As the Republican presidential field narrows, the remaining seven candidates who made it onto ABC News’ debate stage were locked in constant competition for the spotlight Saturday night. It made for some particularly pointed exchanges, half-baked policy plans, and a lot of applause lines that didn’t quite land.
Here are some of the best one-liners of the GOP debate.
Christie hits Rubio for his canned debate answers
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was out for blood during the debate and had his sights set on Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for much of the night.
Early on in the night, Christie hit Rubio for parroting the same “scripted” line about President Barack Obama three times in just four minutes, verbatim. It was a slip-up that many debate watchers skewered as a major meltdown.
When Rubio tried to return fire, Christie shot back: “This is what Washington D.C. does. The drive-by shot at the beginning with incorrect and incomplete information and then the memorized 25-second speech. That is exactly what his advisers gave him.”
Christie on being “pro-life” beyond the womb
In response to a question about drug policing and the heroin epidemic, Christie said his pro-life beliefs extend to full-grown adults in the grips of addiction.
“It’s a disease, and we need to get people the treatment they need,” he said. “Because I’m pro-life. And I’m pro life, not just for the nine months in the womb. I’m pro-life for when they get out and it’s a lot more complicated.”
Kasich on his White House plans: Buy a seat belt!
Ohio Gov. John Kasich offered up an ambitious laundry list of policy ideas he would tackle during his first 100 days in office if elected President, including securing the border, starting to fix social security and cutting taxes for both individuals and corporations.
“So anybody who is here tonight, if I get elected President, head out tomorrow and buy a seat belt, because there’s going to be so much happening in the first 100 days, it’s going to make your head spin,” he said.
Trump would bring back waterboarding and “a lot worse”
Donald Trump said because there are “people chopping the heads off of many other people” in the Middle East, he would absolutely allow for waterboarding should he be elected.
“I would bring back waterboarding and I’d bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” the billionaire real estate mogul said.
Bush claims Trump tried to swipe an old lady’s land
In response to a question about using eminent domain for major public projects, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush accused Trump of trying to use eminent domain for his own commercial purposes.
“What Donald Trump did was use eminent domain to try to take the property of an elderly woman on the strip in Atlantic City. That is not public purpose. That is downright wrong,” Bush said to applause from the crowd.
Trump tried to cut in with an insult, saying, “Jeb wants to be a tough guy tonight.”
But Bush soldiered on, saying Trump tried to seize the woman’s property for a “limousine parking lot for his casinos.”
Trump’s plan to keep people from “dying in the streets”
Asked about his places to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump said he wants a plan “where people compete, free enterprise.”
“What I do say is, there will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying and as a Republican, I don’t want that to happen,” he answered. “And I think everybody on this stage would have to agree, you’re not going to let people die, sitting in the middle of a street in any city in this country.”
Rubio on abortion: I’d rather lose this race than compromise
In what was widely called a bad debate night for Rubio, the Florida senator said he would sign any abortion bill that saves lives if elected.
“I believe that all human life is worthy of protection. The issue of life is not a political issue. I want to be frank. I would rather lose an election than be wrong on the issue of life,” Rubio said.
Rubio also said a woman’s freedom to choose “what to do with her body” is “a real right” that must be balanced with the rights of “an unborn human child.”
Trump gets in another shot at Cruz for stealing Carson votes
As the debate drew to a close, Trump managed to ding Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) one last time for his campaign’s tactics on the night of the Iowa caucuses, when the campaign circulated news that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race.
“That’s because he got Ben Carson’s votes, by the way, but we won’t say that,” Trump cracked after Cruz trumpeted his Iowa victory.