Just a few hours before the remaining six GOP candidates were set to take the debate stage for the ninth time in South Carolina, there was breaking news out of West Texas: Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia had died at the age of 79.
The debate opened with a solemn and dignified moment of silence for Scalia, followed by two hours of totally undignified knock-down, drag-out fights pitting Jeb Bush against Donald Trump against Ted Cruz against Marco Rubio. The crowd in South Carolina, where the Republican primary will take place a week from Saturday, ate it up. Father figure John Kasich, over in one corner, hemmed and hawed about the fighting, but the audience was apparently there for a WWE match.
Here are the most WTF moment from the most WTF debate yet.
1. "I think [President Obama] is going to [nominate a new Supreme Court justice] whether I'm OK with it or not. I think it's up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it. It's called delay, delay, delay." -Donald Trump
2. "I really wish the president would think about not nominating somebody." -John Kasich
3. "When our Constitution was put in place, the average age of death was under 50, and therefore the whole concept of lifetime appointments for Supreme Court judges and federal judges was not considered to be a big deal. Obviously that has changed, and it's something that probably needs to be looked at pretty carefully at some point." -Ben Carson
4. "It has been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice." -Marco Rubio, wrongly
5. "We have 80 years of precedent of not confirming Supreme Court justices in an election year." -Ted Cruz, still wrong
6. Moderator John Dickerson: "I want to get the facts straight for the audience."
7. "We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states." -Ted Cruz, more or less correctly
8. "I also said, by the way — four years ago, three years ago — attack the oil, take the wealth away, attack the oil and keep the oil. They didn't listen." - Donald Trump on the ISIS advice he dispensed three or four years ago
9. "Thank you for including me in the debate — two questions already. That's great!" -Ben Carson
10. "He called me a genius, I like him so far." -Donald Trump on Vladimir Putin
11. "That's Jeb's special interests and lobbyists talking." -Donald Trump, responding to boos from the crowd, and recycling a line from the previous GOP debate
12. "This is a man who is trying to insult his way to the nomination" -Jeb Bush on Donald Trump
13. "[Jeb Bush spent] $44 million in New Hampshire…. Gimme a break." -Donald Trump, speaking over Jeb Bush.
14. "Gentlemen, let's leave it there so I can ask a question of Sen. Cruz, who is also running for president." -John Dickerson
15. "While Donald Trump was building a reality show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe." -Jeb Bush
16. "Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake." -Donald Trump
17. "They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction — there were none." -Donald Trump on George Bush
18. "This is just crazy. This is just nut. Jeez, oh man. I'm sorry, John." -John Kasich, to John Dickerson, regarding Bush and Trump's onstage feud
19. "I thank God, all the time, that it was George W. Bush in the White House on 9/11 and not Al Gore. I think you can look back in hindsight and say a couple of things, but he kept us safe." -Marco Rubio
20. "The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him." -Marco Rubio
21. "How did he keep us safe?... I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush. He kept us safe? That is not safe." -Donald Trump
22. Ted Cruz: "Marco Rubio has gone on Univision and said in Spanish, 'No, no, no, I wouldn't rescind amnesty.'"
Marco Rubio: "I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision. He doesn't speak Spanish."
23. "For a number of weeks now, Ted Cruz has just been telling lies. He lied about Ben Carson in Iowa. He lies about Planned Parenthood. He lies about marriage. He's lying about all sorts of things. And now he makes things up." -Marco Rubio, back to Ted Cruz
24. "You want to talk about weakness? It's weak to disparage women. It's weak to disparage Hispanics. It's weak to denigrate the disabled. And it's really weak to call John McCain a loser because he was a POW. That's outrageous. He's an American hero." -Jeb Bush to Donald Trump
25. "Two days ago he said he would take his pants off and moon everybody, and that's fine. Nobody reports that." -Trump, referring to a comment Jeb Bush made about his own lack of press coverage
26. "[I want my mother to know] if she's watching the debate: I didn't say that I was going to moon somebody." -Jeb Bush
27. "We will leave the moon metaphors to be adjudicated later" -Moderator Major Garrett
28. "If you want to get rid of poverty, get rid of all the regulations." -Ben Carson
29. Ted Cruz: "I like Donald, he is an amazing entertainer, but…"
Donald Trump: "Thank you very much, I appreciate it."
30. Ted Cruz: "For most of his life, he has described himself as very pro-choice and as a supporter of partial-birth abortion. Right now, today, as a candidate, he supports federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood."
Donald Trump: "You probably are worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar.... This is the same thing he did to Ben Carson. This guy will say anything, nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn't have one endorsement from any of his colleagues."
Ted Cruz: "...It is fairly remarkable to see Donald defending Ben after he called, "pathological," and compared him to a child molester.
Donald Trump: "I just quoted from his book."
Ted Cruz: "...If Donald Trump is president, he will appoint liberals. If Donald Trump is president, your Second Amendment will be gone…"
John Dickerson: "Gentlemen, I'm going to turn this car around!"
31. "[President Reagan] didn't tear down people, like Donald Trump does. He tore down the Berlin Wall." -Jeb Bush
32. Cruz: "I did not nominate John Roberts. I would not have nominated John Roberts."
Trump: "You pushed him. You pushed him."
Cruz: "…Donald, adults learn…"
Trump: "You pushed him."
Cruz: "Adults learn not to interrupt people."
33. "You know how I know that Donald's Supreme Court Justices will be liberals? Because his entire life he support liberals, from Jimmy Carter to Hillary Clinton to John Kerry. In 2004, he contributed to John Kerry. Nobody who cares about judges would contribute to John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid." -Ted Cruz
34. "I'm not a politician. I'm never going to become a politician." -Ben Carson
35. "Not using profanity is very easy." -Donald Trump