It was Lindsey Graham’s night at the so-called “kid’s table” debate, largely considered a make-or-break moment for the four undercard candidates who battled it out during Wednesday’s third GOP scrimmage in Boulder, Colorado.
The South Carolina senator came out swinging with zinger after zinger, eclipsing fellow debaters Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York governor George Pataki and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.
Moderated by CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood, the CNBC debate was branded as “Your Money, Your Vote” and focused on the economy, job growth, taxes, technology and retirement.
Here are the most memorable moments from the “happy hour” debate:
1. It took all of four minutes to bring up Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton. Graham took aim at the former secretary of state saying that “Just a few days ago Hillary Clinton said that the problems of the V.A. are being exaggerated by Republicans. They are not. They are real.”
2. Perhaps the biggest moment of the debate came from Graham during an impassioned speech in which he took digs at both Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“At the end of the day, folks, I am trying to solve a problem and win an election. I am tired of losing!” Graham shouted. “Good God, look who we’re running against. The number one candidate on the other side thought she was flat broke after her and her husband were in the White House for eight years. The number two guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back,” adding, “If we don’t beat these people, who the hell we gonna beat?”
Sanders spent his 1988 honeymoon with his wife in Yaroslavl, in the then-Soviet Union.
3. The Sony hack made an appearance during the debate. When asked about cyber warfare and Chinese attacks, Pataki said that what’s needed is a “coordinated response.”
Graham then hit President Obama for being too weak on the issue.
If elected, he said, he’d give China and other foreign countries two options: an “open hand” or a “clenched fist.” “Make me commander in chief and this crap stops,” Graham said to loud cheers.
4. When asked by Harwood whether he should even be in the GOP debate or the other party’s because of his moderate views including climate change and immigration, Graham again came out on top, saying he believes in climate change because he’s spoken to experts.
“I’m not a scientist and I’ve got the grades to prove it,” drawing a huge laugh from the audience.
5. Right before closing statements, candidates were given a quick “lightning round” which included a question about their favorite apps.
Jindal said he has a Blackberry so he doesn’t really use apps. Santorum said he favors apps from the NHL, Major League Baseball and The Wall Street Journal. Pataki said he uses Uber the most now that he doesn’t have a driver anymore. But it was Graham who got the biggest laugh when he brought up the time Donald Trump gave out the senator’s personal cell phone number.
“The only reason I have an iPhone is because I gave my number to Donald Trump,” Graham said.