GOP candidates squared off in their latest presidential debate on Fox Business Network, focusing on more serious policy questions in a contrast to previous encounter that quickly showcased the theatrics of politics.
The first question was posed to Donald Trump, on whether he would raise the minimum wage as president.
“There is nothing we do now to win,” he said, referring to global competitiveness. “We don’t win anymore.” With “taxes too high, wages too high,” Trump said, “I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is.”
Carson said he would not raise it either.
“Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases,” he said, adding that it would hurt those entering the job market, including African Americans. He previously has said that the minimum wage should be higher.
Marco Rubio said that “in the 21st Century it’s a disaster” to raise the wage, accelerating the shift to automation and hurting the manufacturing sector.
“We need more welders and less philosophers,” he said.
John Kasich noted that his state, Ohio, has raised the minimum wage. “Ecomomic theory is fine, but you know what? People need help.”
The debate on Fox Business Network is the fourth gathering of GOP presidential candidates. But there were only eight candidates on stage for the main debate, after Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee got bumped to the so-called “undercard” debate earlier in the day.
The stakes were perhaps highest for Jeb Bush, who entered the race as the presumptive front runner yet has lagged in the polls after previous lackluster debate performances.
He complained when Kasich tried to chime in on a question. “I got about four minutes my last debate. I’m going to get to my question now.” Bush said that he would repeal new regulations “in progress” by the Obama administration, including “regulation of the Internet,” or net neutrality.
There also was considerable attention on Carson, leading in some polls, who has complained that he has been treated unfairly as the media tries to corroborate stories about his background.
“I have no problem being vetted,” Carson said. “What I do have a problem with is being lied about.”
The focus of the debate was on the economy, but there was expected attention on the moderators, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo and Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerard Baker, after complaints over the questions asked of the candidates at the CNBC debate.