The Washington Post has a full transcript of the debate, and I Storified my live-tweeting.
I noted last Friday, in coverage of the last Democratic debate: "The Democratic debates are infinitely more substantive than the Republican debates. It's genuinely shocking (and terrifying) how huge the disparity is." And the last Republican debate only underscored how extraordinary that disparity really is.
Again, Trump's disgraceful performance did not erode his support from the GOP base. He is still leading in South Carolina, the site of the next primary, with a commanding 35%. Cruz and Rubio are tied for second place at a distant 18%.
[CN: Video may autoplay at first link] And Trump was so unhappy with getting booed during the debate—which he attributed to the audience being stacked with "special interests and donors," and he wasn't wrong—that now he is threatening to renege on his pledge to not mount a third-party run: "The RNC better get its act together because, you know, I signed a pledge. The pledge isn't being honored by the RNC. ...I signed a pledge, but it's a double-edged pledge. As far as I'm concerned, they're in default on their pledge."
And lest you imagine that Trump got booed for being a shameless bigot with garbage policy ideas that have been marinating in dumpster juice for three decades—nope! He was booed for saying that the Iraq War was a mistake and that 9/11 happened on George W. Bush's watch. Which Jeb Bush then said was an attack on his family.
Moderator John Dickerson of CBS News: On Monday, George W. Bush will campaign in South Carolina for his brother. As you've said tonight, and you've often said, the Iraq War and your opposition to it was a sign of your good judgment. In 2008, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, talking about President George W. Bush's conduct of the war, you said you were surprised that Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi didn't try to impeach him. You said, quote, "which personally I think would have been a wonderful thing." Close quote. When you were asked what you meant by that and you said: "For the war, for the war, he lied, he got us into the war with lies." Do you still believe President Bush should be—should have been impeached?Of all the things Donald Trump has said during this campaign worth booing, worth getting upset about, worth yelling at him about, Jeb Bush loses it over Trump saying that his brother was a shitty president who took us to war on a bunch of lies. And why? Because despite Trump's unabashed rhetoric that makes plain how gross Republican policies really are, whether George W. Bush needs defending is basically Trump's and Jeb Bush's only major point of disagreement.
Trump: First of all, I have to say, as a businessman I get along with everybody. I have business all over the world. [jeers and booing] I know so many of the people in the audience. And by the way, I'm a self-funder. I don't have—I have my wife and I have my son. That's all I have. I don't have this. [smattering of applause] So let me just tell you, I get along with everybody, which is my obligation to my company, to myself, et cetera.
Obviously, the war in Iraq was a big, fat mistake. All right? Now, you can take it any way you want, and it took—it took Jeb Bush, if you remember, at the beginning of his announcement, when he announced for president, it took him five days. He went back—it was a mistake; it wasn't a mistake. It took him five days before his people told him what to say, and he ultimately said, "It was a mistake."
The war in Iraq—we spent $2 trillion, thousands of lives, we don't even have it. Iran is taking over Iraq with the second-largest oil reserves in the world. Obviously, it was a mistake.
Trump: George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.
Dickerson: But so I'm going to— So you still think he should be impeached?
Bush: I think it's my turn, isn't it?
Trump: You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want. I want to tell you: They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction; there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction! [booing]
Dickerson: All right. Okay. All right. Governor Bush, when a member on the stage's brother gets attacked—
Bush: I've got about five or six—
Dickerson: —the brother gets to respond.
Bush: Do I get to do it five or six times or just once responding to that?
Trump: I'm being nice.
Bush: So here's the deal. I'm sick and tired of Barack Obama blaming my brother for all of the problems that he's had. [cheers and applause] And, frankly, I could care less about the insults that Donald Trump gives to me. It's blood sport for him. He enjoys it. And I'm glad he's happy about it. But I am sick and tired...
Trump: He spent $22 million in—
Bush: I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive in my mind. [applause] And while Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe. And I'm proud of what he did. [applause] And he's had the gall to go after my brother.
Trump: The World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign, remember that. [booing]
Bush: He's had the gall to go after my mother. Hold on. Let me finish. He has had the gall to go after my mother.
Trump: That's not keeping us safe.
Bush: Look, I won the lottery when I was born 63 years ago, looked up, and I saw my mom. My mom is the strongest woman I know.
Trump: She should be running.
Bush: This is not about my family or his family. This is about the South Carolina families that need someone to be a commander-in-chief that can lead. And I'm that person.
Your modern Republican Party, folks.