Transcript: Read the Full Text of the Primetime Republican Debate

Updated: Aug 11, 2015 8:30 PM UTC | Originally published: Aug 07, 2015

Ten Republican presidential candidates met in Cleveland for a primetime debate on Fox News.

At the debate, real estate mogul Donald Trump, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The moderators were Fox News anchors Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace.

Here is a running transcript of what they said.

KELLY: It is nine p.m. on the East Coast, and the moment of truth has arrived.

KELLY: Welcome to the first debate night of the 2016 presidential campaign, live from Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

I'm Megyn Kelly...

(APPLAUSE)

... along with my co-moderators, Brett Baier and Chris Wallace.

Tonight...

(APPLAUSE)

Nice.

Tonight, thousands of people here in the Q, along with millions of voters at home will get their very first chance to see the candidates face off in a debate, answering the questions you want answered.

BAIER: Less than a year from now, in this very arena, one of these 10 candidates or one of the seven on the previous debate tonight will accept the Republican party's nomination.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight's candidates were selected based on an average of five national polls. Just a few hours ago, you heard from the candidates ranked 11th through 17. And now, the prime-time event, the top 10.

WALLACE: Also of note, Fox News is partnering for tonight's debate with Facebook. For the past several weeks, we've been asking you for questions for the candidates on Facebook. Nearly 6 million of you, 6 million, viewed the debate videos on our site, and more than 40,000 of you submitted questions: some of which you will hear us asking the candidates tonight.

KELLY: As for the candidates who will be answering those questions? Here they are.

Positioned on the stage by how they stand in the polls, in the center of the stage tonight, businessman Donald Trump.

Values Voters Summit
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Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014.Mark Peterson—Redux
Values Voters Summit
USA - Hillary Clinton speaks at Iowa Senator Tom Harken'a annual Steak Fry
Jeb Bush
Sen. Bernie Sanders Launches Presidential Bid In Vermont
Political Theatre
Former Hewlett-Packard Co Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina listens to her introduction from the side of the stage at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015.
Georgia Senate Candidate David Perdue Campaigns With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)
Rick Perry
Bobby Jindal
Martin O'Malley
Marco Rubio
Ben Carson
Barack Obama, Jim Webb
John Kasich, Election
Conservative Political Action Conference
Scott Walker
Mike Huckabee
Former Rhode Island Governor Chafee poses for a selfie with a student after announcing he will seek the Democratic nomination to be U.S. president during an address to the GMU School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs in Arlington
FILE: Lindsey Graham To Run For President
Former New York governor George Pataki listens to a question at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, in this April 17, 2015 file photo. Pataki on May 28, 2015 entered the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, joining a crowded field of candidates vying to retake the White House for their party. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/Files
Sen. Ted Cruz is surrounded by stars and stripes at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on September 26, 2014.
Mark Peterson—Redux
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(APPLAUSE)

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

(APPLAUSE)

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

(APPLAUSE)

BAIER: Neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson.

(APPLAUSE)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

(APPLAUSE)

Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

(APPLAUSE)

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

(APPLAUSE) And your very own governor of Ohio...

(APPLAUSE)

... John Kasich.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Brett -- Brett, I think you would call that a home field advantage.

BAIER: It might be. It might be. We'll see.

(UNKNOWN): Is this in the rules? An objection's coming.

BAIER: It might be. The rules for tonight are simple. One minute for answers, 30 seconds for follow-ups. And if a candidate runs over, you'll hear this.

Pleasant, no?

We also have a big crowd here with us tonight in the home of the Cavaliers, as I mentioned.

And while we expect them...

(APPLAUSE)

... we expect them to be enthusiastic, as you heard, we don't want to take anything away from the valuable time for the candidate. So, we're looking for somewhere between a reaction to a LeBron James dunk and the Cleveland Public Library across the street.

(LAUGHTER)

Somewhere there, we'll find a balance tonight.

Without further ado, let's begin.

BAIER: Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person.

Again, we're looking for you to raise your hand now -- raise your hand now if you won't make that pledge tonight.

Mr. Trump.

(BOOING)

Mr. Trump to be clear, you're standing on a Republican primary debate stage.

TRUMP: I fully understand.

BAIER: The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod.

TRUMP: I fully understand.

BAIER: And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton.

You can't say tonight that you can make that pledge?

TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it's not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I'm leading by quite a bit, that's what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I'm the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But -- and I am discussing it with everybody, but I'm, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.

