The First Republican Debate Was a Mess and the GOP Should be Embarrassed

trump-bigmouthFinally the night we’ve all been waiting for came and went, the first GOP presidential debate. Personally I had been waiting anxiously for this night for months. Not because I cared about what “great ideas” these candidates would present during the debate (because I knew there would likely be none) but because of the absolute circus I knew the whole event would be.

When Donald Trump is in the “number one” position, because he’s the current (and overwhelming) GOP frontrunner, that pretty much says all that needs to be said about what a joke the Republican party has become.

And the debate did not disappoint, though I will say it was slightly more tame than I thought it would be. Still, there were several exchanges (the Chris Christie/Rand Paul one was epic) where things got fairly heated.

Basically it was what you would expect – a lot of the same empty talking points we’ve all heard uttered repeatedly by Republicans throughout the years:

  • Obama is bad.
  • The Iran deal is horrible.
  • Hillary Clinton is going to destroy the nation.
  • Tax cuts and deregulation will build the economy.
  • Repeal Obamacare.
  • Tough talk about ISIS – with no solutions offered.
  • Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded.

As far as Trump goes – he did not disappoint. While I would never vote for the man, it’s undeniable that he’s highly entertaining. And while he was booed several times, in particular when he said he wouldn’t rule out running as an independent, he still knows how to play to a crowd. Either way, I am curious how his numbers will do after this debate as he really didn’t have that “it” moment I had expected from him.

As for Jeb Bush, the more he spoke, the more he came off looking like his brother. For the presumed GOP favorite for the nomination, he sure as heck didn’t stand out with any big positives or key moments. At least not in my opinion.

Scott Walker? For someone who’s supposedly one of the favorites, he’s really going to have to step up his game. Even thinking now, I can’t name one point where he really stuck out. I still just don’t get how he’s seen as a “favorite.”

However, one of the lines of the night for me came from Ted Cruz when he declared, “I will always tell the truth.”


Facts show that he is literally one of the most dishonest politicians in this country. He’s so ridiculous that he seems unable to be honest about much of anything.

Then there was Rand Paul who seemed desperate to appear relevant by trying to appear to be aggressive and outspoken – but mostly came off looking like a weakling massively overcompensating for a campaign in free fall. Even in his exchange with Christie he just came off looking like a radical trying to shout over someone who clearly got the better of him.

Then there was Ben Carson who really didn’t say or do anything of any importance.

When it comes to Christie, outside of putting Paul in his place during their exchange, he really didn’t have any key moments that would leave a lasting impression.

Then there was Mike Huckabee. While he said a few really idiotic things, my favorite part came when he complained about our military’s dwindling stock of B-52 bombers – a plane that hasn’t been made by Boeing since 1962. Somehow he tried to claim that’s President Obama’s fault.

To be honest, the two who came off looking most impressive were Marco Rubio and John Kasich. While I don’t agree with Rubio, he came off looking competent, strong and prepared. He looked much more like a frontrunner than any of the other candidates, including Trump.

As for Kasich, he brought the most surprising moments of the night. He’s clearly a Republican, but he seemed to the most genuine of any of the candidates on stage. He also provided the most shocking moment of the night when he spoke positively about gay rights, how he attended a gay friend’s wedding and how we should just accept people for who they are – and the audience responded overwhelmingly positively. I was stunned. It was easily the most pro-gay response I’ve seen from a Republican politician and a conservative audience. Granted, he’s the governor of Ohio and the debate was being held in Ohio so he had a home field advantage, but it’s a sharp contrast to just a few years back when a Republican presidential debate featured an audience which booed a gay United States soldier.

Earlier in the afternoon there was the “first debate” which Fox News held for the second-tier candidates which was just – sad. Aside from Rick Perry looking proud that he actually managed to finish a sentence every time he spoke, there wasn’t a whole lot that happened. Some say Carly Fiorina came off looking incredibly strong. Well, she looked prepared, but offered no substance. Either way, I’m not sure “being the best candidate” on a stage with Perry, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore and Bobby Jindal is really that big of an accomplishment.

Speaking of Jindal – his campaign was destroyed by the Fox News moderators before he could ever speak. It’s not good when, before you even get a chance to speak, the hosts of the event point out your terrible approval numbers and the fact you’re trailing Hillary Clinton in your own state.

