Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders face off in first 2016 Democratic debate, but trade few punches

Hillary Clinton showed why she remains the Democratic front-runner with a confident and forceful first debate performance Tuesday night — and got a big assist when her main rival said people are tired of hearing about her "damn emails." After Clinton called her use of a private email server a "mistake" and "not the best choice," Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders came to her defense, telling a smiling Clinton that "the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails." The comment got a laugh and a "Thank you, Bernie!" from the former secretary of state as she pumped his hand. Clinton faced scrutiny for her opposition to some Wall Street reforms, and she took plenty of heat on foreign policy. But Clinton turned aside most attacks while laying into Republicans in a strong overall debate performance, laying out her contrasts with Sanders while defending her liberal bona fides, her main goal for the night. GREENMAN: HILLARY CLINTON'S POSITIONS IN FIRST DEBATE MAY COME BACK TO HAUNT HER IN GENERAL ELECTION "I don't take a backseat to anyone when it comes to progressive experience and progressive commitment," she said early on. "I'm a progressive, but I'm a progressive that knows how to get things done." Her decades of experience on the debate stage and deep policy experience shined, as she showed she can be a champion of the left and handle tough questions without getting annoyed or diving too deep on policy details. Clinton flexed her partisan muscles to great effect, ripping Republicans who oppose "big government" programs like paid leave and healthcare while battling against abortion. "They don't mind having big government to interfere with a woman's right to choose and to try to take down Planned Parenthood. They're fine with big government when it comes to that. I'm sick of it," she said to cheers. Continue Reading

Ben Carson Reacts to GOP Debate, His Surging Poll Numbers

Dr. Ben Carson told Sean Hannity tonight that his surge in the polls means that people are actually listening to what the candidates are saying and recognizing the failed policies of Democrats. Carson said that his lack of political experience isn't a negative, as the "political class" would have people believe. He acknowledged that it's important to be surrounded by experienced people, but said that wisdom is the most important quality in a leader. "Wisdom is very hard to come across," Carson said. "There are a lot of fools who have Ph.D.s." Watch the "Hannity" interview above. Luntz Focus Group Overwhelmingly Turned Off By Trump at GOP Debate Debate Highlights: Megyn Challenges Trump, Paul and Christie Get Heated Who Won the Primetime GOP Debate? Analysts Weigh In Megyn to Trump: When Did You Actually Become a Republican? Continue Reading

Eighth GOP debate: Highlights from New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Three days before the New Hampshire primary, the Republican candidates faced off on the debate stage at Saint Anselm College.The eighth debate for the GOP field marked the return of Donald Trump, who boycotted the Fox News debate on Jan. 28, days before he went on to lose the Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz. Cruz and Trump were joined on stage by Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, John Kasich and Jeb Bush.Here are all the highlights; all times are Eastern.10:38 p.m.: Closing statements:John Kasich notes he has done more than 100 town halls in New Hampshire and cites his message that is both conservative and positive.Chris Christie says he puts the people first and cites his experience as prosecutor and governor.Jeb Bush celebrates Ronald Reagan's birthday and says he has the "proven record" to move Reagan's vision forward.Ben Carson says the media has tried to ignore him, but he's still here— and he's not going anywhere.Marco Rubio talks about his kids and says they remind him of what he's fighting for — uniting the party to make the nation a better place for all families.Ted Cruz says he is the only Republican candidate who has actually stood up to the government— notes his opposition to ethanol subsidies in Iowa, where he won the caucuses.Donald Trump — who accuses Cruz of "getting Ben Carson's votes" in Iowa — says if he is president, "we will win, we will win, and we will win."And we're out.10:31 p.m.: Super Bowl picks. Yawn. Most of the candidates went with Carolina, though Jeb Bush stuck up for Denver because quarterback Peyton Manning likes him.10:25 p.m.: Social issues: Marco Rubio says he respects supporters of gay marriage, but "I believe deeply" in traditional message. As for abortion, Rubio says he comes down "on the side of life;" he says the Democrats are "extremists" because they oppose any restrictions on abortion.Jeb Bush says he is the "most pro-life Continue Reading

Fourth Democratic debate: Highlights from South Carolina

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley met for their fourth debate Sunday evening — marking their final face-off before the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary.Catch up on our live blog for all the highlights; all times are Eastern. 10:49 p.m.In a closing question, to all three candidates: What haven’t you gotten a chance to say tonight?O’Malley: They haven’t discussed immigration reform and the shameful treatment of hedge fund company treatment of Puerto Ricans or drug traffickers in Honduras and El Salvador. We’re on the threshold of a new American century of prosperity, says O’Malley.Clinton: She’s spent a lot of time this week “being outraged” about what’s happening in Flint, Mich. “The governor of that state acted as though he didn’t really care,” she said, citing the impact in particular on minority kids. “If the kids in a rich suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water” there would have been action, she said.Sanders calls for the resignation of the governor of Michigan. Then he pivots to his core message on ending a corrupt campaign finance system, including getting rid of super PACS and the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. We have to bring millions of young people and working people into the system. The U.S. belongs “to all of us and not just a handful of wealthy contributors,” says Sanders. 10:42 p.m.Clinton is asked what role her husband, Bill Clinton, will have in her administration. “It’ll start at the kitchen table. We’ll see how it goes from there,” she says. She’ll ask his advice and use him as a “goodwill emissary,” she says.Sanders, asked about recent comments calling Bill Clinton’s past transgressions with a White House intern “deplorable,” says the question is annoying. Continue Reading

