Republican Presidential Debate: 9 Moments That Mattered

It's the last pitch the GOP candidates make to NH voters ahead of the primary.

ByABC News
February 6, 2016, 11:33 PM

MANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- With the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary just three days away, the leading members of the Republican presidential field gathered on a debate stage in the Granite State Saturday night to draw distinctions between themselves and offer what amounted to closing arguments to voters here.

Moderated by “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir and “This Week” co-anchor and Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz, the debate featured heated exchanges among the seven candidates invited to appear: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump.

Here are nine moments that mattered at the debate, hosted by ABC News and partners WMUR, the Independent Journal Review the Republican National Committee and held at Saint Anselm College:

1. Christie Riles Up Rubio

A fiery exchange erupted early in the debate when Christie attacked Rubio, arguing that the Florida senator is too inexperienced to be president.

“That's not leadership. That's truancy,” Christie said, taking a swipe at Rubio’s attendance record in the Senate.

Rubio pushed back, saying that when New Jersey was hit with a snowstorm in January, Christie “didn’t even want to go back.”

“The shame is that you would actually criticize somebody for showing up to work,” Christie said.

2. Trump Says He’ll Save People "Dying On The Street"

If elected, Trump said he would repeal Obamacare and replace it “something so much better.”

Without going into too many specifics, Trump said that his plan would make people “compete” for insurance in the free market -- a move he said would prevent people from lying “on the street dying.”

“We're going to take care of people that are dying on the street,” he pledged. “You're not going to let people die, sitting in the middle of a street in any city in this country.”

3. Carson and Cruz Re-Litigate Iowa Caucuses Controversy

Carson hit Cruz over his campaign’s attempt to suggest that the former neurosurgeon was suspending his campaign on the day of the Iowa caucuses.

“Washington ethics basically says if it's legal, you do what you need to do in order to win,” Carson said. “That's not my ethics. My ethics is, you do what's right.”

On stage, Cruz apologized to Carson, but did not commit to firing the members of his campaign team who took the actions: “When this transpired, I apologized to him then, and I do so now,” Cruz said. “Ben, I'm sorry.”

4. Rubio on Repeat

Rubio drew criticism after using a similar line during the debate again...and again...and again.

"And let's dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing. He knows exactly what he's doing," Rubio said.

When Rubio started the line again, Christie knocked him for it: “There it is. The memorized 25-second speech.”

But that didn't stop the Florida senator from completing the line a third time: “We are not facing a president that doesn't know what he's doing. He knows what he is doing.”

And a fourth: “I think anyone who believes that Barack Obama isn't doing what he's doing on purpose doesn't understand what we're dealing with here, okay?” Rubio said.

5. Jeb’s Millionaire Moment

Bush said he’d like to have more top earners in response to a question of whether America should tax its richest.

“I’d like to see more millionaires,” Bush said. “I think we need to grow more millionaires. We need to create a prosperity society where people can rise up.”

6. Candidates Discuss Torture