BAIER: So tonight, you can't say if another one of these...

PAUL: This is what's wrong!

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: I mean, this is what's wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he's already...

BAIER: Dr. Paul.

PAUL: Hey, look, look! He's already hedging his bet on the Clintons, OK? So if he doesn't run as a Republican, maybe he supports Clinton, or maybe he runs as an independent...

BAIER: OK.

PAUL: ...but I'd say that he's already hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians.

TRUMP: Well, I've given him plenty of money.

BAIER: Just to be clear, you can't make a -- we're gonna -- we're going to move on.

You're not gonna make the pledge tonight?

TRUMP: I will not make the pledge at this time.

BAIER: OK. Alright.

(LAUGHTER, BOOING)

KELLY: Gentlemen, our first round of questions is on the subject of electability in the general election, and we start tonight with you, Dr. Carson.

You are a successful neurosurgeon, but you admit that you have had to study up on foreign policy, saying there's a lot to learn.

Your critics say that your inexperience shows. You've suggested that the Baltic States are not a part of NATO, just months ago you were unfamiliar with the major political parties and government in Israel, and domestically, you thought Alan Greenspan had been treasury secretary instead of federal reserve chair.

Aren't these basic mistakes, and don't they raise legitimate questions about whether you are ready to be president?

CARSON: Well, I could take issue with -- with all of those things, but we don't have time.

But I will say, we have a debate here tonight, and we will have an opportunity to explore those areas, and I'm looking very much forward to demonstrating that, in fact, the thing that is probably most important is having a brain, and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly.

So, you know, experience comes from a large number of different arenas, and America became a great nation early on not because it was flooded with politicians, but because it was flooded with people who understood the value of personal responsibility, hard work, creativity, innovation, and that's what will get us on the right track now, as well.

WALLACE: Senator Rubio, when Jeb Bush announced his candidacy for presidency, he said this: "There's no passing off responsibility when you're a governor, no blending into the legislative crowd."

Could you please address Governor Bush across the stage here, and explain to him why you, someone who has never held executive office, are better prepared to be president than he is, a man who you say did a great job running your state of Florida for eight years.

RUBIO: Well, thank you for the question, Chris, and it's great to be here tonight. Let me begin by saying this: I'm not new to the political process; I was making a contribution as the speaker of the third largest and most diverse state in the country well before I even got into the Senate.

I would add to that that this election cannot be a resume competition. It's important to be qualified, but if this election is a resume competition, then Hillary Clinton's gonna be the next president, because she's been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight.

Here's what this election better be about: This election better be about the future, not the past. It better be about the issues our nation and the world is facing today, not simply the issues we once faced.

This country is facing an economy that has been radically transformed. You know, the largest retailer in the country and the world today, Amazon, doesn't even own a single store? And these changes have been disruptive. They have changed people's lives. The jobs that once sustained our middle class, they either don't pay enough or they are gone, and we need someone that understands that as our nominee.

If I'm our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton gonna lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck. How is she -- how is she gonna lecture me -- how is she gonna lecture me about student loans? I owed over $100,000 just four years ago.

If I'm our nominee, we will be the party of the future.

Donald Trump
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Bluffton, S.C. on July 21, 2015.Stephen B. Morton—AP

The Main Event: Donald Trump

The reality television star and real estate magnate rocketed to the top of polls with his bombastic rhetoric. Now he has a target on his back, and a pack of struggling rivals are ready to take aim. Trump has no experience as a debater, an extremely thin skin and a taste for schoolyard insults. People want provocation from him, and he will deliver. But if he comes off as a cartoonish reality show character without an ability to handle actual policy, he might find that his frontrunner status erodes. Trump knows better than anyone how to roll out a new product. Now he has to show the stuff is worth buying.

Jeb Bush
Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks to the National Urban League on July 31, 2015, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.Wilfredo Lee—AP

The Main Event: Jeb Bush

The establishment front-runner is sitting on more than $120 million in the bank, but has yet to show he can win over Republican voters. In a spectacle dominated by Trump, Bush wants to come off as cool, collected and informed. His pitch is that he is the adult conservative tough enough to take on Hillary Clinton, but with a sunny tone that broadens the party’s appeal. That’s a high bar. If he gets pushed around by Trump or fails to make an impact, then his allies may start burning their television ad money on early states sooner than he would have hoped.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Delivers Keynote At The American Action Forum
Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, speaks during a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington on Jan. 30, 2015. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Main Event: Scott Walker

The Iowa front-runner has been an uneven performer, and Thursday night’s forum marks a significant test. He will try to emphasize his battle-tested record in Wisconsin, a blue state where he won three successive elections despite kneecapping powerful public-sector unions. Walker has sought to skirt controversial issues during the early phases of the primary campaign, so the Fox moderators are likely to put him on the spot. Look for rivals to raise his flip flops on issues like immigration.

