What Do the GOP Candidates Have To Say About Poverty in America?

Six Republican presidential candidates met in Columbia, S.C. on Saturday to discuss an issue more closely associated with the party of F.D.R. and L.B.J. — poverty. The forum was moderated by Sen. Tim Scott and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has sought to make combatting poverty a priority for his party. Noticeably absent from the conversation were the Republican frontrunners Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

With divisive issues like immigration and terrorism dominating the Republican debates this election season — and with Donald Trump often setting the tone — the conversation at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity was remarkably civil. The candidates conversed at length in small groups, often echoing each other’s calls to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit, move anti-poverty programs from the federal government to the states, and incentivize work and marriage.

Several candidates stressed their own humble upbringings, including Marco Rubio, the son of a bartender and a maid, and Ben Carson, from a poor neighborhood in inner-city Detroit, perhaps as a way to connect with low-income voters.

“Some people hate rats, some hate roaches, I hated poverty,” Carson said.

For more on the Republican candidates’ ideas and proposals for combating poverty, our host Hari Sreenivasan interviewed conservative commentator Reihan Salam, executive editor of National Review: