In the fourth GOP debate Tuesday, Dr. Ben Carson railed against the media for attacking him at every turn and then letting Hillary Clinton completely off the hook when she "lied" about a very serious issue.
Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto asked Carson, "You recently railed against a double-standard in the media, sir, that seems obsessed with inconsistencies and potential exaggerations in your life story, but looked the other way when then it came to Sen. Barack Obama's. Still, as a candidate whose brand has always been trust, are you worried your campaign, which you've always said, sir, is bigger than you, is now being hurt by you?"
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Carson replied, "First of all, thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade. I appreciate that."
As the audience broke out into laughter, he gave a hearty chuckle, himself.
Carson then turned very serious, adding, "The fact of the matter is, we should vet all candidates. I have no problem with being vetted. What I do have a problem with is being lied about. And then, putting that out there as truth."
After waiting for applause to die down, he continued, "I don't even mind that so much, if they do it with everybody, like people on the other side. But, you know, when I look at somebody like Hillary Clinton, who sits there and tells her daughter and a government official that, 'No, this was a terrorist attack,' then tells everybody else that it was a video. Where I came from they call that a lie."
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He said the media's failure to examine Clinton's inconsistency in her account of the Benghazi terrorist attack was much different than the media misinterpreting him when he recalled being offered a scholarship to West Point.
"People who know me know that I'm an honest person," he said.
Watch Carson's comments:
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The debate was hosted by Fox Business News and the Wall Street Journal at the Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The following eight candidates appeared at the main event: Carson, Donald Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
The main debate was moderated by Cavuto, FBN Global Markets Editor Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal Editor in Chief Gerard Baker.
Fox Business News also hosted an undercard debate at 7 p.m. EST featuring the following GOP candidates who performed lower in the polls: former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
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Obama's amnesty and illegal immigration
On Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling effectively stopping Obama's executive amnesty program.
"I was so happy yesterday when I saw that decision come down," Trump said. "That was an unbelievable decision, and we don't have enough of those decisions. … That was a great day. Frankly, we have to stop illegal immigration."
Trump said illegal immigration is hurting America economically.
"We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall. The wall will be built," he said. "If you think walls don't work, all you have to do is ask Israel."
He said people who have come to the U.S. illegally must leave.
Kasich criticized Trump's plan to "ship them back across the border": "If they're law-abiding, they pay a penalty and they can stay ... think about the families."
Trump told him, "You're lucky you struck oil in Ohio."
Trump then noted he is worth billions of dollars and "I don't have to hear from this man, believe me."
Watch the exchange:
Bush chimed in: "Sending 11 million people back is not possible, and it's not embracing American values. Even having this conversation sends a powerful signal. They're doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign when they hear this."
Bush followed that statement by championing a path to citizenship that includes earned legal status.
Cruz took an interesting angle on the economics of immigration, observing, "I will say the politics of it would be very, very different if a bunch of lawyers or bankers were crossing the Rio Grande. Or if a bunch of people with journalism degrees were coming over and driving down the wages in the press."
After pausing for applause, he continued, "Then we would see stories about the economic calamity that is befalling our nation. And I will say for those of us who believe people ought to come to this country legally and we should enforce the law, we’re tired of being told, it is anti-immigrant. It's offensive."
$15 minimum wage
The candidates were asked if they would support a $15 minimum wage.
Trump said taxes and wages are already too high: "We’re not going to be able to compete against the rest of the world. … I would not raise the minimum [wage]."
Carson was asked about his comments supporting varying minimum wages.
"People need to be educated on the minimum wage. Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases. It's particularly a problem in the black community. … That's because of those high wages. If you lower those wages, that comes down."
Carson said he wouldn't raise the minimum wage, arguing that young workers gain a tremendous amount of experience and ascend the ladder of opportunity rather than remaining independent.
Rubio spoke about his family's effort to achieve the American dream. He called raising the minimum wage "a disaster" because it would make American workers "more expensive than a machine."
There were some fireworks when Rubio and Paul exchanged barbs over military spending.
As Rubio said, "Yes, I do want to rebuild the American military," Paul spoke over him, asking, "How is that conservative" to increase spending?