Ted Cruz
Senator Ted Cruz addresses the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015.Nicholas Kamm—AFP/Getty Images

The Main Event: Ted Cruz

The conservative firebrand was a champion debater in college, but this is a different sport entirely. Cruz comes in with soaring expectations, but it’s unclear how his skills—and penchant for long-winded answers—will translate onstage. His challenge, at a minimum, is to be the second choice for every voter who wants a pure conservative. Look for him to make bold statements of principle, while avoiding direct attacks on Trump and Carson.

Ben Carson
Ben Carson during the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md.,on Feb. 26, 2015. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Main Event: Ben Carson

The retired neurosurgeon became a darling on the conservative speaking circuit during the past two years, but his unconventional style has been marked by oddball and inflammatory statements. Carson retains a cadre of die-hard supporters, but onstage he’ll have to prove that his candidacy is more than a fading fad. He has said several times he never wanted to run for the White House, and at times he seems to be running an accidental campaign. Now he has a chance to show voters that he has changed his mind.

Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held In D.C.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks during the second day of the Conservative Political Action Conference at the Gaylord International Hotel and Conference Center on March 7, 2014 in National Harbor, Md. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

The Main Event: Mike Huckabee

The former Arkansas Governor’s ability to overperform expectations in debates was key to his Iowa caucus victory in 2008, and his campaign is betting on another set of performances to push him out of the pack. Having worked in television his whole life, he knows how to work a camera, and convince viewers he is talking to them. His challenge this time is to convince Iowa caucus goers that he is not yesterday’s news. Look for him to possibly square up against Walker, who is already eating into his numbers. Also watch for the cues he sends to social conservatives on issues like marriage and religious freedom.

Marco Rubio
Senator Marco Rubio speaks in National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 27, 2015.Carolyn Kaster—AP

The Main Event: Marco Rubio

One of the most popular candidates in the field, Rubio is running a tortoise campaign, intentionally flying under the radar as rivals damage their appeal with constant skirmishing. The Florida senator wants to avoid confrontation and continue to position himself as a consensus second choice for now, hoping that he can take advantage if Bush and Walker stumble. But he also has to show up. For the past few weeks, outside of some ad spending on his behalf, he has barely been a presence in the campaign, and his poll numbers show it.

Rand Paul Announces His Candidacy For The Republican Presidential Nomination
Senator Rand Paul announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination during an event at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Ky., on April 7, 2015Luke Sharrett—Getty Images

The Main Event: Rand Paul

Amid the rise of the Islamic State, the libertarian Senator’s dovish foreign policy is growing out of synch with an increasingly hawkish GOP. A frequent target of Christie and Rubio, Paul is apt to become a target in the debate, and he has a habit of growing prickly when challenged. Slipping in the polls, Paul can give his candidacy a much-needed boost with a strong showing. This is a perfect chance for him to make the case that he can expand the party by attracting young voters and minorities.

New Jersey Governor Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks while being interviewed onstage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Feb. 26, 2015. Kevin Lamarque—Reuters

The Main Event: Chris Christie

Once the GOP front-runner, the New Jersey Governor barely clinched his spot on the debate stage with a week-long Fox News blitz. Still tarnished by Bridgegate and distrusted by the party’s conservative wing, Christie will be looking for a spot to showcase his brash personality. If he doesn’t have a memorable moment, he’ll be in real trouble. A tussle with Trump could be in the cards.

Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Conference
John Kasich, governor of Ohio, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in Washington on June 19, 2015. Drew Angerer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Main Event: John Kasich

With among the lowest name-recognition of any candidate in the top 10, the Ohio Governor surged after his announcement two weeks ago to make the stage. Kasich needs to keep the momentum going in a home-state debate, and carve out a niche as an establishment-friendly, grownup alternative to Bush. He wants to stay on offense, even as some of his rivals are likely to paint him as too squishy on core conservative issues to win the debate. Look for him to try to distinguish himself from the rest of the field on policy and experience.

