Republican debate wrapped, a good night for governors

Live from New York, it's Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders made his highly anticipated appearance on "Saturday Night Live." He joined doppelganger Larry David in a skit on a sinking ship, in which David demanded he be saved before the women and children because he's rich. Sanders steps in to complain about the "1%" getting preferential treatment. Then he explains democratic socialism. 

The skit may not go down as one of SNL's most memorable. 

The Sanders-focused bit that came just before, though, got much bigger laughs. Sanders did not act in it, but he was the starring character. Larry David played Sanders in an alternate universe, where the candidate has all the neuroses of David himself, as featured on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." "She’s the one who is being rude by offering a germ infested hand," David said of a voter whose hand he refused to shake. "I am running for president. I do not shake disgusting hands." 

Tonight's attacks, in a handy flow chart

Watch Trump answer LAT's waterboarding question

From the Spin Room.

Cheers from Kasich's camp

We needed a good night. And we had a good night. ...  We’ll see what happens Tuesday. But there were a few cheers in our green room for the first time in a while.

Tom Rath, a leader of Gov. John Kasich’s campaign in New Hampshire

Carson explains his missed entrance

Ben Carson details why he had that awkward moment as the debate began.

And when you watch the full video from offstage, it's pretty obvious that several candidates can't hear their names being called. 

And the moderators had their backs to the stage, so they couldn't tell when candidates had not walked to their lecterns. 

Worth noting that ABC is the network that started the Democratic debate without waiting for Hillary Clinton to return to her spot following a break.

Candidates battle over who is the most opposed to abortion

The GOP candidates clashed on who was the most opposed to abortion.

Chris Christie and Jeb Bush drew contrasts with Marco Rubio, who has called for outlawing the procedure in all cases except when a mother’s life is endangered.

Like Rubio, Christie and Bush describe themselves as “pro-life,” but both said exceptions were also appropriate in cases of rape and incest.

“This is a woman being violated,” Christie said about rape.

Rubio did not explain his support for including rape and incest cases in a federal abortion ban.

He instead called Democrats extremists on the issue, and said he couldn’t wait to expose them in the general election.

“Why doesn’t the media ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that all abortions should be legal, even on the due date of the unborn child?” he asked.

“Why don’t they ask Hillary Clinton why she believes that partial-birth abortion, which is a gruesome procedure that’s been outlawed in this country – she thinks that’s a fundamental right?”

Candidates give their Super Bowl predictions

Noting the teams playing in Super Bowl 50 tomorrow — the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos — are from battleground states in a general election, moderators asked the candidates who will win. 

John Kasich: Carolina

Jeb Bush noted that Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning supports him, so "I'm for Denver."

Marco Rubio replied, "Now I'm rooting for Carolina."

Ted Cruz chose Carolina, saying it was with the date Feb. 20 on his mind. (That's when Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina. The Panthers, for the record, play in Charlotte, N.C. That state votes March 15. Their practice facility is in South Carolina.)

Donald Trump: Carolina

Ben Carson demurred, saying he could predict with 100% certainty: "It will be either Denver or Carolina."

Chris Christie: Denver

A smaller military? Not the right metric, experts say

 (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Marco Rubio, the U.S. senator from Florida, has accused President Obama of allowing the country's military power to wither. In particular, he says the Air Force is smaller than ever. 

It's a similar line of attack to one Mitt Romney used when running against Obama in 2012. PolitiFact evaluated the issue, and called it an example of using "more or less accurate statistics to make a meaningless claim."

I do believe that selective service should be opened up for men and women.

Sen. Marco Rubio during Saturday's debate. Last week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said that women should register for the draft now that they can serve in combat. Young men in the U.S. must register, even though there is no draft.

A personal story from Cruz on drugs

Discussions about drug addiction have been pervasive during the campaign in New Hampshire, which is an epicenter of the country’s heroin epidemic.

Asked about the issue during the debate, Ted Cruz shared a personal story that he’s been talking about recently on the campaign trail. His half sister, Miriam, was addicted to drugs and went to jail before ending up living in what Cruz described as a crackhouse.

The Texas senator recalled going to the house with his father in hopes of helping Miriam.

“She wasn’t going to listen,” Cruz said. “She wasn’t going to change the path she was on.”

He said Miriam died of an overdose, and he called for local programs to help people struggling with addiction. But Cruz also tied the issue to border security.

“You’ve got Mexican cartels who are smuggling vast amounts of heroin into this country,” he said. “We know how to secure the borders. What’s missing is the political will to do it.”

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump differ on waterboarding

Ted Cruz probably would not bring back the infamous tactic known as waterboarding if elected president, but Donald Trump would -- and then some.

"I would bring back waterboarding," Trump declared. "And I'll bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding."

Cruz simply said he "would not bring it back in any sort of widespread use."

But, he added, "you can rest assured that as commander in chief, I would use whatever enhanced interrogation methods we could to keep this country safe."

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA interrogators used waterboarding, which simulates drowning, to try to extract information from several Al Qaeda suspects in custody.

The waterboarding and other harsh techniques -- which critics condemned as torture -- failed to produce useful intelligence about planned attacks and led to false confessions, according to the executive summary of a Senate intelligence committee report released in 2014.

President Obama formally ended the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" when he took office in 2009.

I'm not here just to add beauty to the stage. 

Ben Carson, jumping into the conversation on foreign policy

Cruz defends plan to 'carpet bomb' Islamic State

Ted Cruz, the U.S. senator from Texas, repeated his call for using overwhelming air power to target Islamic State terrorists. 

Pressed on whether he was risking civilian casualties, Cruz said he would loosen the rules of engagement for American forces.

“We are sending them into battle with their arms tied around their back,” he said. “We should use overwhelming force. Kill the enemy. And then get the heck out.”

Trump and Bush spar over property rights

Donald Trump and Jeb Bush got into a nasty spat over a topic that doesn't normally come up in presidential campaigns: seizure of private property under eminent domain.

The former Florida governor accused the New York developer of getting state officials to condemn an elderly woman’s home in Atlantic City so he could build a parking lot for limousines near his casinos.

“That is downright wrong,” Bush said, arguing that eminent domain should be used only for public purposes, such as building schools, hospitals and roads.

Trump mocked Bush for trying to be “a tough guy.”

“I didn’t take the property,” he insisted.

“You tried,” Bush retorted. “How tough is it to take property from an elderly woman?”

“Let me talk – quiet,” Trump told Bush, putting a finger to his lips. The audience groaned.

“That’s all of his donors and special interests,” Trump said.

That triggered more groans, and what sounded like boos, that grew louder as Trump told the TV audience that the Republican Party had salted the crowd with campaign contributors.

“Excuse me, the reason they’re not loving me is I don’t want their money,” Trump said.

Christie-Rubio clash drawing lots of interest

Fact check on campaign fundraising

In America, conservatism should mean not only that some rise with conservative principles, but everybody has a chance to rise regardless of who they are.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, during Saturday night's debate.

Audience boos Trump -- so he goes after them

Donald Trump took on the audience tonight, criticizing them as special interests, showing once again that he’s willing to defy almost every convention of politics.

It started when he put his finger to his mouth and told former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to “quiet” so he could continue speaking as the two men skirmished over eminent domain.

The audience booed.

“That’s all of his donors and special interests,” Trump shot back, staring them down.

They booed again and Trump, once again, said the same thing, that the only people who could get tickets were party donors.

It’s not the first time Trump has taken on an audience. “How stupid are the people of Iowa?” he said during a November appearance in the state.