Republican presidential hopefuls met for the fourth time Tuesday at the Milwaukee Theatre in a smaller, but still lively debate.

This time, only eight candidates participated in the main debate, down from the previous 10 candidates. The debate, hosted by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal, focused much of its attention on the nation’s economy.

Minimum wage

While candidates sparred over what to do with the nation’s taxes and wages, thousands of people across the nation, including in Madison and outside of the Milwaukee Theatre, took to the streets to protest minimum wage in the “Fight for 15” campaign.

But many of the candidates on stage voiced opposition to raising the minimum wage.

At the debate, real estate mogul Donald Trump said he believes taxes and wages are too high. To become economically and militarily competitive in the world, Trump said raising wages would be a step in the wrong direction.

“I would not raise the minimum,” Trump plainly stated.

Many candidates echoed Trump in saying they would not raise the minimum wage, including other front-runners, neurosurgeon Ben Carson and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

But Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, noted his state has created a moderate minimum wage increase.

“You know what? People need help,” he said.

Value of higher education

Keeping in line with the theme of economy, Rubio criticized the nation’s “outdated” higher education system, calling it too expensive and too hard to access.

Throughout his campaign, Rubio has been critical of traditional higher education, and instead, has emphasized the value of vocational training.

“I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education,” he said. “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.”

This statement has been refuted with data that supports philosophers do actually make more than welders.

Reform plans

Many of the candidates offered similar solutions for creating jobs and stimulating the economy, focusing on cutting taxes and reducing government regulation.

In her plan for government reform, businesswoman Carly Fiorina made the first and only reference to Gov. Scott Walker of the night.

“We need to build a meritocracy,” she said, like the one Walker is attempting to create in Wisconsin.

Many believed Tuesday would have been Walker’s night to shine in his run for the presidential nomination. Instead, he watched from the sidelines as the other candidates battled it out in his home state.

Gov. Scott Walker formally drops out of 2016 presidential race[Update 9/22]: Following a rapid decline in the polls, Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday he’ll drop his bid for the Read…

Walker has yet to endorse any of his former competitors.


For candidates and the GOP, Tuesday’s debate was a high note compared to CNBC’s on Oct. 27.

“Our candidates, not the moderators, were at the center of tonight’s debate, and they were all treated with fairness and respect,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Thanks to a well-run debate, the country was able to see our diverse field of talented and exceptionally qualified candidates exchange ideas for how to reinvigorate the economy and put Americans back to work.”

The candidates agreed. In the spin room, Trump called the debate “elegant.”

Though the eight candidates in the main debate didn’t agree on all the issues, they came together on multiple occasions to make a common enemy out of Democratic front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

From a wifi password “StopHillary,” to continued jabs at Clinton’s policy actions, the GOP candidates clearly communicated their feelings toward Clinton.

The Democrats will face off in their next debate Saturday in Des Moines; the Republicans will meet again Dec. 15 in Nevada.