Rubio sharply retorted, "I know that Rand is a committed isolationist," which caused Paul to stop speaking and laugh, as the two men were shown at the same time on the television screen.
"I'm not," Rubio continued, as the crowd oohed and ahhed.
"I believe the world is a stronger and better place," forged ahead Rubio until he was cut off by Paul, exclaiming, "Marco, Marco – how is it conservative to add a trillion-dollar expenditure to the federal government that you're not going to pay for?"
"How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures? You cannot be a conservative if you're going to keep promoting new programs that you're not going to pay for?" charged Paul.
"We can't even have an economy if we're not safe," replied Rubio. "There are radical jihadists in the Middle East beheading people and crucifying Christians. A radical shia cleric in Iran trying to get a nuclear weapon. The Chinese are taking over the South China Sea."
As applause erupted, Rubio added, "Yes, I believe the world is a safer. No, I don't believe. I know the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world."
Before letting the applause die down, Paul responded by addressing Rubio but looking into the camera and saying, "Marco, I do not think we are any safer from bankruptcy court, as we go further and further into debt we become less and less safe. This is the most important thing we're going to talk about tonight. Can you be a conservative and be liberal on military spending? Can you be for unlimited military spending and say, 'Oh I'm going to make the country safe'? No, we need a safe country, But we spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined. I want a strong national defense, but I don't want us to be bankrupt."
Cruz interrupted and added, "There is a middle ground. You think its expensive defending this nation? Try not defending it. You can pay for it and still be fiscally responsible." He then called for ending corporate welfare.
Tax plans: 'What concept would God endorse?'
Cavuto noted that Carson's tax plan is similar to the concept of tithing. However, Trump argues that wealthier citizens should pay a higher rate.
The moderator asked, "Whose concept would God endorse?"
Carson said everyone should pay the same proportion, and he would end all deductions and loopholes.
"The fact is, if you put more money in people's pockets, they will be more generous, not less generous," he said, speaking of charitable giving.
Paul advocated balancing the budget by making across-the-board budget cuts.
"If we get rid of the payroll tax, everybody's going to get a tax cut," he said. He supports 14.5 percent for corporations and individuals.
Cruz said, for the first $30,000 a family of four makes, there would be no tax. Above that, everyone would pay 10 percent across the board. On the business side, he advocated a tax of 16 percent. Cruz said his plan is "border adjustable," meaning exports would be free of the 16 percent tax and imports would pay it.
Rubio promised "a pro-family tax code" so families will be able to afford the cost of living.
"In 35 out of 50 states, child care costs more than college," he said, noting that Americans are struggle to go to work if they don't have child care. Rubio said he would increase the child tax credit.
Paul asked, "Is it fiscally conservative to have a trillion-dollar expenditure?" He called Rubio's child tax credit plan "welfare" and "not very conservative" because he would give money away that families didn't pay to the government.
Trump said, "Each one of those plans is better than the mess we have now."
Obama's Trans Pacific Partnership deal
Trump was asked about his opposition to the mammoth Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade deal the Obama administration has struck with 11 Asian countries.
After Trump affirmed he felt it was "a horrible deal," he was told most economists say trade has boosted growth and every post-war president has favored expanding international trade. So, why would he reverse more than 50 years of U.S. trade policy?
"The TPP is a horrible deal," Trump simply reiterated. "It is a deal that is going to lead to nothing but trouble. It's a deal that was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone."
"It's 5,600 pages long," Trump emphasized. "So complex that nobody's read it. Like Obamacare. Nobody ever read it. They passed it and nobody read it. And look at the mess we have right now. And it will be repealed.
"But, this is one of the worst trade deals and I would, yes, rather not have it. With all of these countries, and all of the bad ones, taking advantage of what the good ones would normally get, I'd rather make individual deals with individual countries. We will do much better.
"We lose a fortune on trade. The United States loses with everybody. We're losing now over $500 billion in terms of imbalance with China. Seventy-five billion dollars a year imbalance with Japan. By the way, Mexico? Fifty-billion dollars a year imbalance.
