a great format for Trump who is very light on details about everything.

Also interesting that the moderators are really pushing the candidates to spell out their tax plans and how they will pay for them

The candidate feeling the most pressure tonight is Jeb Bush, once the frontrunner who has been struggling while other political novices surpass him. And so far he hasn’t spoken much.

In the last debate, Bush tried to amp up his aggressiveness and went after Senator Marco Rubio, his chief rival and protégé. But instead, it was Rubio who school Bush. Afterward, Bush acknowledged he needed to improve his debate performance.

His nervous supporters will be watching carefully while others still on the fence about who to back could make their decision tonight. For those who have decided to stick with him, his merchandise is up for sale.

And in case you were wondering, Bush would go back in time to kill baby Hitler.

Cruz says he would eliminate 5 government agencies, including IRS, Energy, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development.

Trump and Bush seem especially quiet tonight

Rubio had a strong performance in the last debate. That has made him a growing target of his rivals.

Asked about child tax credits and the burden on the budget, Rubio comes back strong saying most important job he will ever have is being a father.

Gina – Trump has some good lines, but they are becoming really, really old.

I am proud of having a pro-family tax code, says Rubio

Finally some fireworks

Rubio says the Chinese are “taking over the South CHINA Sea”.

Paul attacks Rubio says his family tax credit plan is not conservative.

For once, Rubio has no reply, so starts taking about the bogeyman in the room. ISIS

Paul and Rubio are facing off over defence spending.

Paul: “I want a strong defence but I don’t want us to be bankrupt”

Will anyone bring up Rubio’s personal expenses during the debate? His rivals have tried to press him on personal expenditures he made on a GOP credit card when he was in the Florida legislature.

Jeb Bush needs a strong performance tonight to make up for his previous performances. But we are hearing very little from him.

And if you are wondering what Hillary thinks of the debate:

This is my second time watching Ted Cruz this week. After my daughter learned how to read “Green Eggs and Ham” this week, I showed her this video of Ted Cruz reading the book on the Senate floor.

A Dr Seuss classic!

(And class Ted Cruz moment)

“I hate to crash the party Mr Baker,” says Kasich after Gerry does not let him speak.

Trump is not just being quiet tonight. He is… subdued

Trump says TPP trade designed to bring China in through the back door. Only problem with that statement is that China was excluded from the deal. This is Trump revealing his ignorance again.

Trump calls Gerry Baker “Geraard”. Why do all the people on stage and moderators keep making him French?? [He is British-born]

Paul says “We might want to point out that China is not part of this deal”

Trump is down on a lot of things. And he always touts how he can make it all better.

To anyone watching the debate in the hall, is Jeb Bush still there?

Good moment for Rand Paul right there who called out Trump on TPP (and got Fox Business News to hold the commercial break)

Trump seems to be back in his usual form, after a more quiet debate performance the last time around. Maybe he’s still feeling the glow from his Saturday Night Live gig, when the show had its highest ratings since 2012.

A Putin reference! From Ben Carson. Says Middle East will be Putin’s base.

Trump and Ben Carson seem to be spending too much time together. Carson just dropped the word ‘LOSERS’ in reference to global terrorists

Talking about terrorism now. By some measures, only 26 people have been killed in the US from terrorism since the 9/11 terror attacks. More than 30000 people die from US gun violence every year. #Priorities

Courtney – You have just moved from Russia to Washington. Which candidate would scare Putin?

Ooh tough question. A lot of people in Russia are worried about Hillary, actually.

Breaking News: Bush gets to speak – about islamic terrorism

But which Republican would scare Putin?

Trump – the candidate that Putin would most want to have a beer with

On the Republican side, I’d have to say Rubio

Trump says Iran deal one of the worst deals ever signed. TPP also one of the worst deals ever signed.

I know Putin very well because we were both on 60 minutes.

That was Trump by the way, on 60 minutes.

Bush is doing a lot of shaking his head… not much speaking

Trump says US infrastructure falling apart – He is right about that.

