Last night the nation saw our top 10 Republican candidates duke it out for their party’s nomination. All I have to say is “Well, that was fun!”. If you’re like me you were probably exhausted after the first hour of watching the candidates tear into each other. To be fair, the moderators didn’t do a great job at keeping the questions focused on the real issues (tax policy, immigration, the economy etc.). Instead, it seemed like they just wanted to watch a blood bath! And that’s obviously an exaggeration, but never the less, the debate was more entertaining than it was informative. At least, that is my Democratic opinion. Yes, I do consider myself a liberal and if that keeps you from reading on, I do understand.
However, unlike many others, I do listen and pay attention to what the other side has to say about important issues. So let me be very clear: I’m not here to slam the Republican candidates. In fact it’s quite the opposite. One of my strengths is that I can form opinions for myself. Shocking, right? And that strength allows me to watch a debate (whether it’s Republican or Democratic) and remain neutral until I’ve heard everything that has to be said. It sounds simple enough, but politics has a way of blinding even the most open minded individuals. Before you question my sources, please understand that what follows is mainly my observations and opinions from last night’s debate. Enough chitchat! You’re here because you want to know the million dollar question: Who won the Republican Debate?
Like so many debates (and especially one of this size), there’s rarely one clear winner. And this debate is no different. However there is a line between the winners and losers of last nights debate and I’m going to do my best to draw that line for you. First we’ll talk about the losers.
I don’t think this is surprising to anyone, but I’ve been wrong before. Jeb’s poll numbers have been slowly deteriorating over the last two months (according to RealClearPolitics) and unfortunately it seems like it’s got the best of him. Early in the debate, Jeb confronted (or should I say attacked?) Rubio about missing votes due to his arduous campaigning. A point that Rubio turned around expertly and won the crowd (and myself) over. I’m sorry Jeb, but if attacking other candidates is your best strategy, maybe you shouldn’t be President.
I personally thought Carly won the last debate although she didn’t get much time to talk. Unfortunately, Ms. Fiorina was unable to keep that momentum and has stayed in the single digits in the polls. This debate was her opportunity to once again shine and stand out among the candidates, but she didn’t really get a chance. Due to the moderating, Carly was stuck trying to justify her past at Hewlett-Packard as opposed to talking about the future and the real issues! Who finds these moderators, seriously?! I was looking forward to hearing from Carly, but after the hole the moderators dug for her, she struggled to climb out.
I should say before I continue that I respect all of these candidates (something I’m sure I’ll mention later), but the fact is: There are way too many people running! That being said, Mike Huckabee hasn’t seen double digits in the polls since the beginning of his campaign (RealClearPolitics). I don’t form my opinions based solely on polls, but I do look at them to see who the American people are leaning towards. And while Huckabee has managed to make it on the stage once again, I admit that I wasn’t expecting much from his corner. He was able to talk about the significance of social security, which is great, but the moderators didn’t give him a chance to explain how exactly a Huckabee Presidency would be any different from the other candidates running. Once again the moderators win. That doesn’t seem right!
I honestly do like Rand Paul. I may not agree with his policies or his politics for that matter, but he seems to have the best intentions for this country and I respect that. Last night Paul got hardly any time to speak about his platform. Once again, this wasn’t his fault, but the moderators seemed to have their own agenda as far as the debate was concerned. At one point last night, Paul even recognized the fact that his attempt to follow up on another candidate’s comments was completely denied by the moderators. So much for the debate part of the debate! After some pushing and shoving he was able to get 30 seconds in about how his tax plan would essentially cut the payroll tax. It seemed pretty disrespectful to me that the moderators would treat any candidate like this. Unfortunately, I don’t think his time on screen did much to convince the American people that he is the man for the job.