GOP Presidential Candidate rick perry
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando.Joe Raedle—Getty Images

The Undercard: Rick Perry

After narrowly missing the cut for the main event, Perry’s challenge is to soldier on with a strong performance. Avoiding another “oops” moment is the first step toward proving he really is a sharper candidate. At the center of the undercard, the former Texas governor gets the benefits of more airtime and a Trump-free environment to continue his political resurrection after his disastrous 2012 campaign. But he has fallen far since his first debate in 2011, when he was seen as a frontrunner. Beating up on Donald Trump will not be enough to get him to the big boy table in September.

Conservative Activists And Leaders Attend The Iowa Freedom Summit
Carly Fiorina, former chairman and chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard Co., during the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa on Jan. 24, 2015. Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Undercard: Carly Fiorina

The former HP CEO hoped to make the main stage, but her campaign is now shifting the goalposts, telling supporters they are playing a long game for the nomination. The lone woman in the field, Fiorina has proven herself a caustic and effective Hillary Clinton critic. But she needs a wider repertoire to make the second debate next month. Crowds love listening to her, but few leave the room wanting to vote for her. She needs to show she has the gravitas, not just the one-liners, to take on Clinton.

Republican Presidential Candidates Speak At Faith & Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" Conference
Rick Santorum, former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in Washington on June 19, 2015. Drew Angerer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Undercard: Rick Santorum

The 2012 runner-up’s campaign is in shambles, with little money trickling in and an exodus of top aides in recent weeks. He’s made barely a ripple on the stump, driving few headlines even in Iowa, where he’s been camped out in hopes of bottling the unlikely magic of the last campaign. No candidate has grumbled more about the RNC rules than the former Pennsylvania senator, who needs to stop complaining and start showing his campaign has life.

Key Speakers At The Conservative Political Action Conference
Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, pauses while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md, on Feb. 26, 2015. Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Undercard: Bobby Jindal

The Louisiana governor’s last performance before a national audience was his widely panned rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union in 2009. Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar, should do better Thursday night, but his Iowa-centric campaign has a long way to go to reach relevance. Cruz and Huckabee are already doing a better job at reaching the same voters he is after. The question is can he do something that will be remembered.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, speaks during the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on May 16, 2015.Daniel Acker—Bloomberg/Getty Images

The Undercard: Lindsey Graham

He’s quick with a quip and seasoned from his debates in the Senate, but Graham’s taste for bipartisan cooperation on issues like immigration makes him tough fit for the GOP base. Expect him to entertain; he’s clearly the funniest candidate out there. He also needs to make his mark on foreign policy. But he still needs to find a way to make the case that he is running for anything more than Scott Walker’s Secretary of Defense.

george pataki
George Pataki on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa.Scott Olson—Getty Images

The Undercard: George Pataki

The former New York governor has been out of politics for a decade and the rust shows in his performances on the stump. Staking out a position as a moderate, Pataki been an ardent Trump critics. But denied the chance to go toe-to-toe with the reality television star, it’s hard to see how he breaks through. That may be fine with him. He seems to be just along for the ride.

James Gilmore
Former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore speaks during the Freedom Summit on Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa.Charlie Neibergall—AP

The Undercard: Jim Gilmore

Who? The former Virginia governor scored an invite after Fox News lowered the threshold for admittance to those whose names are offered consistently in national polling. But Gilmore is barely above zero in those surveys, and has no strong base of support. Unless he pulls a surprise, this will likely be his last debate.

BAIER: Governor Bush, you have insisted that you're your own man. You say you have a life experience uniquely your own. Not your father's, not your brother's.

But there are several opponents on this stage who get big- applause lines in early voting states with this line: quote, "the last thing the country needs is another Bush in the Oval Office."

So do you understand the real concern in this country about dynastic politics?

BUSH: Absolutely, I do, and I'm gonna run hard, run with heart, and run to win.

I'm gonna have to earn this. Maybe the barrier -- the bar's even higher for me. That's fine.

I've got a record in Florida. I'm proud of my dad, and I'm certainly proud of my brother. In Florida, they called me Jeb, because I earned it.

I cut taxes every year, totaling $19 billion. We were -- we had -- we balanced every budget. We went from $1 billion of reserves to $9 billion of reserves.