If this first debate was any indication of what the next 12-15 months is going to be like, all I can say is – wow. We have a government education grant program called “Race to the Top,” well the GOP presidential primary seems to be a “Race to the Bottom.” The fight for the Republican nomination really does seem to be a battle to see who can pander to ignorance and bigotry the best. Outside of Kasich, every other candidate was filled with more of the same anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-helping the poor rhetoric to which we’ve all become accustomed from the GOP.

Because that’s what we saw tonight. Ten candidates, standing on a stage pandering to some of the worst parts of our society.

My final thoughts on the whole ordeal: It’s an embarrassment that after all this time, and with years to prepare, these are the “best” candidates the Republican party can offer.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Eg Kbbs

    How was it even a “debate” when each candidate got questions tailored to them ? At best, this was each candidate getting a 10 minute interview (2 hours = 120 minutes minus a few minutes for overhead. Divide time by 10 candidates.

    More like speed dating than debate.

    • Flat Banana

      They had questions asked of them that targeted their weaknesses or areas where they gaffed. If you watched you would’ve seen the question asked to Dr. Carson about foreign policy, his answer sums up that he really is an amateur in that category.

      • Gary Menten

        They are all amateurs in that category.

  • Sieben Stern

    Kasich did have the best moment and for me second best was what i thought was Yeb standing up for Common Core and high standards in education.

    the rest was FUCKING TERRIFYING. bunch of know nothing war mongers, the lot of them!!!

    • Jodi Wibbels

      Agreed. I was surprised to hear comments democrats could support coming from republicans.

    • OMGface

      Except Kasich misrepresented most things in his delineation of his accomplishments. Fact checkers affirm this in detail.

      And re effing terrifying…..that’s an understatement, OMG, but that terror arrived within me long ago.

      Remember, only an intelligent, emotionally healthy, educated electorate equipped to chase and evaluate everything accurately can preclude the sickest, most dangerous chickens stealing our chicken coop.

    • strayaway

      Rand Paul’s a “warmonger”? Rand makes Hillary look like Attila the Hun. Last night, he suggested that the US stop inadvertently supplying IS with military equipment. While I’m at it, Rand won his exchange with Christie. Christie exhibited a contempt and disavowal of the Fourth Amendment. Apparently and surprisingly, supporting the Fourth Amendment is seen by Mr. Clifton as being “radical”.

      Obama is bad, so was W.Bush, but how will we ever learn that the Iran agreement is “horrible” if not even members of Congress are allowed to read it? Hillary can’t “ruin the nation”, at least by herself, since Bush and Obama have already made such progress accomplishing the same.

      • Krista Workman

        Rand paul rolling his beady little eyes within the white ring around them from the tanning bed glasses underneath his gelled, just for men colored curls, certainly did NOT get the best of Christie.

      • strayaway

        Even most progressives would feign being interested in issues such as privacy rather than your evaluation of a bed partner to determine who won a debate. The issue at hand, for most of us, is Paul’s interest is observing the Bill of Rights vs. Christi’s preference for police state power. Don’t feel alone in your contempt for the 4th. Amendment. Mice Dice just posted a clip,
        “These Hillary Supporters Want Her to Repeal the Bill of Rights if She’s Elected President” on YouTube.

      • Krista Workman

        Wtf are you talking about? I was talking about his immaturity and lack of leadership abilities. There were verbs in there as well as adjectives. Asshole

      • strayaway

        Everyone can see what you wrote. It lacked any suggestion of maturity. It had nothing to do with policy. It was an attack based on looks. I don’t care for Hillary but I don’t attack her for her looks. She offers plenty of policy targets. You should grow up and do the same. If you don’t like Rand’s support for the 4th Amendment and prefer Christie’s authoritarianism, just say so. That was what they were arguing about.

      • Krista Workman

        Well ahthankyou for your advice. Here’s mine…..stfu

      • strayaway

        Krista, Your posts suggest that your upbringing wasn’t the best.

      • Avery

        That’s a bit hypocritical.

  • NotThatGreg

    Cruz tells the truth, not the *actual* truth, but the “truth” in the religious sense where he decides what you need to hear in order to come to the proper conclusion that he would like, and that’s the “truth”.

  • Flat Banana

    I can’t wait until OCTOBER for the dems to finally come out. I came here expected bias and that’s what I see. I think Fox actually did better than expected with some of the questions.

    • OMGface

      I agree! The only normal, heartening element!

  • MacDoodle

    So do you people really think Hillary has a chance?The next president will not be a democrat and the republicans will still control Congress.It is time to fix this mess that Obama has created.

