South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham used a number of memorable lines to stand out in CNBC’s economic undercard debate in Boulder, Colorado.
The debate with the four lowest-polling Republican candidates was hardly contentious — the candidates rarely attacked each other and instead spent their time answering economic questions. Graham, though, was the most successful in making memorable made-for-TV quips in the televised showdown before the top tier candidates running for the White House.
Referencing Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders , the self-described Democratic socialist, Graham said at one point: “The number two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.”
At another point in the debate, Graham issued a warning to foreign governments.
“To the Chinese,” the Republican said, “when it comes to dealing with me, you’ve got a clenched fist or an open hand. You pick. The party’s over, to all the dictators. Make me commander in chief and this crap stops.”
At one point, though, the CNBC host pressed Graham on his views that are at odds with the conservative base of the party.
“You have said you believe that climate change is real,” CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla said. “You’ve said you accept tax increases as part of a budget deal with Democrats. You’ve co-sponsored a Senate immigration bill providing a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally. Are you in the wrong party’s debate?”
“No,” Graham replied, “I think I’m trying to solve problems that somebody had better solve. Now, you don’t have to believe that climate change is real. I have been to the Antarctic. I’ve been to Alaska. I’m not a scientist, and I’ve got the grades to prove it.”
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York Gov. George Pataki and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also participated in the debate.
Pataki, whose campaign has not gotten much attention, scored an early applause line in the debate by going hard on Clinton over her emails while secretary of state.
“Hillary Clinton put a server, an unsecure server, in her home as secretary of state,” Pataki said. “We have no doubt that that was hacked, and that state secrets are out there to the Iranians, the Russians, the Chinese and others.”
“That alone should disqualify her from being president of the United States,” Pataki added.
Jindal was asked his views on paid maternity leave for new moms — an issue Democrats have been pushing. “Look, I think the government should work to change that, but that doesn’t — does not mean I’m for the government mandating that,” Jindal said.
Added Jindal: “We already have too many government mandates out of D.C.”
Santorum used the debate to remind the audience that he won Colorado’s Republican primary in 2012. He was asked by the questioner about Coors beer, founded in the state, and whether he fears that a “a third of brewers in this country owned by one company” will “have too much power over consumers.”
“I do drink a lot of Coors beer,” Santorum said.
“The answer is pretty simple,” he said. “There are no shortage of breweries around the United States of America.”