The Republican presidential field gathered tonight for the first official debate of the 2016 presidential election.
The Republican presidential field gathered tonight for the first official debate of the 2016 presidential election, and there was no shortage of policy ideas offered in the first debate of the night from the seven Republicans participating.
Dubbed the “happy hour” debate because of its 5 p.m. start time, the seven lower-polling of the 17 Republican presidential candidates met on stage in the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, for the forum.
The seven Republican candidates participating were former Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. Pataki, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
The candidates first were asked to defend their records from their time as leaders at the state and federal level, as well as in the private sector.
But the debate quickly turned to questions on the issues that have been dominating the news, including the economy and Iran.
Here’s how the seven GOP candidates in the first debate answered on the issues.
Perry, who served as head of a border state for more than a decade, defended his record on securing the border in Texas, and he criticized politicians in Washington, D.C., for failing to act to secure the borders.
“Americans are tired of hearing this debate,” he said. “[They] want to know, what are you going to do about illegal immigration?”
The former Texas governor called for additional personnel and fencing along the country’s southern border. Perry also advocated for planes to fly above and scan the area along the border to identify instances of illegal activity.
“Then Americans will believe that Washington is up to a conversation to deal with the millions of people that are here illegally,” he said.
Santorum reminded the audience that America is “a country of laws” and advocated for immigration policies that are pro-worker and “in favor of those struggling.”
“The reason America is a great country is because passion is in the law,” Santorum said.
When asked to discuss his plan to grow the economy—an issue that worries many Americans—Gilmore laid out a plan to cut taxes and change the tax code, creating three brackets with 10-, 15- and 20-percent tax rates.
“Americans are dying for the opportunity to grow,” Gilmore said.
He also called for a decrease in regulations implemented by the federal government, such as those from the Environmental Protection Agency, and called for the elimination of the death tax.
Such a plan, Gilmore said, will “cause the economy to grow.”
Santorum, meanwhile, said he would deliver a “one-two punch” to boost the economy, which includes creating better-paying jobs, putting Americans back to work in the manufacturing sector and instituting work requirements and time limits for those relying on the government’s safety-net programs.
Graham agreed that America “is dying to work” and called on policymakers to “give them a chance” to do so.
Specifically, the South Carolina senator pointed to repealing and replacing Obamacare, building the Keystone Pipeline and changing Dodd-Frank as ways to boost the economy.
“Until you change the policies of Barack Obama, you’re never going to change the economy,” Graham said.