We were one of two states that went to AAA bond rating.

BUSH: They keep -- they called me Veto Corleone. Because I vetoed 2,500 separate line-items in the budget.

(APPLAUSE)

I am my own man. I governed as a conservative, and I govern effectively. And the net effect was, during my eight years, 1.3 million jobs were created. We left the state better off because I applied conservative principles in a purple state the right way, and people rose up.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don't use a politician's filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women.

You've called women you don't like "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals."

(LAUGHTER)

Your Twitter account...

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: No, it wasn't.

(APPLAUSE)

Your Twitter account...

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: Thank you.

KELLY: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O'Donnell.

TRUMP: Yes, I'm sure it was.

KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women's looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct.

(APPLAUSE)

I've been challenged by so many people, and I don't frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn't have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don't win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody.

And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it's fun, it's kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry. I've been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn't do that.

(APPLAUSE)

But you know what, we -- we need strength, we need energy, we need quickness and we need brain in this country to turn it around. That, I can tell you right now.

WALLACE: Senator Cruz, your colleague, Senator Paul, right there next to you, said a few months ago he agrees with you on a number of issues, but he says you do nothing to grow the party. He says you feed red meat to the base, but you don't reach out to minorities. You have a toxic relationship with GOP leaders in Congress. You even called the Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell a liar recently.

(APPLAUSE)

How can you win in 2016 when you're such a divisive figure?

CRUZ: Chris, I believe the American people are looking for someone to speak the truth.

(APPLAUSE)

If you're looking for someone to go to Washington, to go along to get along, to get -- to agree with the career politicians in both parties who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain't your guy.

There is a reason...

(APPLAUSE)

.... that we have $18 trillion in debt. Because as conservatives, as Republicans, we keep winning elections. We got a Republican House, we've got a Republican Senate, and we don't have leaders who honor their commitments. I will always tell the truth and do what I said I would do.

(APPLAUSE)

BAIER: Governor Christie, you're not exactly the darling of conservatives. You tout your record as a Republican governor in a blue state. On Facebook, the most people talking about you, not surprisingly, come from your state of New Jersey, and one of the top issues they are talking about is the economy.

This -- this may be why. Under your watch, New Jersey has undergone nine credit rating downgrades. The state's 44th in private sector growth. You face an employee pension crisis and the Garden State has the third highest foreclosure rate in the country. So why should voters believe that your management of the country's finances would be any different?

CHRISTIE: If you think it's bad now, you should've seen it when I got there.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

The fact is -- the fact is, in the eight years before I became governor, taxes and fees were raised at the state level 115 times. In the eight years before I became governor, spending was increased 56 percent. And in the eight years before I become governor, taxes and fees were raised at the state level 115 times.

In the eight years before I became Governor, spending was increased 56 percent, and in the eight years before I became governor, there was zero net private sector job growth in New Jersey. Zero. For eight years.

So, what did we do? We came in, we balanced an $11 billion deficit on a $29 billion budget by cutting over 800 programs in the state budget. We brought the budget into balance with no tax increases. In fact, we vetoed five income tax increases during my time as governor. We cut business taxes $2.3 billion, and we cut regulation by one-third of what my predecessor put in place.

And, what's happened since? A hundred ninety-two thousand private sector jobs in the five and a half years I've been governor. We have a lot of work to do in New Jersey, but I am darn proud we've brought our state back.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Governor Walker, you've consistently said that you want to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. You recently signed an abortion law in Wisconsin that does have an exception for the mother's life, but you're on the record as having objected to it. Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion, and with 83 percent of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?

WALKER: Well, I'm pro-life, I've always been pro-life, and I've got a position that I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that...

(APPLAUSE) WALKER: ...in that I believe that that is an unborn child that's in need of protection out there, and I've said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That's been consistently proven.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out...

(APPLAUSE)

WALKER: ...I've got a position that's in line with everyday America.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Governor Huckabee, like Governor Walker, you have staked out strong positions on social issues. You favor a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. You favor a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother. Millions of people in this country agree with you, but according to the polls, and again this an electability question, according to the polls, more people don't, so how do you persuade enough Independents and Democrats to get elected in 2016?

HUCKABEE: Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That's a long and difficult process. I've actually taken the position that's bolder than that.

A lot of people are talking about defunding planned parenthood, as if that's a huge game changer. I think it's time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother's womb is a person at the moment of conception.

