The Latest: GOP hopefuls clash over Kim Davis, religion

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — The latest on the GOP presidential debates at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. (all times local):


5:55 p.m.

Republican presidential hopefuls are differing on Kentucky clerk Kim Davis.

Davis went to jail rather than allow gay couples to marry in defiance of the Supreme Court's recent legalization of same-sex unions. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says Davis has the right to defy an unjust court ruling. He reiterated his statement during the second Republican presidential debate.

Huckabee declined to criticize former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for saying Davis does not have the right to deny gays marriage licenses. Bush said he supports defending the rights of religious people to refuse to endorse gay marriage. But he said someone else in Davis' office should sign the certificates since the Supreme Court ruling is the law of the land.

Bush said he thinks there should be "accommodation for someone acting on their faith."


5:53 p.m.

Donald Trump says President Barack Obama doesn't have courage.

The billionaire, asked whether Congress bears responsibility for the Syrian refugee crisis, says he would have gone in with "tremendous force" when the Syrian regime attacked its own people.

That was in response to a question about whether Congress is responsible for backing Obama, who refused to order military action after the Assad regime attacked Syrians.

Trump says: "Somehow he just doesn't have courage. There's something missing from our president."


5:51 p.m.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush say the next president should not immediately reverse the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Republican party was staunchly against the deal cut by the Obama administration. Several GOP candidates have vowed to overturn the agreement, should they win the White House.

Paul took a different approach, saying it would be "absurd" to "cut up the agreement immediately."

Bush echoed that position, saying "it's not a strategy to tear up an agreement." Instead, he would strengthen ties with Israel, a move he says will create "a healthier deterrent effect than anything else I can think of."


5:45 p.m.

Donald Trump says as president he would get along better with world leaders, including Russia's Vladimir Putin, than President Obama and that will make the world more stable.

Trump says Putin has "absolutely no respect for President Obama."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says Putin is "trying to replace us as the single most important power broker in the Middle East."

And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina says Russia is a bad actor and the only way to stop Putin is to show "strength and resolve." She says she would rebuild the U.S. missile defense system as part of her foreign policy strategy.


5:40 p.m.

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump are mixing it up over big-money donors' influence.

Trump has contended that Bush and others are puppets of their campaign contributors. At the second Republican presidential debate, Bush shot back. He said Trump once gave him money hoping to expand casino gambling in Florida while Bush was governor there. But Bush stood firm.

Trump denied he wanted the gaming expansion. The two men began to argue.

Bush noted that Hillary Clinton attended Trump's most recent wedding and said the developer has praised House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi. Trump said he had to get along with all politicians and quipped that Bush has "more energy." He has been making fun of what he calls Bush's low-energy presentation for weeks.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson jumped into the exchange. He's risen in polls to just behind Trump and boasted he has refused to court big donors. Carson said he would not "lick the boots of billionaires."


5:32 p.m.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich figuratively is waving his arms at the start of the debate, which has quickly turned into a group attack on Donald Trump.

Kasich says anyone tuning into the debate would see it and change the channel.

He says with desperation in his voice: "People want to know what we're going to do to fix this place. It may be buzzing out there. But I think it's important that we get to the issues."


5:35 p.m.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is declining to single out his rivals for attack, saying he's running because he concerned about the country's divisiveness and fiscal state.

He says, "I don't want to really get into describing who's a politician and who's not."

Carson has cast himself as an outsider running above the political fray.


5:29 p.m.

Scott Walker is asserting himself early in the second Republican presidential debate by going after front-runner Donald Trump.

Walker tells Trump: "We don't need an apprentice in the White House. We have one right now." And he says Trump has put projects into bankruptcy and he can't do that to America.

Trump says he would do better than Walker has leading Wisconsin since 2011, saying the state is losing $2.2 billion. The state faced that shortfall heading into this year, but Walker signed a budget in July that eradicated it.

Walker says he is someone who will take on the special interests in Washington and fight for average Americans.


5:28 p.m.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is unveiling a new line of attack against Donald Trump at the opening of tonight's debate: He's too brash to lead.

Paul is arguing that Trump's temperament would make him untrustworthy in high-level international negotiations.

Paul says he's worried about having Trump in control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, citing his "careless language" and attack on people's appearances.

Trump quickly shot back with a slam on Paul: "I never attacked him on his looks and believe me there's plenty of substance right there."


5:25 p.m.

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina isn't saying whether she trusts Donald Trump in control of the country's nuclear arsenal.

Fiorina punted on the first question posed in the second Republican presidential debate, about whether she felt comfortable with Trump having access to the nuclear launch codes.

Instead, Fiorina calls Trump a "wonderful man," adding that "all of us will be revealed over time and under pressure."

She says whether Trump can be trusted with nuclear weapons is for voters to decide.


5:20 p.m.

In introducing themselves, several Republican candidates for president are genuflecting at Ronald Reagan's tomb, not far from the library where they are debating.

Ohio's John Kasich points behind him at the Air Force One: "I actually flew in that plane."

Florida's Marco Rubio credits Reagan for inspiring his public service and "love of country."

And Wisconsin's Scott Walker says he is in the mold of Reagan, whom America needs "now more than ever."


5:18 p.m.

Gov. Chris Christie is kicking off the second GOP presidential debate by saying Barack Obama has drained America of hope.

The New Jersey governor used his introduction to ask CNN to turn the camera from him to the audience. He asked the crowd in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to raise their hands if they believed their children had a better future due to Barack Obama. No hands went up.

Christie promised to reverse that.


5:12 p.m.

The debate between top-tier Republican presidential candidates is under way. Eleven candidates are opening the debate with introductions.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee took a shot at Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson says he's in the race because he's concerned about the future for America's children.

Front-runner Donald Trump reminds the crowd he's "made billions and billions of dollars."