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article imageGOP Presidential hopefuls take debate stage in Cleveland

By Nate Smith     Aug 6, 2015 in Politics
Cleveland - The top 10 polling Republican presidential candidates squared off Thursday in Cleveland for the first presidential debate, discussing at length their ideas to secure America's borders and grow a stagnant economy.
And while he received a couple of mixed reactions from audience members inside Quicken Loans Arena, the most controversial moment of the night for current front runner candidate Donald Trump came perhaps when he refused to rule out a potential presidential run as a third-party, or independent candidate.
Candidates were asked at the outset of the debate if they would rule out such an insurgent candidacy and instead pledge their support to whomever the Republican National Committee eventually nominates.
Trump was the only candidate on stage Thursday to claim that he would even consider such a run, making it plain that he wants to win, whether that's as a Republican or as an independent candidate.
The most heated exchange between candidates occurred when Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exchanged words on foreign policy and the federal government's role in collecting citizens' data.
Gov. Christie, more than once on the night, reminded the audience he was appointed a U.S. District Attorney on Sept. 10, 2001, a day before the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The governor asserted he spent the next seven years prosecuting terrorists, and defended the government's role in collecting data as a means to stopping terrorism.
Sen. Paul took offense, claiming his goal was to, "collect more of the terrorists' records," and fewer personal records of U.S. citizens by utilizing the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and procuring a warrant. Sen. Paul went on to lump Gov. Christie with President Barack Obama on the issue of big government data collection.
"I know you give him a big hug," Sen. Paul said, evoking the image of a friendly embrace between the governor and President Obama on a New Jersey shore beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Gov. Christie accused Sen. Paul of grandstanding on the issue of surveillance and national security, using those issues simply as a means of raising money for his campaign.
illegal immigration was addressed at length Thursday, as candidates took great strides to set themselves apart on the issue.
Trump maintained America should build a wall at the border, and demand Mexico pay for such a venture. He did concede Thursday the wall may include a, "big, beautiful door," for anyone that comes into the United States legally.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, noted that most of today's illegal immigration problem stems not from Mexico, but Guatemala.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, second to Trump in most polls, and a politician that has long made illegal immigration a signature issue framed immigration in terms of the economy, claiming the right immigration policy could be an "economic driver." Bush claimed that his plan for immigration could help boost the U.S. economy 4 percent over eight years.
Each of the candidates was harshly critical of President Obama's proposed nuclear deal with Iran, and of the president's foreign policy more broadly.
Dr. Ben Carson, and others, spoke of rebuilding the military and arming it adequately, something the candidates claim this commander in-chief has failed to do.
They also sought to link presumed Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton to President Obama on this, and other issues, often referring to the, "Obama-Clinton" doctrine.
It'll be interesting to see what, if any, affect this debate, and an earlier event with the bottom-seven GOP presidential hopefuls, will have on the polls going forward.
The Iowa Caucuses aren't until after the first of the year, and only time will tell if Trump can hang on, or if one of the candidates currently polling between 5 and 10 percent can move up.
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