The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.

It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick.

(APPLAUSE)

BAIER: Senator Paul, you recently blamed the rise of ISIS on Republican hawks. You later said that that statement, you could have said it better. But, the statement went on, and you said, quote, "Everything they've talked about in foreign policy, they've been wrong for the last 20 years."

Why are you so quick to blame your own party?

PAUL: First of all, only ISIS is responsible for the terrorism. Only ISIS is responsible for the depravity. But, we do have to examine, how are we going to defeat ISIS?

I've got a proposal. I'm the leading voice in America for not arming the allies of ISIS.

(APPLAUSE)

PAUL: I've been fighting amidst a lot of opposition from both Hillary Clinton, as well as some Republicans who wanted to send arms to the allies of ISIS. ISIS rides around in a billion dollars worth of U.S. Humvees. It's a disgrace. We've got to stop -- we shouldn't fund our enemies, for goodness sakes.

PAUL: So, we didn't create ISIS -- ISIS created themselves, but we will stop them, and one of the ways we stop them is by not funding them, and not arming them.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Governor Kasich, You chose to expand Medicaid in your state, unlike several other governors on this stage tonight, and it is already over budget by some estimates costing taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in just the first 18 months.

You defended your Medicaid expansion by invoking God, saying to skeptics that when they arrive in heaven, Saint Peter isn't going to ask them how small they've kept government, but what they have done for the poor.

Why should Republican voters, who generally want to shrink government, believe that you won't use your Saint Peter rationale to expand every government program?

KASICH: Well, first of all...

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: -- first of all, Megyn, you should know that -- that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times.

Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what?

To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year...

(APPLAUSE)

KASICH: -- to keep them in prison. I'd rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life.

Secondly, we are rehabbing the drug-addicted. Eighty percent of the people in our prisons have addictions or problems. We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community and the recidivism rate is 10 percent and everybody across this country knows that the tsunami of drugs is -- is threatening their very families.

So we're treating them and getting them on their feet. And, finally, the working poor, instead of them having come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they're sicker and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people could get on their feet.

And do you know what?

Everybody has a right to their God-given purpose.

And finally, our Medicaid is growing at one of the lowest rates in the country. And, finally, we went from $8 billion in the hole to $2 billion in the black. We've cut $5 billion in taxes...

(BUZZER NOISE)

KASICH: -- and we've grown 350,000 jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we're turning to a new subject that all of you have been talking about and some of you have been disagreeing about, and that is the issue of immigration.

Governor Bush, you released a new plan this week on illegal immigration focusing on enforcement, which some suggest is your effort to show that you're not soft on that issue.

I want to ask you about a statement that you made last year about illegal immigrants. And here's what you said. "They broke the law, but it's not a felony, it's an act of love. It's an act of commitment to your family."

Do you stand by that statement and do you stand by your support for earned legal status?

BUSH: I do. I believe that the great majority of people coming here illegally have no other option. They want to provide for their family.

But we need to control our border. It's not -- it's our responsibility to pick and choose who comes in. So I -- I've written a book about this and yet this week, I did come up with a comprehensive strategy that -- that really mirrored what we said in the book, which is that we need to deal with E-Verify, we need to deal with people that come with a legal visa and overstay.

We need to be much more strategic on how we deal with border enforcement, border security. We need to eliminate the sanctuary cities in this country. It is ridiculous and tragic...

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: -- that people are dying because of the fact that -- that local governments are not following the federal law. There's much to do. And I think rather than talking about this as a wedge issue, which Barack Obama has done now for six long years, the next president -- and I hope to be that president -- will fix this once and for all so that we can turn this into a driver for high sustained economic growth.

And there should be a path to earned legal status...

(BUZZER NOISE)

BUSH: -- for those that are here. Not -- not amnesty, earned legal status, which means you pay a fine and do many things over an extended period of time.

WALLACE: Thank you, sir.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, it has not escaped anybody's notice that you say that the Mexican government, the Mexican government is sending criminals -- rapists, drug dealers, across the border.

Governor Bush has called those remarks, quote, "extraordinarily ugly."

I'd like you -- you're right next to him -- tell us -- talk to him directly and say how you respond to that and -- and you have repeatedly said that you have evidence that the Mexican government is doing this, but you have evidence you have refused or declined to share.

Why not use this first Republican presidential debate to share your proof with the American people?

