The second Republican presidential debate was very much what I believe most of us figured it would be: an embarrassment to our political process. It’s absurd that there are this many people vying for the GOP presidential nomination. With that many candidates on one stage it’s nearly impossible to conduct these debates with any semblance of sanity.
Well, tonight was the circus I fully expected it to be.
To be honest, I’m not even sure how to describe the chaos I just witnessed tonight. I’m not even sure why Jack Tapper bothered asking questions because almost none of them actually received an answer. Most of it wasn’t his fault, he tried to keep order – these candidates just weren’t listening. It was clear from the start that they were more interested in one-upping one another to stand out amongst the crowd.
So I guess I’ll just offer my takeaways from this sideshow.
First, Donald Trump got exposed some. While I don’t think he’ll take a huge hit, I do expect his numbers to take a bit of a dip. For the first time he looked flustered and defensive. Not only that, but he basically came out as someone who believes vaccines cause autism. He just looked “off” all evening. I would say that I expect him to come out far more aggressive the next debate, but nothing is a sure bet when it comes to Donald Trump.
On the other hand, Jeb Bush seemed far more prepared. In fact, he was doing fairly well – until he decided to declare that his brother, George W. Bush, made the United States safer. As I’ve said plenty of times before, he’s definitely a Bush.
John Kasich, while still clearly a Republican, continues to be the only candidate who at least seems rational on issues like Medicaid expansion, same-sex marriage and the Iran deal. While it’s highly unlikely I would ever vote for him, it’s a shame he’s not being taken more seriously as a candidate.
The two other “outsiders,” Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson, both maintained what they built from their first debates. I still don’t get Carson’s appeal. While he’s undoubtedly very intelligent, he’s just completely unqualified to be president. As for Fiorina, she’s well-spoken, I’ll give her that. She’s probably the most debate-prepared of any of these candidates. But as I listen to what she says, there’s absolutely no substance to be found. You can tell all night she’s just regurgitating talking points that she clearly prepared beforehand.
As for Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee – there was nothing new. If you’ve heard these five give any sort of speech, then you’ve pretty much heard everything they said this evening.
Then there’s Marco Rubio, the guy who might be the “sleeper” of this group. His rhetoric about climate change was completely asinine; his “logic” as to why we shouldn’t do anything to combat climate change is because we can’t reverse it on our own. In other words, since the United States can’t singlehandedly stop climate change, screw it – let’s just make it worse.
Personally, I think the big “winner” of the night (aside from every Democratic candidate) was Lindsey Graham, and he wasn’t even in the main debate. He was funny, well-prepared, came off strong and easily dominated the preliminary “kid’s table” debate, though I doubt he’ll see a huge bump in the polls from it.
To be honest, following tonight’s GOP presidential debate was exhausting. Trying to follow the absurd rhetoric between these 11 candidates is nearly impossible.
Essentially, tonight is best summarized like this:
Republicans: We oppose everything and have absolutely no new ideas of our own.