"So I must say, Gerard, I think it's a terrible deal. I love trade. I am a free-trader a hundred percent. But we need smart people making the deals. And we don't have smart people making the deals."
He added, currency manipulation was a horrible problem not even discussed in the agreement. He called currency manipulation "the single great weapon" used by other nations.
As WND reported, TPP has been endorsed by Carson and Rubio.
Carson was skeptical of the deal back in June but announced his support on Friday, the day after the Obama administration published the text of the mammoth trade deal.
Carson spokesman Doug Watts told the Wall Street Journal the candidate "believes the agreement does help to level the playing field in key markets and is important to improve our ties to trading partners in Asia as a counterbalance to China’s influence in the region," and that Carson is "now inclined to support TPP, with reservations."
'Kiddie' debate highlights
In the early undercard debate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared to steal the show.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal blasted Republicans for failing to cut spending, even after promising to do so: "The reason we keep losing nationally is we try to be cheaper versions of the Democratic Party."
"Here's a dirty little secret," Jindal said, and he ripped Republicans on the stage for talking about cutting spending, but doing nothing when it mattered most.
Mike Huckabee countered Jindal's claim that the other GOP candidates haven't made cuts, arguing that he made many while he served as Arkansas governor. Jindal challenged Huckabee.
Christie jumped into the fray, pivoting his fire on the Democratic frontrunner. His comments stole the show:
"For the people who are out there right now, I want to guarantee you one thing. Real clearly. If you think that Mike Huckabee won't be the kind of president who will cut back spending, or Chris Christie, or John Kasich, wait 'til you see what Hillary Clinton will do to this country, and how she will drown us in debt."
As the crowd erupted in applause, he added, "She is the real adversary tonight and we better stay focused, as Republicans, on her."
"Hillary Clinton is coming for your wallet everybody," he said. "Don't worry about Huckabee or Gov. Jindal. Worry about her."
Later in the debate, Christie was asked how he'd handle China, which is stealing U.S. technology, pirating intellectual property, hacking into computers and spying on American corporations and citizens.
The governor once again turned his sights on the administration, saying, "Remember why we're in the position we're in with China, because an absolutely weak and feckless foreign policy that was engineered by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. That's why we're in the position we're in."
"The Chinese don't take us seriously, and why should they?" he asked over applause. "They hacked into the American government's personnel file and took millions of records, in cyber-warfare against this country. I'm one of the victims of that hack. They took my Social Security number, my fingerprints. As a former United States Attorney, that was on file in there.
"And what has this president done? Not one thing. Let me be really clear about what I would do. If the Chinese commit cyber-warfare against us, they are going to see cyber-warfare like they have never seen before. And that is a closed society in China, where they are hiding information from their own people. The information we take? We'll make sure all the Chinese people see it. Then we'll have some real fun in Beijing when we start showing them how they're spending their money in China."
Watch Christie's comments on China:
Carson and Trump: Still close in the polls
According to Fox, Republican contenders will be asked questions concerning economic issues, domestic issues and foreign policy.
Notably, both leading GOP candidates are political outsiders. Trump, a billionaire real-estate developer and reality TV star, studied economics at the University of Pennsylvania. Carson, an outspoken critic of Obamacare and the first surgeon to successfully separate twins who were joined at the head, spent nearly three decades as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.
Trump has a tight 0.4 lead over Carson, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average as of Nov. 4.
Most of the recent polls have the two contenders neck-and-neck. A Nov. 4 McClatchy/Marist poll has Carson leading by just one point, and a Nov. 3 Fox News poll shows Trump ahead by three points.
The two contenders are well ahead of the rest of the GOP pack in the RealClearPolitics averages. Sen. Marco Rubio garnered 11.8 percent (up from 8 percent during the third debate). Sen Ted Cruz came in at 9.6 percent (up from 4 percent). Jeb Bush dropped to 6 percent (down from 7 percent), and Sen. Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina and Gov. John Kasich all fell to 3 percent (down from 4 percent, 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
For the 12 trailing GOP contenders, the question is whether any of them can break out of the pack by generating a memorable moment that will leave a lasting and positive impression with voters, despite the long shadow cast by Trump and Carson.