GOP candidates square off in Colorado debate

The top 10 Republican candidates for president debate in Boulder, Colo., at 7 p.m. Wednesday night.

Update 9:05: CNBC moderators took center stage at the third GOP presidential debate, as several candidates took aim at what they called unfair questions.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the last to blame moderators, complaining about John Harwood’s interjections: “Even in New Jersey, what you’re doing is called rude.”

Update 8:50: Donald Trump said he would feel more comfortable if his employees carried guns to work.

“I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe. They are feeding frenzies for sick people,” Trump said at the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night.

When asked if Trump resorts that don’t allow guns should change their policies, Trump said, “I would change them.”

Update 7:55 p.m.: U.S. Sen Ted Cruz drew huge applause in the GOP presidential debate Wednesday night by attacking the moderators for trying to turn the debate into a “cage match.”

“The questions illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said.

Given a second chance to answer a question about the pending federal budget agreement, Cruz continued to attack the moderators.

Moderator John Harwood then shut down Cruz and addressed U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

“You don’t want to hear the answer, John?” Cruz said.

“You used your time on something else,” Harwood told him.

Update 7:44: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, facing a pivotal moment in his flagging presidential campaign, attacked fellow Floridian U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for being absent for votes in the Senate while running for president.

“You should be showing up to work,” Bush said at the third GOP debate Wednesday,  or “just resign.”

Rubio deflected a question about a South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial calling for Rubio to resign by saying the mainstream media has a double standard with Republican and Democratic candidates, drawing the biggest applause line of the night so far.

Update 7:35: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, standing at the end of the GOP presidential debate stage, came out swinging Wednesday night, calling the tax plans of frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson “fantasy.”

“Folks we gotta wake up. We cannot elect somebody who doesn’t know how to do the job,” Kasich said. “These plans would put us trillions and trillions of dollars in debt. … Why don’t we just give a chicken in every pot.”

Kasich, who touted his experience balancing budgets in Congress and in Ohio, said his plan would “create jobs, cut taxes and balance the budget.”

Earlier: Donald Trump’s standing in the important early voting state of Iowa is slipping, and his appeal is dimming nationally, at least according to a recent poll. Will he continue to bask in the debate stage limelight?

Fellow political novice Ben Carson finds himself leading the race in one poll out this week. His laconic debate style didn’t leave a strong impression in the first two debates. Will that be enough this time around?

Jeb Bush recently cut staff and needs a strong, aggressive showing to reassure his donors. If he turns in another milk toast performance, his supporters may start searching for a new candidate.

Ted Cruz has been scooping up backers of Scott Walker, who departed the race since the last debate, and claims momentum, but he is still registering in single digits in national polls. Last debate Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, ranked near the bottom in terms of air time. Will he seek to play a bigger role in this debate?

Marco Rubio is now in a distant third place, according to an aggregate of polls, and the top ranked politician in the race. Can he break free from the pack in Boulder?

Austin-born Carly Fiorina scored points in the first two debates, but she hasn’t been rewarded in the polls. How will she be remembered in the third debate?

For those in the back of the pack — Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich — this debate stage seems the best, and possibly last, chance to make a strong impression.

The four remaining candidates — Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham — will debate separately at 5 p.m.

 

 

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