Republican Town Hall Battle: Donald Trump vs. Cruz, Rubio and Carson

TheWrap follows all the action live and on social media as Trump’s MSNBC town hall competes directly with Cruz, Rubio and Carson on CNN

Last time, Donald Trump took on the entire Republican field. On Wednesday night, he only had to compete with three of his opponents.

CNN’s Town Hall kicked off back-to-back nights of GOP presidential candidates making their cases before Saturday’s crucial South Carolina primary. Anderson Cooper moderated the event, which featured Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, while Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Donald Trump get the stage Thursday night.

Meanwhile, Trump had his very own Town Hall on MSNBC at the exact same time as CNN’s event. “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski moderated the hour-long event with The Donald.

It’s reminiscent of the night Trump decided to skip the GOP debate right before the Iowa caucuses, holding his own fundraising event for veterans blocks away.

So, which one was better? It doesn’t matter. Your friends at TheWrap had you covered. Here’s the complete timeline of the night.

4:56: And we’re off… People are getting ready for the match.


4:58: and on CNN…

5:01: MSNBC kicks it off with a montage of Trump highlights while CNN is giving viewers the big news of the day including Cruz’s comments today daring Trump to sue him.

5:03: Maybe it’s not a liberal love fest after all, immediately questioning Trump’s last debate performance.

5:07: Viewers aren’t happy with the MSNBC camerawork…

5:08: CNN still has talking heads… doing a lot of talking.

5:16: CNN finally getting to the town hall with a fast-paced montage… only 16 minutes late.

5:17: TheWrap’s Brian Flood gets a text from his father: “Mika looks like she’s ready to pounce.”

5:19: Carson is first. Cooper wants to know what’s harder: brain surgery or running for president (brain surgery). But people really want to know…

5:22: Rocky start for Ben Carson.

5:23: Trump gets his first question from the audience… and she’s a Democrat.

5:24: Carson says he would nominate a Supreme Court justice in his last year as president.

5:26: Carson is asked how he would reconcile the difference between Christian values and the GOP stance on social issues. But some aren’t feeling his answers so far.

5:31: Carson is asked how he would protect the right to own guns. Says people should get classes in gun safety.

5:35: A voter asks Carson if he would accept the job as Surgeon General should he lose the race for president. He says he’s not looking for a job. Apparently being president of the Untied States is a hobby for Carson.

5:40: Meanwhile in Trump country…. Mika is getting lots of tweets on her faces.

5:46: Carson is asked about criminal justice reform by a young woman who lost a friend to murder. Carson says that the government should provide criminals with tools to reintegrate into society.

“We have 5 percent of the population of the world and 25 percent of the inmates and that obviously means that something is askew,” Carson said. “We need to be thinking about whether they’re going there for life or whether they’re going to be reintegrated into society.”

5:47: Trump says peace in the Middle East is the toughest deal on the planet.

5:59: This woman is not impressed with Carson’s answer.

5:47: We don’t think the Bush family will be staying at a Trump hotel anytime soon.

5:53: Cooper asks Carson what music he likes to listen to. Classical. And he’s done.

6:00: Rubio is up. Cooper asks him about his Marco-mentum. He likes the term.

6:08: Rubio says he still had student loan debt until a few yeas ago.

6:24: Cooper asks Rubio if he has ever felt the sting of racism.”

Rubio says that, “Some of the neighborhood kids, older kids, were taunting my family,” adding, “I never saw it a reflection on America, I saw it as a reflection on those kids and what they were hearing.”

6:30: Rubio is asked about SCOTUS.

6:31: Rubio is talking 100 miles a minute.

6:37: Rubio says “the most important job I will ever have is not to be president of the United States, it will be father to my four children.”

6:42: Some people aren’t feeling his attempts to sound human.

6:50: Rubio is done… after talking about EDM (Electronic Dance Music). But his best line seems to be this one, at least according to Twitter.

6:52: Some people are #FeelingtheMarcoMentum.

6:53: Cruz is up. Says he laughed when he saw Donald Trump’s cease and desist letter. He calls it “ridiculous.”

6:56: Some people not feeling Cruz.

7:17: Cruz admits he’s a “painfully” bad singer.

7:21: People are mocking #andersoncooperquestions.

7:31: Ted Cruz is asked to defend his status as a natural-born citizen of the United States.

7:36: Cruz is asked whether Obama’s Supreme Court nominee should get a hearing.

He says he would not endorse a committee hearing on whomever Barack Obama nominates.

“For 80 years, it has been the practice that the senate has not confirmed any nomination that has occurred during an election year… I don’t think it would be fair to the nominee.”

7:39: Cruz on being called a liar by Rubio and Trump: “This is a strange election season in many ways.”

7:47: Some people are all Cruzed out.

7:52: Yeah he actually said that…

7:55: Cruz says his favorite drink is Scotch… and Twitter goes wild.

7:58: In conclusion…