Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said Thursday during the Republican debate in Des Moines, Iowa, that while he might not have politics on his resume, he has a proven record of answering important calls in the middle of night. His remarks alluded to a situation Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton argued in 2008 campaign attack ads that challenger President Barack Obama would not be equipped to handle.

"I have had more 2 a.m. phone calls making life and death decisions," Carson said, referring to his career in medicine. Clinton's 2008 ad asked voters who they would want answering the phone in the White House. "It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep," the advertisement said. "But there’s a phone in the White House and it’s ringing. Something’s happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call." The advertisement, which ran in Texas, ended with Clinton answering the phone call. 

In the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, Carson made an appeal to voters that his history dealing with difficult situations in medicine has prepared him to be president. "I have put complex teams together to deal with complex problems," Carson said.


The primetime Fox News-Googledebate also featured Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Fox News anchors Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier moderated the debate.

Trump was invited to the debate, but opted to hold an event to raise money for wounded veterans instead. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization has said the group would not accept any donations from the event, reported the New York Times. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said they would attend the fundraiser after their appearance at the 7 p.m. EST undercard debate, where they were joined by Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. The four candidates did not make the cut for the primetime showdown due to their low standing in the polls.

The next Republican debate is scheduled for Feb. 6 in Manchester, New Hampshire.