Another debate is in the books and this one was easily the worst one yet, by far. This wasn’t a debate, it was nothing more than a 2+ hour Republican presidential campaign ad sponsored by Fox Business. Moderators didn’t control the candidates, challenge their lies or even require that the questions asked were actually answered. Furthermore, even at 8 candidates, there were still far too many people on one stage.
The feeling I always walk away with after watching these things is that I just watched presidential candidates who spent 2+ hours pandering to far-right blogs. These folks don’t have serious ideas to address the issues facing this country. They’re just clowns hoping to stand out on an overly crowded stage, competing with one another to win the hearts of minds of people who believe Jade Helm was a plot by the Obama administration to confiscate guns or a red coffee cup signifies that Christians are under attack.
While every candidate needs to seize every moment they’re given to stand out, no candidate had more on the line tonight than Jeb Bush. If his campaign was going to have even the slightest chance at hoping for an unlikely comeback, he had to make a huge statement tonight. He didn’t do that. The bottom line is, Bush isn’t a good candidate. He comes off weak, unsure of himself and desperate. I really can’t see anything he could possibly do that could save his campaign at this point.
Donald Trump… was Trump. He got exposed a couple of times when John Kasich ripped into him on immigration and Rand Paul pointed out that – after Trump had gone on a 2-3 minute anti-China rant concerning the TPP – China isn’t even a part of the deal. Donald Trump is nothing more than a live action Drudge or Breitbart headline. It’s an absolute joke people take him seriously.
Ben Carson, I really don’t know. To this day I still don’t get why anyone supports this guy. A good chunk of the middle of this debate centered around the Middle East and national security and Carson never once tried to speak up – the only candidate who didn’t. While his supporters will certainly make excuses for him, I personally think it’s because he knows that if he tries to speak out on these complex issues, his ignorance about them is going to be exposed. He seems to be employing the tactic of sit back, be quiet and hope nobody notices.
Paul, to his credit, came in with his strongest showing thus far. Unfortunately for him, that’s not really saying a whole lot. While he might get a small bump, it won’t be anything that’s going to suddenly make him a legitimate contender for the GOP nomination.
Carly Fiorina was exactly who she’s been in the first three debates. Well spoken, confident but hollow. She had a couple of strong moments, but I think conservatives are tiring of her in general. I would look for her to stay around 3-4 percent in the polls; if she does get a bump, it won’t be back to the levels she was at just a few weeks back.
Marco Rubio was solid, but he also didn’t really do anything to stand out. He faltered fairly badly when Paul pushed him on being a “true conservative” after he defended his desire to provide a tax credit so families can deduct child care expenses. He seems to do well when he’s allowed to speak unchallenged, but struggles whenever he faces a pushback from an opponent. That doesn’t bode well for someone who wants to face either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the general election.
John Kasich did his best to interject some semblance of reality and sanity to this “debate,” but it was ultimately pointless. Conservative voters don’t want to be told the truth, they simply want to be told what they want to hear. While it’s highly unlikely that I would ever vote for him, Kasich is the only one of these candidates who seems to basing any of his policy issues on actual reality rather than right-wing fan fiction.
If there was a “loser” to this debate I would say it was Ted Cruz. After gaining a good chunk of momentum from the third debate, he was mostly absent during this one. Instead of establishing himself as that “third candidate,” he didn’t say or do anything that I think would push him ahead of Rubio. Then again, with Cruz, it’s always the same thing. If you’ve heard one Ted Cruz speech, you’ve heard them all. All he does is repeat right-wing talking points over and over, while almost nothing he says is actually true.
But when it’s all said and done, the fourth Republican “debate” was mostly a joke. The moderators rarely pressed any of the candidates on the nonsense they were spewing. Even when one of the candidates refused to answer the question asked (which was often), rarely did they get called out on it. While I wouldn’t say the “debate” was out of control, it was clear the moderators sat back and let the candidates say and do whatever they wanted. As I said earlier, this wasn’t a debate – it was a 2+ hour Republican presidential campaign ad sponsored by Fox Business.
The truth is, these GOP debates do nothing more than remind me why I’m not a Republican. It’s still hard for me to believe that there are tens of millions of people who take these folks seriously. From Donald Trump acting like a 14-year-old bully, to the pyramid-denier Ben Carson, it’s shocking to see just how far the GOP has devolved from the days of the last great Republicans: Eisenhower, Roosevelt and Lincoln.
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