The final Republican presidential debates started on Thursday evening with Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum sharing the stage just days before the Iowa caucus.

Electability Issues?

Huckabee and Santorum were asked about their electability, as both won the Iowa caucus in 2008 and 2012, respectively, but have not encountered much traction during the 2016 election season so far.

Huckabee said he doesn't think that his message isn't working but simply it's just not getting out. Santorum responded by criticizing that there was no media, namely Fox News, coverage for the four candidates on stage in the hour leading up to the 7 p.m. EST debate. The former Pennsylvania senator said the media has been segregating and taking Iowans out of the electoral process instead have focused on an "entertainer," which he referred to Donald Trump. Santorum, however, said he will not throw mud at anyone on and off stage, and that includes Trump. Huckabee and Santorum are planned to attend an event, hosted by Trump, to raise money and support veterans on Thursday night.

"You have a chance on Monday to put the record straight about who you want. Not who will entertain you, but who will fight for what you believe in," said Santorum.

Fiorina said the people she has seen have not asked her about a "crisis" in the Republican Party, particularly if there's a conservative vs. electability issue, but asked about the issues such as how to defeat the Islamic State militant group and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In Gilmore's first opportunity to speak, he acknowledged he's not focusing his campaign effort in Iowa, but starting on New Hampshire, which will hold its primary on Feb. 9, and wants to focus on veterans issues.

Islamic State

Santorum says there is a need for a serious discussion with Americans about Islam, namely the Islamic State militant group. Noting that the Islamic State, also referred to as ISIS, has established a caliphate and allowed people to follow them, Santorum wants to take away their land, return it to its rightful owners and put "boots on the ground" to combat the terror organization.

Huckabee agreed with Santorum. The former Arkansas governor said he wants to get rid of the Islamic State's social media platforms and wage war with them financially and militarily.

Fiorina said she has a message for President Barack Obama, that climate change is not the most pressing security threat, it's the Islamic State and Iran. In response to the remaining prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba, Gilmore said he wants the detention center open.


In response to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' meeting with a woman earning less than $10,000 in income, Santorum said the solution is to create jobs that have both wages and benefits. He also called for two million jobs back to the U.S. from China.

Huckabee said poverty programs keep people in poverty. "People are poor because they don't know how to get out of the hole," said Huckabee.

Gilmore blamed the media for "manipulating," "shaping" and "framing" the presidential campaign, noting Fiorina received back-to-back questions. Ironically, Gilmore was immediately asked another question about guns. Gilmore acknowledged he is a board member of the National Rifle Association, and as president of the U.S., gun control won't be an issue.

"If gun control comes to the president's desk ... I'll veto it as fast as it takes Hillary Clinton to eliminate her emails," Gilmore said.

Continuing on Democratic presidential front-runner Clinton, Fiorina said the former secretary of state will do anything to gain and hold onto power. Fiorina also took a shot at Bill Clinton. Fiorina said she would have left her husband a long time ago had he committed the same acts as Bill Clinton. Fiorina said the former New York senator has escaped more prosecution than alleged Mexican drug lord "El Chapo." She added that Clinton continues to lie to the American people and has not accomplished anything despite having many titles.

On Planned Parenthood, Fiorina said she will fund for women's health but defund Planned Parenthood.

Gilmore was asked who are his "moderate Muslims" that he gets advice from on combatting radical Islam. Gilmore said he does not want to identify them but met with a group as recent as last week, and called on Muslims to denounce extremism. He also said he does not want to be part of a Republican Party that dehumanizes groups such as Muslims and Hispanics.

Huckabee spoke against government spending, particularly in opposition of providing free college education. He explained that older generations would eventually become affected with such spending.

The debate concluded by nearly 8 p.m. EST, with moderators not asking about education, immigration or emphasized on the health care, as the latest open enrollment period is set to conclude on Jan. 31.