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Republican presidential hopefuls debate in Colorado

John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio,

John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul take the stage during the CNBC Republican presidential debate at the University of Colorado, Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo. Credit: AP

The third debate for Republican presidential candidates has concluded in Boulder, Colorado.

The participants were businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

The event, broadcast by CNBC, had a financial and economic theme: "Your Money, Your Vote: The Presidential Debate on the Economy."

Here's a recap of the night:

10:20 p.m.

In continuing closing statements, Carson vowed to fight "political correctness" and praised his competitors for not falling into "traps" from the media panel.

Bush said the country needed a "unifier" not a "divider," echoing a campaign line by his brother, former President George W. Bush.

Rubio invoked his family's immigrant roots, but said they didn't rely on government help to succeed. He talked about building the economy for the next generation.

Huckabee also talked of later generations, but framed as not wanting to leave economic rubble for his grandchildren.

Kasich, getting the final word, decided to shift his tone from anger at the beginning to optimism at the end.

"We need to rebuild our families. . . . We need to know who our neighbors are," Kasich said. "America is great from the bottom up."

10:15 p.m.

The forum moved to closing statements.

"Are you serious about this election?" Christie asked. "I am deadly serious about changing this culture," the New Jersey governor said, referring to the federal government.

Paul promised a much smaller federal government.

Cruz said he's the lone conservative who has really tried to shake up Congress.

Fiorina portrayed herself as best to face Hillary Clinton, telling voters that "in your heart of hearts you cannot wait to see a debate between Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton."

Trump repeated his campaign line: "Our country doesn't win any more," referring to trade, the Islamic State group and Iran. He then used the rest of his time to complain that the debate originally was scheduled for three hours, but claimed he got them to shorten it.

10:10 p.m.

Paul said his competitors aren't being honest when they say that Medicare and Social Security aren't threatened and that long-term changes aren't needed.

"You can't do nothing and that's what I hear from some people," Paul said.

He then outlined some general ideas.

"The age will have to rise, that's the only way to fix Medicaid and Medicare," Paul said. "You also will have to means test Social Security."

He added on Social Security: "There is no money to pay [benefits] . . . only a promise to pay."

Christie agreed, saying that the age eligibility would have to rise.

Carson has said health savings accounts could be used to replace Medicare, triggering some criticism.

He has said people should use their intellect rather than relying on the government's intellect to determine how to spend their money.

Kasich said an overhaul would be needed. He said in Ohio "we took Medicaid growth from 10 percent to two and a half percent."

"You can't just do it by growing the economy," Kasich said, adding that a program needs "incentives to treat them when they're healthy, not just when they're sick."

10 p.m.

The debate took an unexpected turn -- to fantasy football.

Jeb Bush, who plays fantasy football, said the popular pastime may have grown to the point of requiring regulation because it has become more akin to gambling.

"I think this has become something we need to look at," Bush said. "This has become day trading without regulation."

Christie saw an opening and jumped in, saying it was a waste of time for the government to worry about fantasy football when it should focus on the Middle East, the Islamic State group and other threats.

"Fantasy football! We have ISIS and al-Qaida attacking us and we're talking about fantasy football," Christ exclaimed. "Enough on fantasy football. Let the people play. Who cares!"

When CNBC's John Harwood tried to cut in, Christie said: "Even in New Jersey what you're doing is called rude."

9:55 p.m.

Mike Huckabee sought to turn his political experience in Arkansas -- former home of Bill and Hillary Clinton -- as an appeal to Republican voters and a distinction from his rivals.

"You know how everyone on this stage has an 'I'm the only guy' " statement, Huckabee said. "I'm the only guy up here who has" fought and won against the Clintons in Arkansas.

"I think that oughta be worth something," Huckabee said.

9:50 p.m.

Moving on to his comments on gun control, Trump was asked if he would be comfortable if his employees carried weapons at work.

