Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Republican candidates joust over foreign policy, immigration

Published:Monday | February 15, 2016 | 12:00 AM
President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at Omni Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California.
Justice Antonin Scalia


Republican presidential candidates jousted over immigration and foreign policy in a raucous debate that was shaken by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia hours before they took the stage.

Scalia?s death thrust the future of the high court into the centre of a heated presidential campaign. In their debate Saturday night, the Republican candidates insisted that President Barack Obama step aside and let his successor nominate Scalia?s replacement instead, a position the White House vigorously opposed.

Among the contenders, only Jeb Bush said Obama had ?every right? to nominate a justice during his final year in office. The former Florida governor said the presidency must be a strong office, though he added that he didn?t expect Obama to pick a candidate who could win consensus support.

The five other candidates on the stage urged the Republican-led Senate to block any attempts by the president to get his third nominee on the court.

?It?s up to Mitch McConnell and everybody else to stop it,? Donald Trump said. ?It?s called delay, delay, delay.?

Just six contenders took the debate stage in South Carolina, far from the long line of candidates who participated in earlier Republican events. Yet the Republican race remains deeply uncertain, with party elites still hoping that one of the more mainstream candidates will rise up to challenge Trump and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Many Republican leaders believe both would be unelectable in November.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton said at a dinner in Denver that Obama has the right to nominate another justice. He ?is president of the United States until January 20, 2017. That is a fact my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not.?

?Let?s get on with it,? said her challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, arguing that the Senate should vote on whoever Obama nominates.