TRUMP: So, if it weren't for me, you wouldn't even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris. You wouldn't even be talking about it.

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: This was not a subject that was on anybody's mind until I brought it up at my announcement. And I said, Mexico is sending. Except the reporters, because they're a very dishonest lot, generally speaking, in the world of politics, they didn't cover my statement the way I said it.

The fact is, since then, many killings,murders, crime, drugs pouring across the border, are money going out and the drugs coming in. And I said we need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.

And I don't mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally. But we need, Jeb, to build a wall, we need to keep illegals out.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Mr. Trump, I'll give you 30 seconds -- I'll give you 30 seconds to answer my question, which was, what evidence do you have, specific evidence that the Mexican government is sending criminals across the border? Thirty seconds.

TRUMP: Border Patrol, I was at the border last week. Border Patrol, people that I deal with, that I talk to, they say this is what's happening. Because our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid.

And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them. They don't want to take care of them.

Why should they when the stupid leaders of the United States will do it for them? And that's what is happening whether you like it or not.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: All right. Obviously there's a lot more to talk about this. We're going to have more questions for the candidates on illegal immigration, plus other key topics including your questions on Facebook.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What will be your plan on making immigration easier for those that want to do it legally?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What specific steps would you take to contain the growth of ISIS?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd like to know what the candidates are going to do so that I feel safe in my own country again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Welcome back to FOX News/Facebook Republican Debate Night. We're going to continue the questions now on illegal immigration. We kind of ended with a cliffhanger there. So let's continue the conversation.

WALLACE: Governor Kasich, I know you don't like to talk about Donald Trump. But I do want to ask you about the merit of what he just said. When you say that the American government is stupid, that the Mexican government is sending criminals, that we're being bamboozled, is that an adequate response to the question of illegal immigration?

KASICH: Chris, first of all, I was just saying to Chris Christie, they say we're outspoken, we need to take lessons from Donald Trump if we're really going to learn it. Here is the thing about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is hitting a nerve in this country. He is. He's hitting a nerve. People are frustrated. They're fed up. They don't think the government is working for them. And for people who want to just tune him out, they're making a mistake.

Now, he's got his solutions. Some of us have other solutions. You know, look, I balanced the federal budget as one of the chief architects when I was in Washington. Hasn't been done since. I was a military reformer. I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole and a 350,000 job loss to a $2 billion surplus and a gain of 350,000 jobs.

WALLACE: Respectfully, can we talk about illegal immigration?

KASICH: But the point is that we all have solutions. Mr. Trump is touching a nerve because people want the wall to be built. They want to see an end to illegal immigration. They want to see it, and we all do. But we all have different ways of getting there. And you're going to hear from all of us tonight about what our ideas are.

WALLACE: All right, well, Senator Rubio, let me see if I can do better with you. Is it as simple as our leaders are stupid, their leaders are smart, and all of these illegals coming over are criminals?

RUBIO: Let me set the record straight on a couple of things. The first is, the evidence is now clear that the majority of people coming across the border are not from Mexico. They're coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras. Those countries are the source of the people that are now coming in its majority.

I also believe we need a fence. The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under the fence, we have to be able to deal with that too. And that's why you need an e-verify system and you need an entry-exit tracking system and all sorts of other things to prevent illegal immigration. But I agree with what Governor Kasich just said. People are frustrated. This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States, and people feel like we're being taken advantage of. We feel like despite our generosity, we're being taken advantage of.

And let me tell you who never gets talked about in these debates. The people that call my office, who have been waiting for 15 years to come to the United States. And they've paid their fees, and they hired a lawyer, and they can't get in. And they're wondering, maybe they should come illegally.

(APPLAUSE)

RUBIO: And so these are important issues, and we should address it. It's a serious problem that needs to be addressed, and otherwise we're going to keep talking about this for the next 30 years, like we have for the last 30 years.

WALLACE: Governor Walker.

(APPLAUSE)

WALLACE: Governor Walker, from 2002 until as recently as 2013, just two years ago, you supported comprehensive immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Now you say that was a quick reaction to something you hadn't really thought about, and that you've changed your mind. Other than politics, could you explain why in the last two years you've changed your position on a path to citizenship, and are there other past positions that we shouldn't hold you to?

WALKER: Chris, I actually said that on your show earlier this year.

(CROSSTALK)

WALKER: I acknowledged that. I said I actually listened to the Americ