While there are clear winners and losers in all debates, with a debate this size there are bound to be some candidates that don’t leave a clear positive or negative impact. In other debates that might be a bad thing, but in this one, it’s honestly the best case scenario for most of the candidates on the stage. Here are the candidates that neither won nor lost last night’s debate:
Christie had a decent night, but once again, his message didn’t quite stand out from his competitors. He didn’t get much screen time, like many of his fellow candidates, but when he did speak, he spoke with conviction and passion. Don’t get me wrong, he improved immensely from his last appearance, but it just isn’t enough to get his struggling campaign off the ground. His “big” moment last night (one could argue) is when he criticized the moderators for bringing up Fantasy Football, when there are so many other pressing issues our country is facing. The crowd seemed to enjoy his viewpoint on the relevance of fantasy sports, but what about his stance on other issues. Unlike the majority of his party, Christie does believe in global warming and tackling it head on with a National Energy Plan. A commendable cause, but not one other candidate even mentions energy. Why isn’t this issue being talked about more?
This may be a shock to many of you, but I’m just being honest with myself and my observations. Carson looks like a nice enough guy (even if he has said some unorthodox things), and up until this point that has been working very well for him. VERY well. But the fact is, he isn’t a great debater and not a great public speaker either. That is my observation. When moderators pressed him on the issue of debt and how his tax policy fell short, he stumbled over his words and wasn’t straight forward with his answers. It doesn’t instill very much confidence in me (as a voter) that he really does have a solid tax plan. And that may be why he is once again 2nd in the polls.
I think Kasich has potential. His track record speaks for itself: he cut taxes and created jobs as Governor of Ohio. The thing is, many of the people on the stage with him have cut taxes and created jobs at some point in their career so that doesn’t really set him apart. What sets him apart in my mind is the fact that Kasich directly influenced the balancing of the federal budget. And while I or you may not agree on how that was accomplished, it is still quite a feat and something this country desperately needs. I think the problem with Kasich’s campaign is that he does dwell on his past accomplishments and (while they are impressive) the American people want to know what his specific plans are.
Ted Cruz got a lot of screen time yesterday and that’s definitely a good thing for his campaign. It’s not exactly a close race, but at least he’s in the top 5. I won’t talk about his answers (because they’re similar if not the same across the board) so much as the way he delivers them. I consider Cruz to be a good public speaker, which is a plus for him, because when he talks I feel compelled to listen. That is a good quality for a president to have, regardless if you agree with what they are saying. According to Zingnal Labs, Ted Cruz was mentioned in over 100,000 tweets during the debate which is more than any of the other candidates can claim (including Donald Trump). Say what you will, but that is quite impressive by itself.
It seems as though Jeb Bush’s early attack was the best thing for Rubio. After pointing out the double standards placed on candidates by the media, Rubio made it clear that any attempt to hinder him wouldn’t be taken lightly. Later in the debate, moderators brought up his past again and asked if he was ready and able to oversee a $17 trillion economy. Rubio responded with the struggles he has overcome and confirmed that yes indeed he is capable and proceeded to outline his “family” tax plan. I like Rubio’s response because I think many people (myself included) can relate to him. We all have struggles and loans and yes, it’s a difficult time for the economy, but he worked hard and came out on top. It’s an inspirational story and if the next president is anything, inspirational should be one of his or her qualities.
We honestly didn’t hear much from Donald Trump last night compared to his previous appearances. And I don’t think this was by accident. Of course, everyone get’s their time to talk about their ideas, but we saw far less outbursts from the front runner than I think we expected. I think this strategy works for him because his name recognition is honestly enough at this point. And while his theatrics have proved effective (for whatever reason) I don’t think he or his campaign want to take any more risks.
Like I said in my opening, this debate was more entertaining than informational. I don’t blame or judge any of the candidates for doing what they think is right to win the nomination, but I encourage you as a voter to check out the websites of the candidates you’re leaning towards and educate yourself! Every 4 years someone says it and every 4 years it’s true: This is them most important election of our time…
I just want to reiterate that I’m not writing this to bash any of the Republican candidates. I have tremendous respect for these people who have stepped up and want to lead this country. We all know that being President is a difficult job and this is a difficult time in our country. I hope that whichever Republican recieves the nomination is well suited and ready for the potential responsibility to lead this country. Let me know what you think!
Watch the full debate HERE