The republican debate aired last night on CNN. The debate set records for viewership on CNN with 23 million tuning in to hear what the candidates had to say. One of those 23 million viewers was me. I watched the whole debate from 6pm to 11:30pm. It was quite a show. The early debate offer just a preview of what was to come.
I only want to touch two of four candidates in the first debate. Lindsey Graham and George Pataki. I thought both men had a good debate. Pataki was the more of a surprise. The formerly disgraced governor of New York seem to come out strong. He was able to bounce back the attacks from the likes of Santorum and Jindal. Pataki was also more moderate in views and was able to soften the hard political rhetoric. I thought that he performed well. Lindsey Graham was thought to have won the first debate. I will say that Graham was able to use humor to his advantage, making many good one liners. He was also very aggressive pushing his hawkish foreign policy plan to put boots on the ground to fight ISIS. I felt like his push for boots on ground might not be as well received as many think. I feel the American is going to hesitate to send in troops without a good cause. However, all the candidates in both debates strongly push the idea that Obama’s foreign policy has made the US weaker. The American people are definitely weary of another war. The test for Graham will be to show that his plan would actually work and be worth the cost. Overall, the first debate was entertaining and interesting with only 4 candidates.
The second debate had a long list of candidates. A quick google search of the republic debate will give you winners, losers, and analysis of every candidate! I took the liberty of writing down some quick notes about what went on during the debate. In order to keep this blog post from becoming very long and boring, I want to just list the candidates names (not all of them) and then put a few short points about their performance in the debate. After this list, I want to highlight some themes and similarities across each candidate.
Donald Trump- Held strong despite personal attacks on his background and business failures, Was passive aggressive, calmer than the first debate, still wasn’t specific enough in his plans for immigration and leadership in foreign policy, would write off social security for himself.
Rand Paul- A few good rebuttals especially at Trump, Bush, Christie. Made some quietly good points, Wasn’t aggressive enough.
Carly Fiorina- Took on Trump, overcame personal attacks especially for business failures, articulated her views quite well.
Jeb Bush- Not aggressive enough, his family history was used against him in foreign policy, bashes Hillary Clinton about guns, admitted to smoking marijuana.
Chris Christie-Against marijuana legalization, bashes Hillary Clinton
Ben Carson- Went against Trump, not aggressive enough, didn’t make impact but also didn’t lose anything.
Marco Rubio- strong points on gun control: criminals ignore laws. Not aggressive enough.
Ted Cruz: Too quiet and not aggressive enough.
The overall themes of the debate were mainly on foreign policy, immigration, supreme court justices, economics and gun control. On foreign policy, almost all the candidates are for boots on the ground to stop ISIS. They all are against the Iran deal. They all want to stand up to Russia and Valdmir Putin. These ideals are all great for rhetoric but they are in reality much tougher. I’m skeptical that an American army intervention will stop ISIS. The Iran deal should be fine as long as we retain the ability to reapply sanctions. Standing up to Russia is a bit harder because Putin is not afraid to play hardball. Any candidate faces many problems around the world.
On the topic of immigration, the conversation centered on birthright citizenship and whether or not it should be repealed. This means changing the 14th amendment. If you aren’t familiar with process of repealing an amendment to the constitution his a brief rundown. First, the senate and house of representatives must both pass another amendment to repeal the 14th. Each house needs 2/3 vote. Then if it is passed the amendment goes to states. The state legislatures have pass the amendment. If 2/3 of the states vote for the amendment it passes. If not, then it goes back to congress. I personally feel repealing the 14th amendment has little chance to work. Neither will a wall as Trump wants. The immigration issue could remedied by an in and out system to keep track of who is here and who is not. Some of candidates endorse this. The problem with immigration will be the costs of it.
On the topic of economics and taxes, the strongest candidate was Rand Paul. He gave some very concrete numbers and logic on the way to fix the economy. The other candidates like Trump and Fiorina were just talk. They probably don’t have the understanding that some of the other career politicians have of government budgets. This is not to say that Trump or Fiorina can’t manage. However, most candidates in line with Rand agree that some kind of flat tax is the best. I think they are on the right track but its more than just taxes that need to be cut.
On the topic of supreme court justices, the conversation circled around the reappointment of Justice John Roberts Jr. The controversy among republicans is that he kept Obamacare as law and repeal marriage laws for gay marriage. I thought Obamacare should have repealed. However, gay marriage was a good call. I think that any justice will have a mixed bag of good and bad decisions. I think it was a moot point because new appointments always come up.
On the topic of gun control, the candidates disagreed on how to do gun control. Marco Rubio made a really good point on gun laws. He basically said that criminals ignore gun laws just like any other law. I believe that Rubio made an excellent point. Despite his otherwise weak performance, he is right that criminals ignore laws. I strongly support more background checks and mental health evaluations. I think that banning guns will not work because banning drugs hasn’t worked, people still use heroin and cocaine. So its purely logical.
My last takeaway from this debate is that President Barack Obama came out relatively untouched. The candidates were obviously skeptical of Obama’s moves as president. The person who was attacked the most by far was Hillary Clinton. Trump was also attacked a lot but he was able to deflect it. Hillary got slammed for her foreign policy, social issues and corruption. I can’t say I was surprised to hear her bashed so hard. Hillary hasn’t yet offered response except trolling Trump for slamming Jeb Bush for speaking Spanish.
This debate certain set some records in entertainment value. It has set up an interesting political fight for the republican nominee. I am looking forward to the democratic debate as I anticipate Trump and GOP bashing. I love debates and cannot wait for more to happen.
Thank you for reading! More on political fallout from the debate!