GOP presidential candidates meet for 5th debate

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LAS VEGAS — In a presidential race reshaped by national security fears, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio clashed Tuesday night over U.S. military intervention, government spying on Americans’ communications and immigration Tuesday night.

Front-runner Donald Trump defended his provocative call for banning Muslims from the United States, although he has been criticized for a policy over-reach.

Struggling former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush found his footing in trying to discredit Trump’s qualifications for the White House. At one point, Bush chiding the brash billionaire for trying to “insult your way to the presidency.”

Tuesday night’s debate was the first for Republicans since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, which heightened fears of terrorism in the United States. The attacks have ignited a political debate about President Barack Obama’s campaign to defeat the Islamic State in the Middle East and the nation’s security posture in preventing attacks in the U.S.

Trump’s call for temporarily banning Muslims from the U.S. — a proposal roundly criticized by his rivals — dominated much of the discussion heading into the debate. He said he wasn’t seeking to discriminate against Muslims.