Live Blog: The CNBC Republican Debate

By Mark Joyella 

Frontrunner Donald Trump has yet to take the stage, but he’s already concluded the CNBC Republican presidential debate will be “very unfair.”

Trump may be expecting a pile-on, from the moderators–and his fellow candidates. On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Wednesday morning, debate co-moderator Carl Quintanilla said “the race is getting tight enough and competitive enough at this point, that we’re not going to have to goad (the candidates) into going after each other. I think there are going to be fireworks.”

In the JV debate ahead of the main event, Lindsey Graham gave a shout-out to another network when asked about the apps he uses most on his phone. “Fox News, sorry, CNBC…we’re in a Republican primary here,” the candidate said.

“Thanks. Thanks a lot,” the moderators joked. “We take your time back.”

Now, all joking aside, it’s on to the big show:

8:16 p.m. ET: Oh, Now It Starts? CNBC irritated some by dragging its heels –the debate had been advertised as starting at 8 p.m.–in favor of continuing commentary by the network’s hosts, who were heavily mocked on Twitter:

8:30 p.m. ET: CNBC Gets Pushed Around The Candidates are not answering moderators’ questions–or being cooperative with time, and, coming on the heels of the mockery the network was subjected to ahead of the debate’s start, the network continues to get criticized on Twitter:

8:35 p.m. ET: “Someone Has Convinced You That Attacking Me is Going to Help You” Sen. Marco Rubio, asked about an editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that suggested he was “ripping off” his constituents by failing to vote so that he could run for president, turned the question around on the mainstream media, to great applause.

When Jeb Bush joined the attack, Rubio fired back. “Someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”

8:45 p.m. ET: Cruz Takes a Shot at CNBC Sen. Ted Cruz suggested the CNBC debate’s questions have been unfair. “The questions asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” Cruz said. “This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions. Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain, Ben Carson, can you do math. John Kasich, will you insult two people over here.”

Moderator Carl Quintanilla pushed back, saying “I asked you about the debt limit, but got no answer.”

9:00 p.m. ET: Has CNBC Lost Control? Even fellow journalists are wondering if CNBC’s moderators are being rolled by the candidates:

9:06 p.m. ET: Warm Kiss Jeb Bush says “find me a Democrat that would cut spending $10, I’ll give him a warm kiss.” No comment.

9:25 p.m. ET: “Where Did I Come Up With This?” CNBC moderator Becky Quick asked Trump about his opposition to visas for foreign students getting advanced degrees. Trump flatly denies it, and Quick, confused by his denial, said “where did I come up with this?”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell notes, however, that Quick was correct:

Quick did return to the question at 9:45 p.m., noting that Trump’s position on the visas was right there on the Trump website.

10:11 p.m. ET: “Poorly Run Debate” Politico reports Bush campaign manager Danny Diaz got into a “heated confrontation with a CNBC producer” during tonight’s debate, with Diaz unhappy over the network’s management of the debate. “It’s a poorly managed debate,” a Bush campaign staffer told Politico.

10:18 p.m. ET: Trump Claims Victory Over CNBC In his closing statement, Donald Trump detailed his threatened boycott, which he said forced CNBC to keep the debate to just two hours. Moderator John Harwood said that was not true.

10:21 p.m. ET: That Concludes Our Debate CNBC, maybe don’t read the papers tomorrow morning.