-- Republican presidential candidates faced off in the first debate of 2016 Thursday night in Charleston, South Carolina, and the gloves came off.
The debate hosted by Fox Business Network included seven candidates –- the fewest number of candidates on the main stage this election season -– Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich.
As expected, Cruz was asked to comment on questions about his eligibility to be president, triggering a heated exchange.
“I’m glad we’re focusing on the important topics of the evening,” Cruz shot back to the moderator.
Here are the best lines of the night:
ON GLOBAL AFFAIRS
JEB BUSH:“If she gets elected her first 100 days instead of setting the agenda she might be going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse. We need to stop that," he said of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Clinton is embroiled in controversy about her use of private email and the security of the server. There is an open investigation into the security of the server, but the FBI said repeatedly that Clinton is not the target.
BEN CARSON: “Well, I am very happy to get a question this early on. I was going to ask you to wake me up when the time came.”
ON LOAN SCANDAL
TED CRUZ: “Well, Maria, thank you for passing on that hit piece on the front page of the New York Times. You know the nice thing about the mainstream media, they don’t hide their views.”
Cruz came under scrutiny for not reporting a loan used to support his 2012 senate campaign, according to the Associated Press. His spokeswoman called the move a "mistake" and said they were seeking information about how to update the records, the AP said.
ON CRUZ’S ‘BIRTHER’ ISSUE
TED CRUZ: “Well, Neil, I’m glad we’re focusing on the important topics of the evening. Now since September, the constitution hasn’t changed. But the poll numbers have.”
Cruz, whose eligibility to run for president was questioned because of his Canadian birth, continued, “Interestingly enough, Donald J. Trump would be disqualified Because, because, Donald’s mother was born in Scotland. She was naturalized. Now Donald --”
“But I was born here,” Donald Trump interjected.
Trump shot back.
“There is a big question mark on your head. And you can’t do that to the party. You really can’t. You can’t do that to the party. You have to have certainty. Even if it was 1% chance and far greater than 1% because wasn’t born -- you have great constitutional lawyers say you can’t run.”
“I hate to interrupt this episode of “Court TV,” Rubio interrupted.
Cruz has maintained he is a "natural born citizen," which is required to run for the presidency.
ON GUN CONTROL
DONALD TRUMP: “The guns don’t pull the trigger. It’s the people that pull the trigger,” he said.
“The American people have rejected your agenda and now you're trying to go around it. That's not right. It's not constitutional, and we are going to kick your rear end out of the White House come this fall,” Christie argued against President Obama's recently unveiled executive actions on guns.
ON TRUMP’S ‘NEW YORK VALUES’
TED CRUZ: “Not a lot of Conservatives come out of Manhattan."
The Texas Sen. first commented on Donald Trump's "New York values" on the "Howie Carr Show," Tuesday.
"Well, look, I think he may shift in his new rallies to play 'New York, New York' because Donald comes from New York and he embodies New York values," Cruz said, when asked what he thought of Trump playing Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." at campaign rallies.
ON TRUMP’S PROPOSAL TO BAN MUSLIMS FROM ENTERING THE US
JEB BUSH: “Mr. Trump, your comment about banning Muslims from entering the country created a firestorm. According to Facebook, it was the most talked about moment online of your entire campaign.”
“With more than 10 million people talking about the issue, is there anything you've heard that makes you want to rethink this position?” Bush continued.
“No,” Trump admitted.
Back in December, Trump called for a 'total and complete shutdown' of Muslims entering the US.
“We don't need a weak person being president of the United States that is -- I tell you what -- we don't need that that is what we have now. We don't need that,” Trump shot back to Jeb Bush while discussing his position on open tariff.
This is not the first time Trump has slammed Bush -- back in September, Trump posted “video proof” on Instagram that Bush's “low energy” is putting supporters to sleep.
ON PRIORITIZING AMERICA'S INTERESTS
DONALD TRUMP: "If I become president, I couldn't care less about my company. It's peanuts."