Republican Presidential Candidates Take Part In CNN Town Hall

Three Republican presidential candidates are appearing in the second part of a CNN town hall-style event in South Carolina.  Donald Trump, Jeb Bush and John Kasich are featured tonight. 

John Kasich took the stage first and offered some advice for the other candidates:  slow down and actually listen to the concerns of average voters. The Ohio governor was pressed about the dispute between rival Donald Trump and Pope Francis.  Kasich said, "I'm pro-Pope; put me down in the pro-Pope column."  

Kasich said the national economy must be rebuilt from the bottom up, not the top down.  He argued that politicians should not be "messing around with the 2nd Amendment" and suggested more needs to be done on mental illness to curb gun violence. Kasich accused President Obama of overreaching with executive actions saying that has contributed to the political polarization in Washington.

Jeb Bush was the 2nd candidate to join Anderson Cooper on the stage. Bush was asked about the rift between rival Donald Trump and the Pope. Bush noted that he is Catholic but that  it is inappropriate for Pope Francis to be questioning anyone's faith.

Bush noted that he would nominate a Supreme Court justice if he were in the last year of his presidency.  The former Florida governor said, "Whatever powers are afforded the president, the president ought to use them."  Bush said he would be looking for someone with a strong and consistent judicial record who does not seek to "legislate from the bench."  

Bush stood firmly behind 2nd Amendment gun rights.  He said it is as important as any other constitutional amendment.  He also brushed off criticism after tweeting a picture of his pistol with the heading, "America."

When Donald Trump got his turn in the town hall he was asked about the Pope's criticism of his proposal to build a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. Trump says Pope Francis is a wonderful guy and defended his plan for a border wall.

Republican candidates are fighting for position ahead of Saturday's GOP presidential primary in South Carolina. 

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