Bush does speak! With a good line: we don’t want to be the world’s policeman, but we do want to be the world’s leader

And another good one from Bush: this is not a board game like Monopoly

Bush finally showing some leg. Monopoly line good – was that a deliberate reference to Trump’s hotels.

Trump says US should have the Iraqi oil and “given big chunks” to the US wounded soldiers. Very sophisticated.

This Fiorina-Trump exchange is almost as good as the one a few weeks ago about Fiorina’s face. Fiorina says she, like Trump, has also met Putin. “not in a green room – but in a private meeting”

Fiorina says she agrees with Bush. Bush blushes.

New head of US Navy told me a couple of weeks ago that the Russian navy was operating at highest tempo in 20 years.

Whether you agree with her or not, Fiorina shows she has foreign policy chops. But she hasn’t yet mentioned her “good friend Bibi Netanyahu” as she has in past debates.

Trump says “Why does she keep interrupting everybody” of Fiorina.

Is Trump trying to lose the female vote?

Rubio calls Putin “a gangster” and an organised crime figure. (Unlike Fiorina and Trump, Rubio has not met Putin.)

Rubio: Putin is exploiting America’s weakness

Contenders asked whether they would block Chinese investment into the US. First question to Kasich. Interested to hear his answer given this big investment in Ohio by one of the richest men in China – who probably makes the glass in your car.

Kasich talking about cyber attacks from China. Here’s one of our latest stories on the topic, this one about why China targeted health insurers like Anthem:

“China doesn’t own the South China Sea” – says Kasich, and gives Obama some credit for recent freedom of navigation operations

Ben Carson very, very quiet.

Kasich says China is not the enemy but not the friend.

By the way, on cyber stories, if you have any tips email them to Gina who is all over this beat.

Some of the establishment Republicans would back Kasich as their second choice if Bush becomes persona non grata. But he hasn’t risen enough in the polls, leaving them to look at Rubio.

After watching these different debates, my preferred format would be to put 10 of them on the stage and let them debate each other with no moderator.

Bush tries to joke that was in Washington, Iowa, telling people about how bad Washington DC is … No laughs.

Bush asked about whether he would bail out the banks if there is another crisis. His credibility is seen as a bit shaky on this given his past work for Lehman Brothers.

Yes, so did John Kasich

Carson asks if he would support a break up of the banks. He gives an odd answer about how big banks shouldn’t be allowed to take advantage of smaller ones. He also says the low interest rates are driving stock buybacks. He’s a bit all over the place on this one.

Some of the highlights of this Carson answer: 1776, a bar of soap, interest rates

Good few minutes for Bush as the other candidates refer to his point that banks need bigger capital cushions so that they are not in danger of failing during tough financial times.

Just a note that Kasich worked at Barclays. Various Wall Street ties on the stage.

Cruz says “absolutely not” in response to question about whether would bail out banks again.

Cruz’s wife works at Goldman Sachs and has been an asset in his campaign.

Cruz says the Federal Reserve is a “series of Philosopher Kings”

Cruz advocates going back to the gold standard.

Cavuto asks a good question laying out the realities, questioning whether Cruz would allow a Bank of America to go bust.

Kasich said he wouldn’t want to turn the Fed over to Congress.

Very different from Rand Paul, who has been on an ‘audit the Fed’ kick for a while.

Kasich is getting some boos from the audience for his answer on bailing out the banks

Fiorina: Dodd-Frank “a good example of how socialism starts”. [Cheers.]

With all the talk about depositors…

This debate has less fireworks than the last one, but in contrast there is actually some kind of debate on banks and how you regulate or don’t regulate them.

Our editor in New York just pointed out that earlier Ted Cruz said he would eliminate 5 government agencies but included Commerce twice in his list. Where is Rick Perry when you need him. OOPS.

Bank deposits are insured up to a certain amount by the FDIC or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which guarantees the safety of those accounts. Because of their power, they have a big say in how banks are regulated.

@EdwardGLuce and I interviewed Kasich a few months ago. He had some memorable lines, including asking Ed whether he played golf. Inside joke. Also told me that his first foreign trip as president would be to Ireland. #PlayingToTheCrowd.

Bartiromo gets booed for saying Clinton has an impressive resume.

