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10 WTF Moments From the Fifth GOP Debate

“He’s a chaos candidate,” Jeb Bush said of Donald Trump

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The fifth GOP debate aired on CNN Tuesday evening.

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1. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump Fight to the Death

Bush: “So Donald, you know, is great at — at the one-liners, but he’s a chaos candidate. And he’d be a chaos president.” 

Jeb Bush’s campaign is flailing, and he believes attacking frontrunner Donald Trump is his only shot at clawing his way back to the top. He is utterly disgusted with Trump’s rise — and who can blame him?

On Tuesday night Bush said Trump lacked seriousness, and his approach to beating ISIS was “just crazy.” And Trump’s response — as always — was that he’s beating Bush in the polls. “He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign,” Trump pointed out, correctly. “It’s been a total disaster.”

And for that, Jeb doesn’t have a comeback.

2. John Kasich Wanted to Change the Paris Talks’ Agenda

Kasich: “And when I see they have a climate conference over in Paris, they should have been talking about destroying ISIS because they are involved in virtually every country, you know, across this world.” 

Nearly 200 nations just signed a historic accord to fight climate change, a global challenge that has the power to devastate every country on the planet. On a stage full of global warming deniers, John Kasich, who likes to present himself as the serious candidate, said we should have canceled the Paris talks — years in the planning and execution — and replaced it with a conference to discuss ISIS.

It was an idea so crazy it could have come from Donald Trump.

3. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Go at Each Other’s Throats

Cruz: “…they are knowingly false and they are, in fact, Alinsky-like attacks like Barack Obama.”

While Bush is trying to jump about five places in line by going directly after Trump, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz know they have the best shots at knocking the frontrunner off his perch. But first each has to beat the other.

They hit each other multiple times tonight, but the defining moment was an early sparring over surveillance: Cruz voted for the renewal of the Patriot Act that eliminated the metadata collection program; Rubio voted for it. What mattered wasn’t their positions — they’re both in favor of surveilling the American people to an uncomfortable degree — but Cruz’s assertion that Rubio was lying about both the bill and Cruz’s position. He would do that throughout the night. 

4. Yes, Donald Trump Really Wants to Shut Down Parts of the Internet

Trump: “What I wanted to do is I wanted to get our brilliant people from Silicon Valley and other places and figure out a way that ISIS cannot do what they’re doing.”

Trump literally wants to shut down parts of the Internet to defeat ISIS. Let’s ignore the part where that actually makes it tougher to track what terrorists want to do. Let’s ignore the gross violation of the First Amendment. 

Let’s instead talk about how Donald Trump thinks the Internet is a magic room full of on/off switches, some of which are labeled THE PART THAT ISIS IS USING. Speaking of magic plans to defeat ISIS…

5. Ted Cruz Wants to Use Magic Bombs to Kill ISIS Dead

Cruz: “You would carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of the troops.”

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer pushed Cruz to answer whether he would “carpet bomb” the ISIS capital of Raqqa, which is still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians (in case you were wondering where refugees come from), and Cruz insisted he would only carpet bomb ISIS troops, not the city….

…the same city full of ISIS troops. Maybe he’ll use magic carpet bombs that somehow distinguish between good guys and bad guys.

6. Donald Trump Will Murder Terrorists’ Families

Trump: “I would be very, very firm with families.”

It takes a special sort of commitment to medieval justice to go after the families of criminals for their sins, but that’s exactly what Donald Trump is promising to do as president. He has promised to kill the families of terrorists, and when faced with a question tonight calling him on this extremely insane plan, he confirmed that he would go after innocents just for being related to terrorists. 

The audience applauded him for it.

7. Ben Carson Will Bomb Kids to Death Because They Didn’t Like Getting Brain Surgery

Carson: “They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point. But later on, they love me.”

Right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, who for some reason CNN has allowed to ask questions at two presidential debates, asked Carson if being a nice guy who has cured children he could as commander and chief order bombings that could kill children by the thousands. (He didn’t ask if it would be a good idea to order such bombings. It would not.)

Carson said kids didn’t like it when he said he’d have to open up their skulls to pick out pieces of their tiny brains, but later they loved him. I’m not sure how that was relevant, because I don’t think the children he rained fire down from the sky upon would love him for that.

8. Donald Trump Is a Filthy Liberal

Trump: “We could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems; our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had, we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.”

Donald Trump thinks we should have spent the money on the Iraq War on our infrastructure instead. He also said we would have been better off using that money on our schools and hospitals.

He’s … exactly right?

9. Ben Carson Uses All His Foreign Policy Flashcards in One Answer

Carson: “I think we can use that in order to keep Putin contained, because he is a one-horse show. Energy. And we have an abundance of energy, but we have archaic energy exportation rules. We need to get rid of those, allow ourselves to really make Europe dependent on us and other parts of the world dependent on us for energy. Put him back in his little box where he belongs.

The question was about North Korea.

10. Donald Trump Is the Scariest Person on the Planet

Trump: “Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible; who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important. And one of the things that I’m frankly most proud of is that in 2003, 2004, I was totally against going into Iraq because you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I called it. I called it very strongly. And it was very important.”

Donald Trump was asked what his top priority would be in maintaining our nuclear triad, the three tools we have to deliver nuclear weapons (air-, land-, and sea-based systems, essentially).

Trump had no idea what the triad was or even what a basic priority for a president should be when it comes to our nuclear arsenal. Trump is famous for skipping the specifics, but he reached a new terrifying level of vagueness on this question. We should trust him with our nuclear arsenal because he opposed the Iraq War? 

His answer was rambling, incoherent, and honestly terrifying. It should remind people that putting the most powerful nuclear arsenal in the hands of a man who can’t muster a more intelligent statement than “I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me” is perhaps an ill-advised idea.

That answer should have been the end of his campaign. But one thing we’ve learned is that nothing Donald Trump says has any consequences for Donald Trump’s quest for the presidency.

(Hat-tip to the Washington Post‘s live transcript.)

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