Reactions and analysis of the end of the GOP debate.

GOP debate update: Final thoughts

Reporting courtesy of CUI staffers: Lorelle Lynch, Andrew Haubner, Noelle Coultrip, Jake Mauff, Sydney Worth, Nicole McNulty, Maggie Wagner, Sarah Zahra, Diego Romero, Nicolas Sanchez and Graham Crawford.

Ben Carson

Despite being the frontrunner heading into the debate, Carson struggled at times articulating his economic plan, and was, for the most part, forgettable. He proverbially had his feet put to the fire by CNBC moderator Becky Quick on his tax plan, and was also pressed on how he associated himself with a controversial nutritional supplement company.

It started in the beginning of the debate, when Carson was asked about his greatness weakness. His response was he had a hard time seeing himself as president until “hundreds of thousands of people began to tell me that I needed to do it.”

He didn’t make a comprehensive case to be the GOP’s frontrunner, and candidates and moderators essentially ignored him when the shouting match began. In a time when it was absolutely necessary for Carson to set himself apart, he all but faded into the backdrop in the Coors Events Center.

Donald Trump

Trump condemned campaigns on both sides of the political spectrum for utilizing Super PACs. He claimed that this contributes to campaign dishonesty, something he aims to avoid by self-funding. The plight of Super PACs, Trump claimed, leads to “bad decisions by good people.” Trump also claimed to have the least amount of funding for his campaign, but the most to show for it.

Turning toward the issue of gun laws, Trump acknowledged that he has a permit to carry, and occasionally does so. “I like to be unpredictable,” said Trump. He stated that gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and the mentally ill.”

Trump displayed his characteristic New York brashness throughout the debate, but the spotlight didn’t focus on his antics the whole time. He adhered to the proposals that have been outlined in his agenda since the beginning of his campaign, but came up against criticism for his involvement in the financial problems of Atlantic City as well as his tax plan promises.

Carly Fiorina

After a long stretch of inactivity, Fiorina was asked about whether the federal government should offer benefits and 401Ks to workers. She said that the government should be smaller and stay out of minimum wages and the economy overall. Toward the end of the debate, she was asked fewer and fewer questions and struggled to get in a word during arguments. She eventually convinced the moderator to let her speak, then she talked about cutting the government down to basics and letting the people know where their money is being spent.

For her final statement, she said that while others have promised to make reforms, things have not changed, and that now more than ever, America needs a proven leader who has gone from “secretary to CEO.” She promised that she’s Hillary Clinton’s worst nightmare, and that people can’t wait to see a debate between the two.

Ted Cruz

Cruz finally addressed his issues with the Federal Reserve. His main point was to say he would audit the Fed, mentioning that he cosponsored the bill introduced by fellow Republican candidate Rand Paul. Then, Cruz mentioned that he would like the Federal Reserve to be backed by gold. The United States hasn’t used the gold standard since 1933.

In his closing statement, he again appealed to the crowd. He mentioned times where he was a leading voice in some political issues, including his campaign to defund Planned Parenthood.

The plan that he laid out in the Wall Street Journal showcases more of the Tea Party ideals that Cruz employs. He would abolish the death tax and the alternative minimum tax and repeal Obamacare.

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