Third Democratic debate: Highlights from New Hampshire

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley met for the third time Saturday night in a debate held at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. The debate, hosted by ABC and the New Hampshire Union Leader, was moderated by David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC News.Here are the highlights; all times are Eastern. 10:44 p.m.Closing statements:Sanders begins by praising his competitors. “On our worst day we have a lot more to offer the American people that the right-wing extremists.” He cites his biography, his father having come from Poland with no money. His mother’s dream was to get out of their rent-controlled apartment, something she never lived to see. But they did go to college. “I know something about economic anxiety,” he said. That’s why we will “bring about a political revolution.” The U.S. belongs “to all of us, not just a handful of billionaires.”O’Malley also cites his family and children, saying there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to give them a safer and healthier future. He cites immigration reform, investing in infrastructure, debt-free college and confronting terrorism. He also cites climate change as “the other great challenge we have.” Our country needs “new leadership” to lead us out of these polarizing times.Clinton says if the next president is a Republican, “we know what will happen.” The rights of many groups, including women, gays and workers will be at risk. Social Security may face privatization. Veterans may see the VA privatized. Planned Parenthood will be defunded. “The list goes on because the differences are so stark,” she said. “This is a watershed election.” That’s why it’s so important to have a Democrat in the White House, said Clinton. “I want to make sure every single child has a chance Continue Reading

Sixth GOP debate: Highlights from South Carolina

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — Seven Republican candidates met Thursday night for their sixth debate of the campaign — and their first face-off of 2016 — with just 18 days to go until the Iowa caucuses.The prime-time lineup included Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich. Earlier in the evening, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum met for the undercard debate, which Rand Paul boycotted.All times are Eastern.11:19 p.m.: Final statements (finally!)Kasich says he wants to "give voice" to the kinds of working people he grew up with; he again touts his experience as governor of Ohio.Bush says you can count on him to keep the nation "safer, stronger, and freer." He promotes his experience as governor of Florida.Christie hits President Obama for his State of the Union Address, saying the president is living in "fantasy land" and doesn't understand people's pain; he vows to make America "more exceptional" and says he can beat Hillary Clinton.Carson says too many are angry at how the American Dream seems to be slipping away; he says it won't be solved by "traditional politics."Rubio says rights don't come from the government, but from God, but President Obama — and Hillary Clinton — only want to expand government; he says he will reclaim the American Dream.Cruz cites a new film about the 2012 attack on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya; he says the incident reflects Obama's lack of seriousness about fighting radical Islam. "This will end" when he is president, Cruz said.Trump cites the pictures of U.S. troops detained by Iranians. When he is president, Trump says, "we will win on everything we do."11:13 p.m.: Bush says the fight between Rubio and Cruz — two "back-bench" senators — illustrates "the mess in Washington, D.C."11:07 p.m.: More than two hours in, the immigration issue surfaces Continue Reading

Fifth GOP debate: Highlights from Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — The Republican presidential candidates gathered for their fifth debate Tuesday night as the race enters the final stretch before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses.This time around, the main stage featured Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul. (George Pataki, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham squared off in the undercard debate earlier in the evening.)Here are the highlights; all times are Eastern.11:05 p.m.: Closing statements:Paul says debt is weakening the nation, and he is the only "fiscal conservative" in the race.Kasich notes that no Republican has ever won the presidency without carrying the state of Ohio — and he is the governor of Ohio.Christie (again) stressed his background as a U.S. attorney in the wake of 9/11 — terrorism "is no theoretical to me," he says. "It's real."Fiorina says she wants to "take our country back," including from a corrupt government run by a "professional political class."Bush says he will keep the country safer, stronger and freer than his opponents will. "I deliver real results," the former Florida governor says.Rubio says the nation is "insecure" in the face of terrorism and a falter economy; he pledges to "rebuild this country."Cruz says he has "judgment, strength, clarity and trust" and invokes the spirit of Ronald Reagan.Carson says he wants to preserve American "exceptionalism."Trump says "our country doesn't win anymore" and "we have to change our whole way."10:53 p.m.: Trump reaffirms his plan to support the Republican nominee — he thinks it will be him — and not run as an independent. Says Trump: "I will do everything in my power to beat Hilary Clinton."10:50 p.m.: Trump and Cruz decline the opportunity to attack one another.Trump says that while he once called Cruz kind of a "maniac," he would still consider him for a running mate: "He's just fine. Don't Continue Reading

