With the Republican primary in South Carolina a week away, tonight marked the last debate before Republican voters go to the polls to determine who they want to represent their party in this year’s election. Though tonight’s event was shaken up quite a bit following the announcement of Antonin Scalia’s sudden death. So I expected the Supreme Court to be focused on more than normal with the balance of power now up for grabs.
That being said, tonight’s debate was huge for most of the candidates on stage. Though what I was mainly looking out for was to see how Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush would perform – especially Rubio. Coming off a disastrous couple of weeks following his “big” third place finish in Iowa, tonight was largely make or break for the candidate who had quickly been anointed “the RNC favorite” to try to take out Trump.
As with all of the other GOP debates, this was another embarrassing circus filled with empty rhetoric, pre-rehearsed talking points and petty attacks. In fact, with fewer candidates on the stage, tonight was even more vile and personal than usual.
I’m sure the polls won’t reflect it, but Donald Trump had a tough night. He was constantly booed by the audience and I think Jeb Bush got the better of him on several exchanges. Politifact called him out on Twitter for repeating a lie about Bush’s Florida record, which he’s done now during most of these debates.
The thing with Trump is if you’ve seen one debate performance, you’ve seen them all. He says the same thing every single debate. It’s so incredibly obvious he doesn’t know what he’s talking about that it’s embarrassing millions of people are buying into this idiot. His entire shtick is built around applause points and talking points that sound like they make sense… but don’t. Not only that, but his temperament is ridiculous. Any time he’s pushed he snaps like a petulant child. This is not someone we want leading this country.
I thought Jeb Bush did very well. While I still think he’s an awful candidate, he held his own against Trump tonight. Though I still can’t help but look at him like he’s someone who’s trying entirely too hard to sound tough when he’s clearly not. While he’s polling better than he has the past, I still think it’s too late for him to be a real player in this campaign unless Marco Rubio completely implodes and Trump has a massive downfall.
Poor John Kasich. While I would never vote for him, if Republicans were smart, he would be the candidate they chose. Not only would he bring them Ohio, but he’s moderate enough where he could probably bring over some moderate Democrats and appeal to independents. He’s also the only candidate who seems to care more about talking about issues rather than engaging in pathetic, petty back and forth attacks like the other candidates. But the fact that he isn’t a loud blowhard, he’s rational about some issues and he would be the smart choice means he stands almost no chance at winning the nomination.
Ted Cruz is such a preprogrammed pandering machine that you really don’t get much different from him in each of these debates. He did seem to get visibly flustered when he was pushed a couple of times, in particular by Rubio about immigration reform. Though I think he did get the best of Rubio when the Florida senator accused him of not knowing Spanish – then he proceeded to speak Spanish. I think if you liked Cruz before tonight, you liked him after tonight. If you didn’t like him before tonight, you’re not likely going to be swayed over to his side by a performance like this. Especially seeing as how almost every other candidate on the stage was pointing out how often Cruz lies about basically… anything.
Marco Rubio did okay. Definitely better than the previous debate, but he still seems too pre-rehearsed. He went after Cruz hard on a few separate exchanges, but if he wants people to believe him on illegal immigration, he should probably stop lying about it himself. It’s not that he’s bad in these debates overall, he just doesn’t come off as authentic. Which I think is a problem considering he’s been tagged as the “repeater robot” and as a candidate who is too scripted. His saving grace is going to continue to be that, between him and Jeb, he’s still likely the candidate the voters looking for the “most electable” turn to during the primaries. Either way, that probably won’t be enough to overtake Trump.
Then there’s Ben Carson. Who cares? He had his fifteen minutes of fame a few months ago and got lost in the grain of the pyramids ever since. The only thing he’s running for right now is to be the next candidate to drop out of the race and move on to the speaker circuit as a conservative darling.
As for who won? I would say it’s a tie between Bush and Rubio. Not saying that they’ll overtake Trump, but I think of all the candidates they did the most to help themselves. Though this debate was so terrible I’m not sure how anyone can really be called a “winner.” It was basically just a bunch of screaming, accusations of lies, actual lies, petty pandering and shouting over one another. It really is incredible comparing this circle of hatred and lies to the substantive, mature debates Democrats have been having. It actually makes me legitimately sad for our country that millions upon millions of people are supporting these vile liars.
With Scalia’s death, this debate should be a stark reminder to everyone as to just how important 2016 is for this country. With another two to three justices potentially needing to be replaced within the next few years, the entire balance of power of the Supreme Court for the next 20-30 years could be in the hands of our next president.
Which is why I’ve said repeatedly, no matter who the Democratic nominee is, we must all support that person. This election is not the year we can let foolish pride, or the need to “prove a point,” get in the way of the bigger picture. With health care reform, women’s rights, gay rights, climate change and terrorism being huge issues facing this next president, we cannot allow that person to be one of these GOP clowns.
As I’ve said repeatedly, whether you’re in camp #ImWithHer or #FeelTheBern, once the nominee is selected, we must all become part of camp #VoteBlueNoMatterWho.