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GOP Debate
Candidates Marco Rubio (L) and Donald Trump spar during the Republican Presidential Debate in Detroit, Michigan, March 3, 2016. Getty Images
  • Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich faced off for the 12th time at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida.
  • The debate, which was hosted by CNN and The Washington Times, was moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper. Additional questions were delivered by CNN's Dana Bash, Salem Radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt and The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan.
  • The candidates have met ahead of primaries and caucuses in several states. Washington DC and Wyoming on 12 March and Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio on 15 March.

That's a wrap for our live coverage. Thanks for following and be sure to come back for the latest updates on the 2016 US election.

Closing statements:

  • Kasich: I have an unwavering, positive campaign. Says being positive may not be interesting but he will continue to run a positive campaign. Calls on voters in Illinois and Ohio to vote for him.
  • Rubio: Talks about his family's modest start as Cuban refugees. Says when he's elected, this generation "will do its part" for the country.
  • Cruz: Notes everyone's modest starts (except Trumps) and calls on the party to defeat Hillary Clinton.
  • Trump: "The Republican Party has the great chance to embrace millions of people that it's never known before." Calls on the party to "be smart and unify".

Discussion has turned to a potential contested convention and campaign contributions. Trump claims he will have enough delegates to win the party nomination and that he has not decided whether or not he'll take campaign donations during the general election. He also derides candidates for using super PACs. "I don't want anyone to control me but the people out there," he says.

Reporters argue that Trump's claim that protestors throw punches first is just wrong.

We're back from a brief commercial break. Trump is asked about the recent incidents of violence that have broken out during his rallies. He says he does not condone the violence. However, when Jake Tapper reads direct quotes of him inciting his supporters to violence, he says those protestors are "bad dudes".

Strong doesn't mean good. Putin is a strong leader. I don't say that in a good way or a bad way.

- Donald Trump

Meanwhile, Kasich:

Rubio is asked a climate change question, particularly in regards to its effect on Florida. He responds: "Sure, the climate is changing, and one of the reasons the climate is changing is because it's always been changing."

Do you agree? Who is winning the debate so far?

The discussion turns to Cuba. Trump claims he would re-close the US Embassy in Havana until he can re-work a deal with Cuba. Rubio quickly shuts down all his points, noting that Cuba should allow for free elections, let dissidents go, allow a free press, among other things.

Question for Rubio: What specifically would you do to make sure veterans in crisis get the help they need?

Rubio touts his legislation to hold VA accountable for its service to veterans. Even gives credit to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders for work on VA reform.

It looks like Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has tuned into the debate:

Trump asked if he's pro-Israel in a discussion of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Candidates asked: Would you target terrorists' families?

  • Trump stands by his previous assertion that he would order attacks on terrorists' families.
  • Rubio and Cruz say they will not order any attacks on innocent terrorist family members.

After a brief commercial break, Trump is asked about his comments that Islam hates the US. "I mean a lot of 'em," he says when asked if he believes all Muslims hate America.

Rubio jumps in and says he understands why Trump's comments appeal to so many voters, because he says what they would like to say. But he adds that a president cannot just say whatever he/she wants, because his/her words have consequences. Later adds that he doesn't want to be politically correct, but he does want to be correct.

Asked what's wrong with the Republican Party, Trump notes: "Trade deals are absolutely killing our country."

So far I cannot believe how civil it's been up here.

- Donald Trump

Wondering why the candidates aren't attacking each other? It may be all about the polls. Rubio launched several attacks towards Trump just last week, but instead of seeing a rise in the polls, he saw a decline.

During Wednesday's GOP town hall, Rubio said: "In terms of things that have to do with personal stuff, yeah, at the end of the day it's not something I'm entirely proud of. My kids were embarrassed by it, and if I had to do it again I wouldn't."

h/t The Hill

Trump is asked about Social Security as well. The leading GOP candidate doesn't want to make any changes to Social Security, despite reports that it will run out of money in about 20 years. "I want to make America great again and I want to leave Social Security as is," he said.

Rubio is asked about his Social Security plan. Says that Social Security should not change for older generations, but should change for his generation and younger. He would increase the retirement age first to 68 and gradually to 70.

More on Common Core:

  • Kasich: "Education has to be run at the school board level with a little guidance from the state."
  • Cruz: "Common Core is a disaster... I will direct the Department of Education that Common Core ends."

Discussion turns from immigration to education. Trump is asked about his opposition of Common Core. He claims that he's against education being run by Washington DC. Takes time to confirm that Ben Carson will be endorsing him tomorrow.

It seems Kasich is getting quite a bit more talking time than in previous debates. He reiterates his support for a path towards legalisation for undocumented immigrants. Note: legalisation NOT a path towards citizenship. "I'd be, you know maybe, running for president of Croatia if we didn't have immigration," he says.

First question: As an advocate for trade deals, has Kasich been catering to board rooms at the expense of the middle class?

Kasich responds that he's in favour of free trade but is more in favour of fair trade. Says that the US should shut down trade when member nations don't follow through with agreements.

Opening statements (30 seconds per candidate):

  • Kasich: Restore the economy. Will work to restore the spirit of America.
  • Rubio: Believes this is the most important election of a generation.
  • Cruz: Florida welcomed his father 59 years ago as a refugee from Cuba. Says the campaign is not insults but about the voters and the freedom granted to Americans.
  • Trump: Notes millions of voters are turning to the ballots to choose their GOP nominee. Calls on the Republican Party to embrace "what is happening" and says he will beat Hillary Clinton "soundly".

And the debate begins! John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio make their way onto the stage. The debate kicks off with a moment of silence for former First Lady Nancy Reagan, who passed away earlier this week.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus is on stage now. Says the GOP will support the party's nominee 100%.

We'll take this extra time we've been generously given by CNN to take a lot at the polls in Rubio's home state of Florida. The senator is in dire need of a big win in the Sunshine State, but polls continue to show Trump in the lead.

Looks like CNN has managed to make everyone tune in before the actual start of the debate. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus will speak soon and the candidates won't appear on stage until 8.55pm EST/1.55am GMT.

We're just moments away from what is likely to become a lively debate. Will we see a more subdued Trump as he tries to appeal to a wider voter base? Will there be more reference to the candidate's body parts? Only time will tell.

Reports are emerging that recent presidential candidate drop out Ben Carson will be endorsing Donald Trump. Carson, who suspended his campaign last week, plans to endorse Trump on Friday (11 March) morning, sources say. The endorsement follows just a few weeks after another campaign drop out—NJ Governor Chris Christie—endorsed the GOP frontrunner.

Carson's endorsement was finalised early on Thursday when the retired neurosurgeon met with Trump in Mar-a-lago, sources told reporters. The announcement will be made at a news conference in Palm Beach, Florida.

Former Carson staffers are also said to have joined Trump's campaign.

h/t The Washington Post

Welcome to our live coverage of tonight's GOP debate. Four candidates will face off as they vie to woo voters in Florida ahead of the 15 March primary. The next couple of days will be particularly crucial for the campaigns, with over 400 delegates up for grabs in six states and Washington DC. Here is how the candidates stand in delegate counts: