Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump defended federal funding to Planned Parenthood during Saturday night's presidential debate in South Carolina and also did not back away from his past support of impeaching former President George W. Bush.
At times during the debate, the discussion led to very heated back-and-forth exchanges between candidates, most of which involved the billionaire real estate mogul who currently leads by wide margins in most South Carolina Republican nomination polls.
After Trump used former President Ronald Reagan to defend himself as "flexible" for changing his mind on certain issues like abortion and his views on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz chimed in by suggesting that Trump has been too flexible on things that should be "core principles" for conservatives and pro-lifers.
"I like Donald. He is an amazing entertainer but his policies for most of his life, his policies have been very, very liberal," Cruz argued. "For most of his life, he has described himself as very pro-choice and a supporter of partial-birth abortion. Right now, today as a candidate, he supports federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. I disagree with him on that. That's a matter of principle."
With Cruz's campaign having allegedly used dishonest tactics against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson in the last couple of weeks, Trump first responded to Cruz's assertion by ignoring the charge that he opposes stripping the nation's largest abortion provider of its over $500 million in annual federal funding. Trump responded simply by calling Cruz a liar.
"You are the single biggest liar," Trump said of Cruz. "You probably are worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar."
Cruz responded by pointing out that Trump, who was one of the few GOP candidates who defended Planned Parenthood last year when conservatives pushed to pass defunding legislation, ignored his point about Trump's support of federal taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood.
"Let me say this. You notice Donald didn't disagree with the substance that he supports taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood," Cruz said. "Donald has this weird pattern. When you [bring up] his own record, he screams 'liar,liar, liar!' If you want to go and watch the video, go to our website TedCruz.org, you can see it out of Donald's own mouth."
Trump then challenged Cruz to explain where he had ever said he supported Planned Parenthood.
"You supported it when [Congress was] battling over defunding Planned Parenthood," Cruz responded. "You went on television and said, 'Planned Parenthood does wonderful things and we should not defund them.'"
Trump responded by saying, "It does do wonderful things but not as it relates to abortion."
"There are wonderful things having to do with women's health but not when it comes to abortion — that's where I draw the line," Trump said after Cruz asked him to explain what "wonderful" things Planned Parenthood does.
"You see, you and I disagree on that," Cruz stated. "That's the reason principle matters. The reason why principles matter was illustrated in the first questions today [regarding the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia]. The next president is going to appoint one, two, three, four Supreme Court justices. If Donald Trump is president, he will appoint liberals."
Cruz added later in the debate that he knows Trump will nominate a liberal to the Supreme Court because "his entire life he supported liberals from Jimmy Carter, to Hillary Clinton, to John Kerry."
Earlier in the debate, Dickerson pointed out that in 2008, Trump told Wolf Blitzer that it would have been a "wonderful" thing if President Bush had been impeached. Dickerson asked Trump if he still thinks Bush should have been impeached.
Trump did not directly answer the question but stated that the war in Iraq was a "big, fat mistake" and attacked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for taking five days after he announced his presidential bid to say that his brother's war was a mistake.
Dickerson again asked Trump whether he thought George W. Bush should have been impeached.
"You do whatever you want. You call it whatever you want," Trump told Dickerson. "I want to tell you they lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction."
Jeb Bush responded by saying that he is "sick and tired" of Trump going after his family and added that while Trump was a reality television star, his brother was doing things to make Americans safer.
"The World Trade Center came down during your brother's reign, remember that," Trump rebutted.
Rubio jumped in the conversation and defended Bush by saying that he was glad that it was Bush in the White House on Sept. 11, 2001 and not former Vice President Al Gore. Rubio agreed that the Bush administration kept Americans safe but also took down brutal dictator Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam Hussein was in violation of U.N. resolutions, in open violation, and the world wouldn't do anything about it, and George W. Bush enforced what the international community refused to do," Rubio said. "And again, he kept us safe, and I am forever grateful to what he did for this country."
Trump responded by asking how Bush kept America safe and again placed blame on Bush for the attacks on 9/11.
"How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center … The World Trade Center came down during the reign of George Bush," Trump said. "He kept us safe? That is not safe. That is not safe, Marco. That is not safe."
Marco responded by implying that more of the blame should be put on the Bill Clinton administration.
"The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn't kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him," Rubio said.
However, Trump argued that the Bush administration also had the chance to kill Bin Laden and stated that Bush didn't listen to the advice of the CIA.
The South Carolina Republican primary will be Saturday, Feb. 20.