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GOP debate: A fiery, highly personal clash over Supreme Court vacancy, immigration, Iraq war

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Hillary Clinton receives endorsement from Planned Parenthood Republican debate: Trump and Cruz go from bromance to sparring partners Donald Trump is stuck on Jeb Bush like a dog with a bone, and he's not letting go Chris Christie heads back to New Jersey as blizzard approaches Democratic debate: Here's what you missed in Clinton vs. Sanders

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GOP candidates use the words 'lie' and 'liar' 22 times

Presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump make their points at the GOP debate in Greenville, S.C. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

Presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump make their points at the GOP debate in Greenville, S.C. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

GOP candidates used the words "lie," "liar," or "lying" 22 times Saturday night.

That's one higher than the number of times Hillary Clinton used the word "Obama" in the last Democratic debate.

From the spin room

One way to put it...

Their closing statements, in a tweet

Trumps vows to stop the profanity

Donald Trump, under fire for using a vulgar word that refers to a woman’s body part, said Saturday that he has used profanity in speeches previously, but would not do so again.

“Over the years I’ve made many speeches, big companies have asked me to make speeches…. And on occasion, in order to sort of really highlight something, I use a profanity,” he said during the GOP debate.

On Monday, during a rally in New Hampshire, Trump repeated an obscenity that a woman in the audience screamed out to describe Sen. Ted Cruz. Rivals such as Jeb Bush pounced, arguing that such language in front of an audience that included children was not statesmanlike.

Trump said he would not use profanity again, which would be “very easy.”

“I will not do it at all,” Trump said, while suggesting that the reaction was overblown. “If I say a word that’s a little bit off-color, it ends up being a headline.”

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the GOP debate in three words: 'Liar, liar, liar'

Ted Cruz has made it clear he sees the GOP primary as a battle royale against Donald Trump, and Saturday the feeling appeared mutual.

"I like Donald. He's an amazing entertainer," Cruz said. It was a wind-up.

"Thank you very much," Trump replied.

"For most of his life, his policies have been very, very liberal," Cruz continued, homing on Trump's past support for Planned Parenthood.

"You are the single biggest liar," Trump interrupted. "You are probably worse than Jeb."

"This guy will say anything," Trump said. "He's a nasty guy."

Trump, though, did acknowledge that he has praised Planned Parenthood, not for abortion services, but for providing women's healthcare.

Cruz, undeterred, went in for the closing argument.

"Donald has this weird pattern: When you point to his own record, he says, 'liar, liar, liar,'" Cruz said.

Trump on flip-flops: 'You have to have flexibility'

Donald Trump has changed his position on abortion and lauded Democrats in the past, leading his rivals to assail him. 

Asked on Saturday night about his "evolving positions," Trump said it's a part of life.

"In life, you have flexibility," said Trump. "When you're fighting wars you go one way - you have a beautiful plan, you can't lose, the enemy makes a change and all of sudden you have to change."

Super PACs with ties to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have hammered Trump in television advertisements for his flip-flops on abortion and his close ties to Hillary and Bill Clinton. 

On Saturday, Trump dismissed his critics. 

"You have to have flexibility," he insisted. 

Fact check: Cruz does have congressional support

Donald Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz of not having a single endorsement from his congressional colleagues. He's wrong. 

Roll Call is rounding up endorsements here, and Cruz has at least 19 members of the GOP-controlled House.

What Trump might have meant, and what is actually true, is that not a single Senate colleague has joined Team Cruz.

Two of Cruz's House endorsements are from California. 

Check out our handy endorsement tracker

Marco Rubio tests Ted Cruz's Spanish-language cred


The long-simmering feud over immigration between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio sizzled into new territory when the Floridan jabbed the Texan's Spanish-language cred.

Cruz launched into his now-familiar attack on Rubio for his work on the Senate's ill-fated immigration overhaul, and the various amendments they did and did not support.

"Marco has a long record when it comes to amnesty," Cruz said, noting that during a Spanish-language interview on Univision, Rubio declined to say whether he would repeal President Obama's immigration executive actions, which protect some immigrants from deportations.

"I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish," Rubio shot back.

And that led Cruz to do something he rarely does: He spoke (broken) Spanish.

Both men are the sons of immigrants from Cuba. 

But Cruz, whose American-born mother raised him on her own for some years while his parents were temporarily separated, is not as skilled in Spanish as Rubio, a fluent Spanish speaker who regularly does interviews in both languages.

The entire exchange prompted Jeb Bush, who is also fluent in Spanish, to summon what he called his "inner Chris Christie," the New Jersey governor who dropped out of the race.

"This is the reason I should be president, listening to two senators talk about arcane amendments to bills that didn't pass," Bush said.  

Roll tape: Cruz schools Rubio in Spanish

Can't we get along?

Bilingual battle

Who speaks Spanish?

Bush, Trump spar over Iraq war

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into a blistering exchange over the legacy of President George W. Bush during Saturday night’s GOP debate, the latest in their running battle throughout the presidential campaign.

Trump called the Iraq war “a big fat mistake,” and mocked Jeb Bush for being unable, earlier in the campaign, to answer a question about whether he would have gone to war knowing what we know now – that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

“It took him five days before his people told him what to say,” Trump said, before turning to Bush.

“George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes, but that one was a beauty,” he said, prompting boos from the audience. “They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction…. And they knew there weren’t.”

Bush responded by saying that he “could care less” about Trump’s insults, but “I am sick and tired of him going after my family. My dad is the greatest man alive, in my mind,” he said, as the audience applauded. “When 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.”

Trump interjected that the World Trade Center fell during President Bush’s watch, prompting more boos from the audience. “That’s not keeping us safe,” he said.

Bush ignored the remark and continued by saying that Trump had gone after his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush. “My mom is the strongest woman I know,” Bush said.

Trump tartly responded, “She should be running.”

Here's a primer on Marco Rubio's tax plan -- a shift from typical GOP lower-rates fare

Marco Rubio has proposed a hefty child tax break, a shift from GOP tax orthodoxy.

Here's what we wrote about it earlier:

Ever since 1981, when Ronald Reagan sat outside his California ranch and signed a tax-reform law that reversed half a century of mostly climbing rates, the pursuit of ever-lower income tax brackets has been the prime goal of Republican economic policy.

Altering that party orthodoxy has become a main exhibit for Sen. Marco Rubio’s claim to be a “new generation” Republican.

The 43-year-old Republican senator from Florida has proposed a tax plan that puts less emphasis on lowering the top tax rate and instead offers a large new credit for families with children, which he says will help working households.

GOP candidates predict one of them will name the next high court justice

Sen. Ted Cruz seized upon Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing to argue that the outcome of the presidential election will affect American policy for a generation.

“It underscores the stakes of this election,” he said during the opening minutes of the ninth GOP debate. “We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will reverse the Heller decision -- one of Justice Scalia’s seminal decisions -- that upheld the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans.”

He said the Senate must fight any attempt by President Obama to appoint a liberal to the court, which would amount to giving “up the Supreme Court for a generation.”

Cruz added that as voters in South Carolina decide whom to support in next weekend’s primary, they must recognize that that person will have the power to nominate justices.

“Who on this stage has the background, principle, character, judgment and strength of resolve to nominate and confirm a principled constitutionalist to the court?” he asked. “That will be what I will do if I’m elected president.”

Sen. Marco Rubio agreed about the issue's significance.

“It reminds of this, how important this election is. Someone on this stage will get to choose the balance of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Discussion about the Supreme Court dominated the first 15 minutes of the debate, beginning with a moment of silence for Scalia.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, asked if he would have a litmus test for Supreme Court justices, said he would not. He said it was within the president’s purview to nominate a replacement for Scalia, and he said President Obama ought to nominate someone with a “consensus orientation,” but he doubted he would.

Ted Cruz dings Donald Trump on economics

We have to understand the principles that made America great in the first place.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Stay away from my mama

Getting personal

Is South Carolina GOP trying to stop Trump?

By the numbers

All things Clinton | All things Trump

How does Clinton or Trump get to 270 electoral votes? Play with our map.

Who's endorsing who? Find out which celebrities support each candidate.

Find out which Republicans support Donald Trump

Get free news and analysis in your inbox daily from our political team.

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