    • Aaron Levesque

      Hahahaha. The next president will almost certainly be a Democrat.

    • Jim Valley

      You are in for a BIG disappointment. There will never be another republican president, and certainly not in 2016.

      270 – 242 = 28

    • geez

      Isn’t that what you told yourself the last two times? Unless the republicans come up with some solid answers to what they will actually DO instead of just bashing everything: Obama, Hillary and each other, they are going to lose.

    • FD Brian

      what is the mess you’re talking about?

      • OMGface

        Outstanding rhetorical question…..of course, wasted on the loser MacDoodle simpleton, but good for others here to celebrate.

    • strayaway

      Goldman Sachs is betting on Hillary. That’s always a sign of success.

    • dlion

      hahahahahah obama created? OMG, all the Georgie baby problems were not only inherited by Obama, but the whole population of American Taxpayers. macdoodle your brain must be macaroni

      • OMGface

        Not even macaroni, generic, undifferentiated MUSH. Nothing more costly and toxic than ignorance and those held hostage by it.

    • The Devo

      You sir , are a moron.

      • OMGface

        And that’s being kind.

      • Well Mr. Devo it’s been fun but Infowars finally banned me.

      • The Devo

        The facts you were always posting finally got to them! It’s sad just sad. I enjoyed reading your comments for years Brink of sanity! I hope to see you again my friend, possibly on another boards comment section. Screw infotards.

    • noah vail

      is this the same mess he inherited from President Cheney and his puppet and he’s been trying to clean up since taking office with absolutely no assistance from the racist congress he also inherited

  • cman32

    They have no shame

    • OMGface

      Even worse, no awareness at all re the dogmatic, doctrinaire,
      simplistic garbage they are blind slaves to and how all of it abrogates everything
      normal. It truly is head exploding to
      have to experience.

  • OMGface

    It wasn’t a mess, it was, as was inevitable, an unobfuscated reflection of the new normal on the right. Head exploding? Yes. But the reality emerges over time, it’s part of the natural world.

    Poor Mr. Trump emerged as the low IQ, blowhard, ignoble, repulsive, dilettante
    coward/bully he’s Always been and always will be.

    That discussions continue re how to deal with him…..most depressing part of
    all, given this reflects the most clueless and cowardly contingency in politics.
    He’s a fragile helium balloon; anyone with half a brain could deal with him

    Anyone so damaged as to relish Mr. Trump’s infantile defenses against his own deficiencies must share those deficiencies. And those people are not worth even thinking about.

    • Krista Workman

      I do wish we had a choice of democrats with the same immigration thoughts though. Unless you actually seek information on the subject, all you will know is the baloney you hear on the news. Biggest issue our nation faces.

      • OMGface

        I disagree re it’s the biggest issue we face. First comes the near death of the middle class, wealth disparity being HIGHER even than it was during the Great Depression, the ongoing disaster of The NAFTA, the nuclear need for single payer health care, CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM (OMG), etc.

      • Krista Workman

        All of those things are related to the increase of illegals.

      • OMGface

        Very important to chase and own ALL the data and see all of it in accurate perspective. Single issue, tunnel visioned voters are part of The Problem.

      • Krista Workman

        So you know alot of illegals?

      • OMGface


      • OMGface

        I know about everything which interests me and compels me to delve….and that comprises more things that you could ever imagine.

      • Krista Workman

        My opinion comes from personal knowledge along with massive studying of the subject. My city is on the I5 corridor and our exgovernor passed a law allowing drivers cards for illegals. All They needed was a note saying they had lived here x amount of time.

        They came from all over. The drug cartels set up shop in all the cities along the highway. Human trafficking, illegal immigration, you name it. Luckily, the citizens of this great state (myself included) collected signatures and put it on the ballot where it was overwhelmingly defeated. Do you think they all went on back to Mexico?

        What happened was a dramatic increase in crime, public assistance, overwhelming of the free and reduced lunch programs at schools, etc. Overcrowding of jails. It almost bankrupted one school district.

      • OMGface

        He is all about fueling the supply of dirt cheap labor and feeding the greed of businesses….forget, also jobs no American would settle for.

        One more once: see all of it and then….IN PERSPECTIVE.

  • dancinbarefoot

    I thought it was an excellent debate and we have some awesome candidates on the right!! Too bad you got nothing but a bunch of old crusty progressive has-beens…