Trump and Cruz battle it out while Sanders surges in Iowa plus more in the wild week in the 2016 election

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Highlights from the Republican Debate

The 2016 U.S. presidential race can be difficult to keep up with. As important primaries and caucuses swiftly approach there is a lot to follow -- but we've got you covered with an easy recap of the buzz-worthy stories people were talking about and the more meaningful moments you might have missed.

SEE MORE: COMPLETE 2016 ELECTION COVERAGE FROM AOL.com

We saw a rising establishment GOP figure blast Donald Trump, continued talk about Ted Cruz's eligibility to be president, political Twitter wars, and yet another heated Republican primary debate. We've compiled a list of the stories that everyone is talking about as well as the stories that matter the most to help you navigate the 2016 election. See what you may have missed below.

What everyone's talking about:
  1. Debates over two Republican presidential candidates' eligibility to serve as president heightened this week. Multiple legal experts wrote about the issue, claiming Ted Cruz is "not a natural-born citizen" because he was born in Canada, and thus ineligible to be president. Marco Rubio was also hit with a "birther" controversy through the week as his lawyers fight claims that say he's not eligible because his parents' U.S. citizenship.​​
  2. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley took a shot a GOP hopefully Donald Trump during the Republican response to Pres. Obama's State of the Union address on Thursday. During her address she warned Americans to not follow "the angriest voices," later confirming that Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump is one of the angry voices she was referring to.
  3. White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough announced on Sunday that Obama will not endorse a Democratic candidate during the primary. Though, McDonough did acknowledged that the president had privately met with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton several times.
  4. The Republican presidential candidates participated in a debate on Fox Business Channel on Thursday night. During the debate, Jeb Bush kept up his attacks on Trump and Trump proved he and Ted Cruz are not big fans as each other as they sparred intensely, even drawing boos from the crowd at one point. Relive all the most dramatic moments here.
  5. While the Republican candidates battled it out on the center stage this week, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exchanged exchanged a number of Twitter blows throughout the week. See the jabs that two Democratic candidates took at each other over the internet here.

What you might have missed:
  1. Hillary Clinton may have thought the road to the Democratic nomination would be easy, but new polls show that she will have to fight for the nomination. A new key poll shows Bernie Sanders now leads Hillary Clinton 49 percent to 44 percent among likely Democratic participants in next month's Iowa caucuses.
  2. The New York Times reports that Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg​ commissioned a poll to see how he would fare as a third-party candidate against front-runners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Bloomberg declined to reveal the polls findings to CNN but said Bloomberg's motivation to conduct the poll stemmed from Trump's rising popularity.
  3. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton revealed 4 percent tax proposal on the wealthiest taxpayers in America. A Clinton campaign aide, says the "surcharge" on the wealthiest 0.02 percent would generate $150 billion over the next decade. This proposal comes as Clinton's chief rival, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who has made reducing income inequality a main theme of his campaign, surpassed her in Iowa polls.
  4. Early this week, Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley was at risk of being disqualified from the next Democratic presidential debate when NBC announced the criteria requiring a candidate to have an average of 5 percent either in recent polls. On Thursday the network announced that O'Malley has been polling at about 5 percent in Iowa does qualify to participate in the debate.
  5. At least four top staffers have left the Carson campaign since the end of last year. This week the troubled campaign loss finance chairman Dean Parker when he submitted his resignation on Thursday. The Carson campaign which was once challenging Donald Trump for front-runner status saw a dip in the polls at the end of 2015 as many of his top staff departed.



What's next:
Join us on Saturday, January 17 as we cover the Democratic Primary debate on NBC at 8 p.m. ET. We'll have all the coverage you need right here on AOL.com.

Follow the 2016 presidential election timeline here.
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