11th GOP debate: Highlights from Detroit

DETROIT — The four remaining Republican presidential candidates — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich — met for their 11th debate on Thursday night in the Motor City, five days before the Michigan primary.Here are all of the highlights; all times are Eastern.11 p.m.: And we're done — another night of attacks on Trump. Will it make any difference? We'll see when more primaries roll around.10:59 p.m.: Closing statements:Kasich stresses his experience as Ohio governor.Rubio says he can meet the nation's challenges (and does not mention Trump).Cruz stresses national security; he also does not mention Trump.Trump says he will "bring jobs back to the United States" and strengthen the military.10:55 p.m.: Candidates are asked: Will you support the nominee, even if it's Trump?Rubio: Yes; the Democrats are worse.Cruz: Yes, because he gave his word he would.Kasich: Yes — but he predicts he will be the nominee anyway.Trump is asked whether he would back another nominee, and he says, eventually, yes.10:49 p.m.: The topic of Vladimir Putin resurfaces.Kasich is asked about an ad in which his campaign suggested that Trump might name Putin his running mate. Kasich says it was just a joke and talks about how he would handle Russia and Putin.10:44 p.m.: Rubio says Trump simply doesn't understand foreign policy.Trump replies of Rubio: "Believe me, he is not a leader." He also says people will do what he tells them to, drawing some catcalls from the audience.Rubio replies that Trump did not discuss policy and only engages in personal attacks. He asks Trump, "will you give us a detailed answer on foreign policy?"The two also argue about Vladimir Putin.10:39 p.m.: Trump and Cruz argue over Chief Justice John Roberts.Trump calls Cruz Roberts' biggest supporter, and Cruz replies that "Donald has a tenuous relationship with the truth."As they argue, Cruz tells Trump: Continue Reading

10th GOP debate: Highlights from Houston

HOUSTON — In their final face-off before Super Tuesday, the five Republican candidates — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson — took the stage in Texas for their 10th primary debate.Here are all the highlights; all times are Eastern.10:53 p.m.: Well, it's over: One of the angriest, most argumentative debates in memory, as Trump, Cruz and Rubio yelled at each other over many issues — and targeted many Super Tuesday voters.10:48 p.m.: Final statements:Trump plays up the fact he is a businessman, not one of the politicians — "they're all talk and no action; nothing gets done."Cruz says he will reverse President Obama's policies in a variety of areas.Rubio, poking at Trump, says the time for "silliness" and "games" is over: "The votes are starting to count."Kasich touts his experience as governor and congressman, saying it gives him economic and foreign policy expertise.Carson says he can "heal, inspire, and revive America."10:42 p.m.: Rubio says Puerto Rico needs to "get its house in order" in order to stave off its many debts; bankruptcy is not the answer.10:40 p.m.: Trump is asked: Why not a wall at Canada's border?That border is longer, Trump says, and doesn't have as many problems as the Southern border. Canada "is not our problem," Trump says.10:36 p.m.: Rubio and Cruz argue about Apple.Rubio criticizes Apple for refusing the FBI access to a phone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters, saying "their brand is not superior to the national security of America."Cruz says Rubio has been on both sides of the issue and that Apple should not defy a court order.Kasich wonders where President Obama has been on the FBI/Apple dispute.10:33 p.m.: Trump and Cruz really go after each other, basically accusing each other of being liars."This is a lot of fun up here," Trump says — and calls Cruz "a basket case."Now the trio is arguing with moderator Wolf Blitzer — this is getting a little Continue Reading

12th Republican debate: Highlights from Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich gathered at the University of Miami on Thursday night for their 12th debate, ahead of next week's primaries in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio.Catch up on all the highlights here; all times are Eastern.10:57 p.m.: Final statements:Kasich, needing a win in Ohio, says he will continue to run a positive campaign and "raise the bar for presidential politics."Rubio, needing a win in Florida, reminds the crowd he hails from Miami, and he pledges to lead a new generation of leadership.Cruz mocks Trump as "the son of a businessman" before pledging to be the most reliable conservative in the race.Trump, making a unity pledge, says the party will embrace millions of new voters if they embrace him.And we're out.10:50 p.m.: Trump says he can be flexible, but he declines to discuss on which issues: "It depends on what comes up — you never know."Kasich says he doesn't talk theory — he talks about things he has done as member of Congress from and governor of Ohio.10:45 p.m.: Trump says he has not decided whether he would take outside contributions during the general election.Cruz assails the "Washington cartel," and that Trump has been a part of it.Trump says Cruz is backed by often-corrupt super PACs.10:41 p.m.: Trump says he's going to have a majority of delegates by the time the convention rolls around; otherwise, whoever has the most delegates should be nominated.Cruz says people are having "fevered dreams" of a brokered convention, but it would be a disaster. Says only he or Trump will get enough delegates — and if Trump gets the nomination, Hillary Clinton will win the presidency.Trump says he's beaten Cruz in 13 contests — to Cruz's eight — and he will beat Clinton. "I haven't even started on her yet." he says.Rubio notes he didn't do very well Tuesday but will keep fighting for his supporters.10:39 p.m.: Kasich says Continue Reading