Live Blog: CBS Republican Presidential Debate

By Mark Joyella 

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With the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, tonight’s CBS News Republican presidential debate takes on heightened drama, and the political fallout of Justice Scalia’s death will surely play a key role in the questioning tonight.

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio have already said a successor to Justice Scalia should be chosen by the next president–even if that means waiting 11 months for the new president to take office.

CbI6fBQWAAEAc8z.png-largeThe debate begins just minutes after remarks carried live from California by President Obama, who said “I plan to fulfill my Constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time.”

The President honored Scalia as “one of the towering legal figures of our time.”

On to the debate.

Face the Nation host and CBS News political director John Dickerson will serve as the main moderator for the debate, joined by CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett and The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly Strassel.

9:03 p.m. ET: Moment of Silence After a stumble-free entry by the candidates, John Dickerson noted the passing of Justice Scalia, and asked the candidates and audience to take part in a moment of silence.

The debate begins after a commercial break.

9:14 p.m. ET: “I Want to Get the Facts Straight for the Audience” Asking Ted Cruz about Scalia, Dickerson interrupts, then apologizes, saying “I want to get the facts straight for the audience.” Cruz pauses, and members of the audience boo.

9:34 p.m. ET: This Is Just Crazy. This Is Nuts. A fiery back-and-forth between Donald Trump and Jeb Bush over Iraq included Trump saying that former President George W. Bush lied about WMDs in the leadup to the war, and Bush pushed back against Trump for “going after my family.”

John Kasich, asked to weigh in, said “this is just crazy. This is nuts.”

10:02 p.m. ET: Bush, Trump Dominate Talk on Twitter Unsurprisingly after their big clash, Trump and Bush lead Twitter conversation after the first hour of the debate:

10:08 p.m. ET: Cruz, Rubio Clash Over Immigration In one part of the exchange, Rubio even hit Cruz over Spanish: “I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision, he doesn’t speak Spanish.”

10:26 p.m. ET: You Are the Single Biggest Liar Trump accuses Cruz of misconduct in South Carolina, accusing him of running ads suggesting Trump would not run in South Carolina and comparing the ads to the Cruz campaign’s comments about Ben Carson ahead of the Iowa caucus. “You are the single biggest liar,” Trump said to Cruz.

10:40 p.m. ET: Winners? Losers? So many bruising fights, it’s unclear who emerges from this a winner and who has been wounded. But many journalists point to John Dickerson as a winner:

10:58 p.m. ET: The Debate Has Ended Well, that was, um, feisty. Who won? Who lost?