GOP presidential candidates meet for 4th debate

Marco Rubio laughs as Donald Trump makes a point during Republican presidential debate at Milwaukee Theatre, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Republican presidential candidates debated for the fourth time in the 2016 nomination contest, this time in Milwaukee, as they compete to narrow down the wide-open contest.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is trying to show his international chops by taking the debate audience on a trip around the world during the fourth presidential debate.

The former congressman and member of the House Armed Services Committee is vowing offense versus China on cyber security.

Ukraine? Arm the independence movement.

Saudi Arabia? Cut off aid to radicals.

Jordan? “We want to the king to reign for 1,000 years.”

Israel? “We have no better ally in the world.”

And while Kasich says, “China does not own the South China Sea,” he credits President Barack Obama for moving U.S. naval forces into the region to keep them in check.

Just where is the best place to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin?

Carly Fiorina is jabbing rival Donald Trump in the fourth Republican presidential debate, saying she met privately with Putin — “not in a green room for a show.”

Fiorina says Trump “fancies himself a very good negotiator” and he should know not to negotiate from a position of weakness.

Fiorina says she would not negotiate with Putin now because the U.S. is in a position of weakness, and should first bolster the military in the region to make sure “Putin understands the United States of America will stand with its allies.”

Donald Trump says he’s fine with Vladimir Putin playing a role in trying to “knock the hell” out of the Islamic State in Syria. But Jeb Bush says not so fast.

Bush says during the fourth GOP presidential debate, “Donald is wrong on this.” He adds that allowing Putin to collude with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against the Islamic State is “like a board game. That’s like playing Monopoly or something.”

Bush says the United States must be a leader in Syria, while Trump says it’s not the United States’ job to be the world’s policeman. He’s suggesting that arming rebels to fight Assad may create more problems in the region.

The exchange is the first combative moment between Bush and Trump on tonight’s debate stage.

Jeb Bush says American leadership is needed to combat Islamic terrorism.

The former Florida governor says during the main-stage Republican debate that the Islamic State group is the biggest threat facing the United States.

Bush says President Barack Obama “does not believe in American leadership.” Bush is calling for a no-fly zone in Syria and safe zones for refugees to stay in the region.

Bush argues that without “American leadership every other country in the neighborhood begins to change their priorities.”

Donald Trump says a new international trade deal is “horrible” and empowers China.

But Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has a quick reminder: the Trans-Pacific Partnership doesn’t include China.

The sharp response from Paul during the fourth Republican presidential debate Tuesday came after Trump called China the “number one abuser of this country.” He says the TPP deal makes the United States vulnerable and “we’re losing with everybody.”

Trump says: “I love trade. I’m a free trader 100 percent but we need smart people making the deal and we don’t have smart people making the deal.”

Paul says there’s an argument that China doesn’t like the TPP deal because it will increase U.S. trade with China’s competitors. Paul says the U.S. should be negotiating from a position of strength, but Congress has given up too much of its power to the president in making the deals, leaving the legislative branch as a bystander.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is lobbing the first attack of the night at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by questioning his conservative credentials on taxes and military spending.

Pointing to Rubio’s plans to expand the military, Paul says, “Can you be a conservative and be liberal in military spending?”

Rubio is firing right back: “I know that Rand is a committed isolationist. I’m not.”

Despite Rubio’s campaign momentum, no other candidates have taken a chance to hit him in tonight’s debate. But Paul isn’t holding back, also slamming Rubio’s plan to expand the child tax credit, which Paul says amounts to a new expensive welfare program.

Paul says, “we have to decide what is conservative and what isn’t.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says he is going to “fight as hard as I can to shift power away from Washington” to jump-start the economy if elected president.

Bush said during Tuesday’s fourth Republican presidential debate that his highest priority is simplifying the tax code to stimulate the economy and pay down the national deficit.

He says if that’s not done, “we’re stuck with the new normal of 2 percent growth.” He says that while jobs are being created, they are lower-paying than the ones that were lost during the recession.

Bush says Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s approach is “more top-down, more regulation, more government and it will destroy our economy.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz stumbled in listing his plans to eliminate five federal agencies.

Talking about his economic plans during the main stage Republican debate, Cruz identified “five major agencies that I would eliminate: the IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce and HUD.”

Cruz listed the Department of Commerce twice. According to his website, the plan also includes the Department of Education.

The moment was reminiscent of a Republican debate in 2011, when former Texas Gov. Rick Perry failed to remember one of three federal agencies he pledged to eliminate, saying, “Oops.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are arguing for flat tax plans they argue would be fairer to Americans and would ignite growth in the U.S. economy.

Paul says he has several budget plans, all designed to shrink government spending. He seeks a 14.5 percent flat tax.

Paul says he wants a government that’s “really, really small, so small you can barely see it. I want more money in the private sector.”

Cruz seeks a 10 percent flat tax, so “no longer do you have hedge fund billionaires paying less than their secretaries.”

Cruz seeks to eliminate the Internal Revenue Service, as well as the estate tax and payroll taxes.

Says Cruz, “The current system isn’t fair.”

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina says as a cancer survivor she knows better than anyone the importance of people with pre-existing conditions having access to health insurance.

Fiorina brought up her own battle with cancer when talking about her plans for health care reform during the fourth Republican presidential debate Tuesday in Milwaukee.