Rubio says this election is about the future. Which election has been about the past?

Interesting that Rubio gets the question about facing off against Clinton in the general election. (Either because he’s now seen as the front-runner… or because he’s seen as the one with the least experience.)

I wrote this on Rubio’s strengths and weaknesses when he announced his campaign in Miami earlier this year.

We haven’t heard from Trump for a while.

Speak of the Devil, sorry Donald.

Trump talks about corporate inversions…

There are only 8 contenders on the stage tonight, compared to 10 or 11 in previous debates. The fewer the people on stage, and the more debate about issues, the tougher it is going to be for Trump who is not very good with details.

As candidates debate climate change, the New York Attorney General is going after oil and energy companies for making statements about climate change

Earlier the candidates were asked about Chinese investment. Barney Jopson led this good piece on the issue.

John Kerry was very interesting on climate change when I interviewed him in Norfolk, Virginia, today. The story will be online tomorrow.

The 2016 election is a year away now. Although polls for weeks have shown that Trump and Carson are the two leading contenders, past predictions have been off, according to FiveThirtyEight.

So we are wrapping up now. Closing statements after the break. I think you’re right, Demetri. Not a great night for Trump who usually struggles with the details. But others who usually fade into the background – like Rand Paul for instance – really benefited from this format

I agree Ed. Fox has been involved in 2 debates so far. They have done a better job than CNN and CNBC.

I will third that. FBN has been good on calling out the candidates on certain claims; and pushing them on details. Not as much as fireworks as some of the previous debates but candidates will likely be happy that there was a bit more substance this time

And the main take-away of the debate is….

Agree Courtney. One of the infuriating things about these debates can be how the moderators do not call out the candidates when they come out with rubbish.

Barney was writing about Shakira this week, but he likes inversions too

We are now into closing statements.

“Carly Fiorina can beat Hillary Clinton”. Bottle of Pinot Noir if you can guess who said that in their closing statement.

Bush says US needs a commander in chief not a agitator in chief or divider in chief.

Cruz says US needs to get back to free market principles and the constitution.

Cruz predicts 2016 will be an election like 1980

Join us at and we the people can turn this nation around

Is there someone out there who could do a seance with Ronald Reagan and get his view on tonight.

Ben Carson with a downer

Carson – During this debate 5 people have died from drug deaths…uplifting.

Carson must have read the piece that we wrote on middle aged men dying – often because of heroine addiction

Trump says Clinton was worst secretary of state in US history. Actually many Republicans privately say she was good, btu they don’t like Obama

And..That’s all folks..

What do we think are the main takeaways?

Cavuto gets in one last dig at CNBC, saying it was about the candidates not the moderators.

Yes, and he is right.

This debate was Rubio’s to lose. I don’t think he did. Demetri? Gina?

Fox Business News commentator agrees with me: says Rubio has become “the establishment candidate”

Courtney, My take is that we got more insight about the issues tonight.

Jeb Bush did better than the last debate, but he failed to break through.
Rubio, Fiorina and Cruz had a good night. Overall, I think Trump had the worst night. He was incoherent on most issues, had no clue about TPP, and did not get as much airtime as normal.

Agree it was a more substantive debate.

Bush had some moments but he really needed to deal a knock out blow to get back in the game but he didn’t get there.

That Monopoly one-liner from Bush was one of his better ones… of all the debates. But overall he faded into the background. The first part of the debate – where he kept trying to take the floor from Kasich – were pretty painful to watch too

We’re wrapping up our live blog. The next debate is not until December so voters will have a month to mull over the field before they get to see them together again. A lot can happen in a month in politics.

Thank you to everyone for reading and to my great colleagues – Gina and Courtney in Washington and Emiliya and Edge (not from U2) in New York.

Before we go, here is some reaction from Moscow

RIA Novosti (the Russian state-run news agency) has tweeted its takeaway: “US Presidential Candidate Trump supports Russian military’s actions in Syria”

Ok that’s it

Thanks all

Alright folks, thanks again, and see you next time. The Democrats are debating on Saturday night, but there are only 3 people on stage, so not as much commotion.