Tonight’s Fox News debate in Des Moines started with a moderator asking one of the seven Republican presidential candidates on stage about Donald Trump’s absence, but in the debate’s second hour, a fierce battle broke out on the issue of immigration reform.
Rand Paul said Ted Cruz wasn’t being truthful about his stand on the issue.
“That’s an authenticity problem, that everybody he knows is not as perfect as him because we’re all for amnesty. I was for legalization. I think, frankly, if you have border security, you can have legalization. So was Ted, but now he says it wasn’t so,” Paul said.
Cruz replied: “If you want to know who was telling the truth you should look and ask people like Jeff Sessions and Steve King and Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin all of whom say, as Jeff Sessions said responding to these false attacks just recently in Alabama, he said: ‘If it wasn’t for Ted Cruz, the Gang of 8 Rubio/Schumer bill would have passed.'”
New Jersey Chris Christie interjected, suggesting both Cruz and Marco Rubio were using “parliamentary tricks” to obscure their past support in the senate for amnesty.
“I feel like I need a Washington-to-English dictionary converter,” Christie said. “…Stop the Washington bull and let’s get things done.”
Rubio and Jeb Bush — the two Florida politicians on the stage — quarreled, too.
“You used to support a path to citizenship,” Rubio said to Bush and Bush shot back: “So did you, Marco.”
And the two kept going.
“There will be no progress on this issue in any way, shape or form until you prove to the people of this country that illegal immigration is under control and when I am president we are going to bring it under control once and for all after 30 years of talking about it,” Rubio said.
Bush replied: “When you led the charge with the Gang of 8, I supported it because you asked me to. I think it’s important for people in elected office to try to forge consensus to solve problems — there’s never going to be a perfect bill — but when you didn’t do that and you asked people to support, you shouldn’t cut and run.”
Ben Carson called the U.S. a “land of immigrants,” but Carson said immigration policy must be “intelligent”.
“That’s one of the reasons that I have called on us to declare war on the Islamic State,” Carson said, “because we need to reorient our immigration policies and our visa policies.”
Ohio Governor John Kasich also participated in the debate among the seven candidates leading in the polls.
The four other candidates who appeared together for an hour on Fox News earlier in the evening made a closing pitch for votes in Iowa. 2012 Iowa Caucus winner Rick Santorum blasted FOX News and other media for calling it the “undercard” debate.
“This is what the media has been doing over the past year in trying to segregate and take Iowans out of the process. What Iowans deserve is to hear from every candidate on an equal footing,” Santorum said, to cheers from the audience in the debate hall.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said he’s the same “trustworthy” guy who won the Caucuses eight years ago.
“Hello, Iowa. It’s me and you know me,” Huckabee said, joking about the video he released this week that was a parody of the Adele song. “You gave me the largest number of votes in the history of the Iowa Caucus eight years ago.”
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said there’s a “yawning chasm” between the “national media” and what the American people want from their government.
“In over 150 events I have come to know and love the people of Iowa and the people of Iowa know what the rest of Americans have figured out,” Fiorina said. “this ain’t workin’ anymore.”
Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore — the fourth Republican candidate on the stage — was making his first campaign visit to Iowa.