- REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Two hours before the third official Republican presidential debate, the four lower-polling GOP candidates participated in a high-energy so-called undercard debate.
The hour-long contest included candidates who did not garner the average 2.5% support in select national polls necessary to qualify for the main-stage debate.
US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Sen. Rick Santorum, and former New York Gov. George Pataki participated in Wednesday’s early debate, which ran for an hour starting at 6 p.m. ET on CNBC.
Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who is also seeking the Republican nomination, did not meet the threshold to qualify, which required at least 1% support in one of several select national polls.
Though the previous two early contests have been less watched than the main debates, Wednesday’s early debate can still offer the candidates a potential springboard to the main stage.
Following a well-received performance in the undercard debate in Ohio in August, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina saw a fundraising spike and a jump in the polls that helped her qualify for the main-stage debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in September.
Read our live blog below, and check back for frequent updates.
7:07 p.m. – Here’s how the candidates responded when asked which apps were on their phones.
Jindal: No apps. “I may be the last person in America without an iPhone.”
Santorum: “MLB, NHL – I’m a big sports fan – and The Wall Street Journal.”
Pataki: Uber, Twitter
Graham: “The only reason I have an iPhone is that I gave my number to Donald Trump … No. 1, Fox News – sorry CNBC. We’re in a Republican primary, here.”
7:03 p.m. – As he has in past debates, Graham brought up his time growing up in a bar owned by his parents, who died while he was young.
“If you’re looking for good beer policy, I’m you’re best bet,” Graham said. “My dad owned a bar, and I know beer.”
He then used the anecdote to illustrate the need to protect Social Security, which he said helped him survive financially after his parents died suddenly within months of each other.
“If it wasn’t for a Social Security survivor benefit check, we wouldn’t have made it,” he said.
6:50 p.m. – After he was asked about whether a possible merger between Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors creates a beer industry monopoly, Santorum said that he was not, and mentioned that he drinks a lot of Coors beer.
“I do drink a lot of Coors beer,” Santorum said.
He said: “I don’t think we need to worry so much there. Obviously if there are some anticompetitive issues, there are agencies to deal with that.
“There are no shortage of breweries in the United States of America.”
6:32 p.m. – After defending his stance on global warming and his vote for the bipartisan 2013 immigration reform plan that stalled in Congress, Graham got the largest laugh of the night when he pivoted to an attack on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Good God, look who we are running against! The No. 1 candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The No. 2 guy went on a honeymoon to the Soviet Union, and I don’t think he ever came back!” Graham said.
6:22 p.m. – Holding up his hands, Graham said that he will be a hawkish president who will not allow Russia and China to bully the US.
“Make me commander in chief and this crap stops,” Graham said.
6:22 p.m. – After answering a question about cybersecurity, Pataki took a shot at Clinton, saying that he has “no doubt” that the former secretary of state’s private server was hacked by foreign entities.
“That alone should disqualify her as president,” Pataki said.
6:15 p.m. – After unsuccessfully attempting to make several comments in response to other candidates, Pataki complained that the defense budget is too small, saying that US President Barack Obama was “holding the military hostage.”
6:12 p.m. – Graham dodged a question about the two-year federal-budget agreement, saying that the only thing he cares about in the budget is whether the allocation for defense is large enough.
“I am looking at this budget with one view in mind: Will it restore the ability to defend this nation?” Graham said.