Republican presidential hopefuls took an ax to President Barack Obama's foreign policy in the CNBC debate, particularly when it came to cybersecurity and relations with China.
"Here's the problem. We've being walked all over because the commander in chief is weak in the eyes of our enemies," Sen. Lindsey Graham said. "Do you think Putin would be in the Ukraine today if Ronald Reagan were president? Why are the Chinese stealing our intellectual property, hacking into our system? Why are they building islands over resource-rich waters? Because they can get away with it. .... Make me commander in chief and this crap stops."
Former Gov. George Pataki criticized Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers as a cybersecurity move that should "disqualify" her from the presidency.
"What I would do is put in place a policy where if we know a company, say a Chinese company,is hacking in to American companies and stealing trade secrets, as we know they do every day, we would retaliate against that company," Pataki said.
Candidates discussed the issue Wednesday night as part of a two-part televised debate, where Republican hopefuls vied to debate their way to the party's nomination for president in 2016.
by The New York Times and CBS this week put retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at the front of the pack of candidates, with 26 percent of Republican primary voters, trailed by Donald Trump at 22 percent, Marco Rubio with 8 percent, and Carly Fiorina and Jeb Bush with 7 percent each.
That contrasts with an Oct. 20 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which showed real estate mogul Trump leading with 25 percent, followed by Carson's 22 percent, Rubio's 13 percent, Sen. Ted Cruz' 9 percent and Bush's 8 percent.