A reshaped lower tier took the stage in the fourth GOP “undercard” presidential debate in Milwaukee tonight, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee joining former Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Bobby Jindal on the stage. The debate, hosted by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal, focused on economic policy -- from taxes to entitlement reform. Jindal wasn’t afraid to take the gloves off, but Christie aimed to focus on the conversation on Hillary Clinton. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki, who had been included in previous undercard debates, couldn’t reach 1 percent in the four most recent national polls to earn a spot on the stage. Here’s a look at seven moments that mattered:
1. Jindal Lashes Out at “Nice Guy” Christie
Jindal said he “loves” Christie’s wife Mary Pat, but it didn’t stop him from lashing out. Christie kept his cool even when Jindal hit him, saying “records matter.” “I’ll give you a ribbon for participation and a juice box, it's about actually cutting government spending
, not talking about cutting government spending,” Jindal jabbed. Christie, known for his aggressive signature style, did not engage Jindal at all during his attacks, keeping his focus on Hillary Clinton every single time the Louisiana governor attacked him.
2. Christie Proposes Aggressive Foreign Policy Against China
Christie may not have wanted to go head-to-head with his fellow undercard debaters, but he wasn’t shy about attacking both the president and Hillary Clinton, calling their foreign policy “absolutely weak and feckless.” He then detailed how he would take on China if he was in the White House. “If the Chinese commit cyber warfare against us, they are going to see cyber warfare like they have never seen before,” Christie promised. “The first thing I'll do to the Chinese is I'll fly Air Force One over the islands,” he warned.
3. Jindal Attacks Filibustering Senators: “The Cause and the Toilets Get Flushed”
Jindal didn’t only go after his opponents on stage -- he also went after Republicans who weren’t on stage. “We've got four senators running,” Jindal said, referring to Rand Paul
, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham. “They give the long speeches called filibusters, pat themselves on the back,” he said, referring to long filibusters in the Senate from Sen. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. “When they go to relieve themselves, the cause and the toilets get flushed at the same time -- and the American people lose,” he said.
4. Christie Ends On a High Note
Christie used almost the entire debate to focus on Clinton, sounding like a general election candidate. But it was in his closing statement that he really zeroed in. "I saw the most disgraceful thing I've seen this entire campaign a few weeks ago," he started. "Hillary Clinton was asked, the enemy she is most proud of and she said Republicans." Christie was in the undercard debate for the first time, but it was clear he doesn't intend to go home. "In a world where we have Al Qaeda and ISIS, the mullahs in Iran and Vladimir Putin, the woman who asks to run and represent all of United States says that her greatest enemies are people like you in this audience and us here," he said. Of the 18 times Clinton was mentioned in the debate, 13 of them came from Chris Christie, according to an ABC analysis.
5. Jindal Attacks Huckabee Over Arkansas Record
The undercard candidates may mostly agree on issues, but that didn’t stop a face-off between Jindal and Huckabee. “I admire your social views, share the views, your records as governor tells a different story,” Jindal said.
Jindal then listed economic figures from Arkansas saying, “That's not a record of cutting. I'm saying we've actually cut. We’ve reduced the size of our budget. So wanting to cut one thing; actually cutting is a different thing. Facts don't lie.”
6. Huckabee On Poverty: “Nobody Who Is Poor Wants To Be”
Huckabee got personal when asked whether social welfare programs in the United States were “creating a culture of dependency.” “Having grown up poor, I know a little something about it,” Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas, said. “Nobody who is poor wants to be. That's a nonsense statement. And I hear it all the time.” Huckabee has made his opposition to cutting Social Security
and Medicare benefits a major tenet of his campaign. “Those are not entitlements, and that’s not welfare,” Huckabee said of social security and Medicare benefits. “That's an earned benefit, and by gosh, you paid for it, and if the government screwed it up, you shouldn't have to pay the penalty because of an incompetent government.”
7. Santorum Points to General Election: I’m the “Principled Conservative” on Stage
Santorum seemed frustrated to be left out of a back-and-forth between Christie and Jindal over how conservative their records were. “This is a legitimate debate between Chris and Bobby between someone who says he can win in a blue state and someone who says he is a principled conservative,” Santorum said. He raised his hands and paused -- signaling he was the true conservative -- eliciting laughter from the audience. Later, he said he respected Democrats “because they fight,” shouting the final word. “I respect them because they are willing to take it to us.”
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