"Yes, I might feel more comfortable. I probably would," Trump said, before pivoting to praising the military and criticizing "gun-free zones" at businesses and schools as "feeding" zones for "sickos."

Trump went to say he has a gun permit, likes to carry a weapon often but likes to be "unpredictable" about when he does.

9:45 p.m.

Here is a breakdown of how much time each candidate got to speak as of the end of the second segment of the debate, as detailed by National Public Radio:

Fiorina 7:09; Rubio 5:11; Cruz 5:10; Kasich 5:00; Carson 4:21; Trump 4:05; Christie 3:37; Huckabee 2:50; Bush 2:46; Paul 2:03.

9:40 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been out of the discussion much of the night - even to the point of standing and watching as Cruz invaded some of his territory by calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve.

Paul finally got a chance to talk about his tax plan -- he said his tax plan is unique in getting rid of payroll taxes.

But even then, Cruz jumped in to cut him off and praise the plan -- which may be seen as a tactic to woo Paul supporters down the line.

9:35 p.m.

Huckabee used a popular story in Wednesday's news as an analogy about government and spending.

"If you saw that blimp that got cut loose in Maryland today, it's the perfect example of government," Huckabee said. He called it a "bag of gas," like the federal government, it ran away and then "got too big" to "get rid of."

9:30 p.m.

After Trump indirectly attacked his opponents using fundraising "Super PACs" (political action committees), Rubio turned the dialogue into a criticism of the "mainstream media."

"The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC, the mainstream media," Rubio said, perhaps following the lead of Cruz, who had garnered applause earlier after bashing the debate panel.

Rubio said Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton was "exposed as a liar" over the Benghazi scandal, but the media portrayed it as her "greatest week" of the campaign.

9:25 p.m.

As the panel turned back to the Iowa front-runner, Carson was asked why he serves on board of gay-friendly Costco, given his opposition to gay marriage.

He said he's not a "homophobe" despite his opposition to same-sex marriage.

"I believe that our Constitution protects everyone. . . . There's no reason you can't be fair to the gay community," Carson said.

Carson also called it "total propaganda" that he worked for a supplement company that claimed it could cure cancer. He said he made some speeches but was not affiliated with it. Asked about his photo on the home page, Carson said it was done without his permission.

The company Carson referred to was Mannatech, a Texas-based supplement maker that touted "glyconutrients" and whose claims have been challenged in a number of lawsuits. In recent articles, Carson's campaign said he accepted speaking engagements through a booking agent and had no real connection to the company.

9:20 p.m.

Rubio faced a series of questions about messy personal finances, student debt and campaign financing. He said he faced a huge college debt -- but the moderator noted that he wrote a book that significantly boosted his personal finances.

Rubio acknowledged that, saying: "I make a lot more than the average American. Imagine how hard it is for these people out there."

He also added: "I'm not worried about my finances, I'm worried about the finances of everyday Americans."

9:13 p.m.

Bush said too many politicians in Washington aren't willing to cut spending. Though he said that includes Republicans, he especially took aim at Democrats.

"You find a Democrat willing to cut spending 10 dollars, I'll give them a warm kiss," Bush said.

After that, Fiorina fielded a question about regulations and said that the federal government too often intervenes and causes "problems." She blamed it for the problem of ballooning college debt.

9:10 p.m.

The panel turned to Christie -- a former federal prosecutor -- asking about whether General Motors personnel should have been put in jail over a faulty ignition switch scandal that resulted in more than 100 deaths.

"You bet," Christie said.

He then said that President Barack Obama had politicized the federal Department of Justice.

9:05 p.m.

After the first commercial break, Trump was asked to defend declaring bankruptcy on his Atlantic City casino and resort. He blamed it on the fortunes of the city, not himself.

"Atlantic City has gone bad. Chris can tell you that," Trump said, referring to New Jersey's Christie. "I'm not blaming Chris, but he can tell you."

Trump said he used the options available to him, just as many business owners have.

