Five days before voting begins, the Republican candidates — or most of them, anyway — gathered on-stage at Des Moines’ Iowa Events Center to tangle, one last time, in a stuffy, airless space devoid of real, delegate-related consequences.
It was the last chance for the GOP’s top candidates to make their respective pitches to the American people before the Iowa caucus, which will soon be followed by primaries in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada — and one by one, the flushed, sweaty faces we’ve come to know over the past seven debates will drop out and fade from memory.
So in case we don’t see you again: Shine on, you crazy diamonds.
2. “I kinda miss Donald Trump. He was always a little teddy bear to me. We always had such a loving relationship…. Everyone else was in the witness protection program when I went after him.” -Jeb Bush
3. “I know you like to argue about the rules, but we’re gonna debate.” -Moderator Chris Wallace to Ted Cruz
4. “I would note that the last four questions have been: Rand, please attack Ted. Marco, please attack Ted. Chris, please attack Ted.” -Ted Cruz
5. “It is a debate, sir.” -Chris Wallace.
6. “If you guys ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage.” – Ted Cruz
7. “Megyn, it’s best not to talk any more about backdoors and encryption. It will get solved, but it needs to be solved in the Situation Room of the White House…. I just have to tell you it’s best some of these things not be said.” -John Kasich
8. “If you’ve got 10 people coming to your house, and you know one is a terrorist, you’re probably gonna keep them all out.” -Ben Carson
9. “When you see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children murdered in the womb, I can’t think of anything bigger than that.” -Chris Christie, on cutting funding for Planned Parenthood
10. “You can get it for $2.99 on Amazon. It’s not a best-seller, I promise…. Er — it’s affordable for everybody.” -Jeb Bush on his book, Immigration Wars
11. “I like Marco. He’s very charming; he’s very smooth.” – Ted Cruz
12. “I feel I need a Washington-to-English language converter.” -Chris Christie
13. “Dulce Candy is a pretty good name, actually…. She’s deserving of our respect for serving in the military and for being an entrepreneur.” -Jeb Bush
14. “Let me be clear: There’s only one savior, and it’s not me. It’s Jesus Christ.” -Marco Rubio
15. “I think Bernie Sanders is a good candidate for president — of Sweden.” -Marco Rubio, referencing a country that does not have a president
16. “One of her first acts might be to pardon herself.” -Marco Rubio on Hillary Clinton
17. “If I’m elected, she will not get within 10 miles of the White House. The days of the Clintons in public housing are over.” -Chris Christie
18. “Putin is a one-horse country. Oil. And Energy. And we ought to fight them on that level. We ought to be helping, in terms of the technology for fracking, keeping the price low, quite frankly, because that’s what’s keeping him contained.” -Ben Carson
19. “I got to do a couple of cataract surgeries over Christmas break…” -Ophthalmologist Rand Paul
20. “Folks, it’s not too late. Enough said.” -Ben Carson