She says the health care overhaul law championed by President Barack Obama “is failing the very people it’s designed to help.”

Fiorina says the law needs to be repealed to let states manage high-risk pools while allowing the free market to work.

She says, “Let us try the one thing in health care we’ve never tried — the free market.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says Republicans will lose the presidential race if they offer amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Cruz says “we can embrace legal immigration while believing in the rule of law.”

Framing this as an economic issue for many Americans, Cruz is asking how the press would feel if “people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s prescription for economic growth and job creation includes reducing regulations and the corporate tax rate, repealing the president’s health care law and modernizing higher education.

He says during the fourth GOP presidential debate that high corporate tax rates force companies to take jobs out of the country, the health care law discourages businesses from hiring new workers and the existing higher education system doesn’t teach 21st century skills.

Rubio says the government must respond to the country’s ongoing “economic transformation.”

Donald Trump is celebrating a federal appeals court decision undercutting part of an executive order from President Barack Obama that would allow some people in the country illegally to stay.

Trump is also repeating his promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and deporting the millions here illegally.

That’s prompting a sharp rebuke from Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

Trump says: “We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will build a wall.”

Kasich supports a pathway to legal status. He says: “For the 11 million people, c’mon folks. We all know you can’t pick them up and ship them across the border.”

Bush also supports a pathway to legal status, and speaks more to the political dynamic of the divisive issue.

Bush says: “To send them back, 500,000 a month, is just not possible. … The way you win the presidency is you have practical plans.”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he’s faced lies about his life story as part of what he suggests is unprecedented scrutiny.

Several aspects of Carson’s biography have recently come into question, including his statements that he was offered a scholarship to West Point.

Carson did not apply to the U.S. Military Academy, which does not offer scholarships. Instead, West Point does not charge tuition or fees to those who receive an appointment to attend the school.

Carson’s campaign has said he was a top ROTC student in high school, and his supervisors told him they could help him get an appointment.

He says: “I have no problem with being vetted. What I do have a problem with is being lied about and putting it out there as truth.”

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says low interest rates are hurting poor families.

Asked about rising income inequality during the main-stage Republican debate, Paul says the Federal Reserve is partially to blame by keeping interest rates low. He says that “destroys the value of currency.”

Paul also argues that income inequality is worse in cities and states with Democratic leaders, saying “if you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is attacking the Democrats’ stewardship of the economy.

Bush says: “Hillary Clinton has said that Barack Obama’s policies get an ‘A.’ Really?”

He adds at that one in 10 people aren’t working or have given up looking for work. Bush says one in seven people live in poverty and one in five are on food stamps.

Bush adds: “That is not an ‘A.’ It may be the best that Hillary Clinton can do, but it’s not the best America can do.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says he wants to reduce the number of federal regulators, who he says descend “like locusts” and hurt economic growth.

Cruz is touting his plan for a 10 percent flat personal income tax and a 16 percent business tax during the fourth Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee. He calls his proposal “bold and simple.”

Cruz calls economic growth under President Barack Obama “a disaster” but says “it doesn’t have to be.”

He says the economy can be turned around, adding, “We have done it before and with leadership we can do it again.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is opening the Republican debate by reminding voters he’s the only acting executive on stage and telling them he’s the only candidate who knows how to balance the federal budget.

To get there again, he says he’d freeze discretionary spending and cut Medicare growth without eliminating benefits.

He often points to his experience balancing the federal budget while in Congress in the 1990s. He says he “stepped on every toe” in Washington to get to a balanced budget.

Kasich says it’s a moral imperative for politicians to create an environment that promotes job creation and helps lift people out of low-wage jobs.

Sen. Marco Rubio says he wants an America with more welders.

During the main-stage Republican debate, Rubio says people are working hard, but the economy is not providing jobs that pay enough. The answer, he says, is to reform taxes, ease the way for businesses and make higher education more accessible, particularly for vocational training.

Rubio says: “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

The two leaders in the race for the GOP nomination oppose raising the minimum wage.

Billionaire developer Donald Trump says during the prime-time Republican debate that he opposes a $15 minimum wage, enacted Tuesday in his home state, New York.

Trump says we can’t raise the wage “if we are going to compete with the rest of the world.” He says American wages are too high.

Retired surgeon Ben Carson agrees.

Carson says, “People need to be educated on the minimum wage.” He says that every time it is increased, unemployment goes up.

Carson says he appreciates having worked as a lab assistant early in life, and says the experience gave him more than was reflected in the wage.

He says, “I am interested in people being able to enter the job market.”

The fourth prime-time GOP presidential debate is underway, with the first question, about minimum wage, going to billionaire Donald Trump.

It’s the first time fewer than 10 top candidates are sharing the debate stage. At center are the two leaders of the pack, Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Arrayed around them are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The audience features prominent Republicans, including new House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Each of the four Republican candidates onstage is making a very different closing argument about why he is the best qualified candidate to be president.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says he’s the only candidate in the crowded field with a record of cutting the size of government.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says he’s the candidate who will fight for working families.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says he’ll never forget his humble upbringings and will re-energize belief in the American dream.

And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is making the case that he’s the best positioned to defeat Hillary Clinton and unite the country. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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