"Almost every hotel in Atlantic City has been in bankruptcy. . . . I have used that for my advantage," Trump said, before adding: "Boy, am I good at solving debt problems. No one can solve them like me."

8:55 p.m.

Moving on to Social Security and Medicare, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he had a plan for entitlement reform as a way to attack the debt. He said politicians need to admit to seniors that the government is "stealing" from them.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he'd protect benefits for seniors: "This is a matter not of math, this is a matter of morality."

Cruz said seniors' benefits shouldn't change, but those of "younger workers" should.

8:50 p.m.

Cruz turned a question on the debt limit into a blistering attack on the panel, saying it was trying to rip the Republican candidates, belittle them and trigger fights -- drawing big applause from the Colorado crowd.

The tactic was reminiscent of Newt Gingrich's tactic in a 2012 CNN debate.

Cruz went on to say all 10 GOP candidates on stage were smarter and better qualified than any of the Democratic hopefuls. But his time ran out before he addressed the national debt question.

8:45 p.m.

Fiorina was put on the spot about her role as Hewlett-Packard CEO, with the moderator noting that the company's stock price dropped by half under her tenure. She has been touting her role as a corporate leader.

Fiorina said stock prices tanked in general and had to cut a "bloated bureaucracy." She said the company grew jobs, but analysts noted that the company's initial growth came from taking over Compaq.

"Yes, I was fired," she conceded, but contended internal politics did her in.

8:40 p.m.

Rubio -- whom some who favor an "establishment" candidate -- was asked, essentially, if he was ready to run for president amid his first Senate term. A moderator noted that a leading Florida newspaper called on him Tuesday to resign because he had missed too many votes while running for president.

Rubio said it was a "double standard that exists in this country between mainstream media" and conservatives - drawing cheers from the crowd but allowing Bush to target his Florida rival. He also said that John Kerry and John McCain missed many votes while previously running.

"I expected him to do constituent service and I expected him to show up for work," Bush said, saying the Senate had a "French workweek" of three days.

Rubio said Bush never criticized McCain in 2008 but was attacking him because they were now competitors.

Derided by Kasich, Trump fired back, contending that Ohio's economy was doing well not because of the governor but because "John got lucky with fracking."

Trump then tried to dismiss Kasich's low standing in the polls.

"He was such a nice guy and he said "Oh, I'm never going to attack,' but then his poll numbers tanked," Trump said.

8:35 p.m.

Carson immediately faced tough questions over his promise to move to a flat tax - which he pegged at "closer to 15 percent" for everyone rather than 10 percent. Pushed on how to pay for such a large tax cut -- CNBC maintained that a $1 trillion cut would require a 40 percent cut in government -- Carson said he would cut unnecessary workers and programs, but didn't provide specifics.

"This is the fantasy that I've been talking about," Kasich jumped in.

"You just don't make promises like this -- why don't you just promise a chicken in every pot?" Kasich said. "This stuff is fantasy, just like cutting Medicare and Medicaid. Don't scare senior citizens like that!"

8:30 p.m.

Pressed for his lack of specifics on economic plans and "building a wall" along the Mexican border, Trump tried to fend off a question that asked if his was a "comic book" campaign.

Trump took exception, saying the question wasn't "nicely" asked and said he would make the wall a reality.

Asked again about cutting taxes "trillions of dollars," Trump said economist Larry Kudlow "loves my tax plan."

8:25 p.m.

Cruz answered with some self-deprecating humor, saying his weakness was that he was too easy going, too easy to get along with.

After laughs, Cruz acknowledged that wasn't true, saying: "If you want someone to have a beer with," he's not your man.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he was "too impatient."

8:20 p.m.

The first question asked candidates: What is your greatest weakness?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich responded by blasting his Republican rivals on the opening question.

"We are the verge, perhaps, of picking someone who can't do this job," Kasich said, echoing his growing criticism of front-runners Carson and Trump, whose qualifications he has questioned. He says Carson's idea to end Medicaid and Medicare is "crazy."

Trump said he "trusts" people too much.


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