The first Republican presidential primary debate, which attracted a record number of viewers with over 24 million people watching, were hosted by Fox News and Facebook in conjunction with the Ohio Republican Party and were held at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Aug. 6. The debate featured the top ten republican presidential candidates determined by the average of five national polls. In order of their rankings, top to bottom, the candidates were introduced as follows: business man Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christy, and Ohio Governor Todd Kasich.
The focus of the debate was centered around which candidate would be able to beat Hillary Clinton, who was said to very likely be the Democratic candidate, in the 2016 presidential race. Notably, Hillary was not sitting at home watching the debate, rather she was at a fundraiser in Los Angeles were she posed in a selfie with her supporters Kim and Kanye.
At the beginning of the GOP debate all of the candidates were asked to raise their hand if they were unwilling to take a pledge to support whoever becomes the Republican candidate and not run as an independent against them with only Trump saying that he would not make such a pledge. Throughout the debate attention was called to Trumps past liberal leanings, previous pro-choice stance, and the donations he has made to democrats including Hillary Clinton. Trump said that he made such donations in order to secure favors with politicians, citing that he got Hillary to attend his wedding, and emphasized that he had donated to most of the people with whom he shared the stage. Trump did not shy away from admitting to what some would call shady strategies stating that his corporations declaring bankruptcy four times were instances of him using the law to his advantage. Given his liberal history Trump was asked when he became a Republican which was a question that he did not answer directly. Rather he said that he hails from liberal NYC and has “evolved” and he told a story of friends who almost had an abortion but did not and now have a “superstar” child. Trump consistently came across as somewhat of an ass hole, making snide remarks against his opponents and the moderators and saying that the U.S. has many “stupid leaders”. He stated that criticism against him were generally about his “tone” and shot such criticisms down saying “what I say is what I say” and that he doesn’t have time for tone or political correctness. I don’t know about you but I expect the individual holding our country’s highest political office to be at least somewhat concerned with being politically correct.
The topics given the most coverage during the debate were abortion, illegal immigration, monetary policy, the Iran deal, and Isis. Many of the candidates espoused their pro-life agenda with Rubio stating that unborn children should be protected by the Constitution. Many candidates also claimed there is a need for reduced federal regulation and federal infringement on state rights with Huckabee stating that there exists a “Wall Street to Washington axis of power” with the result of over-reaching federal regulations and Bush stating that the federal government should not be involved in setting education standards. There were also many references to reforming the tax code with Huckabee advocating for a consumption tax and Rubio and Walker stating that the tax rate should be lowered, especially for small and mid-sized businesses.
I was disappointed that the topic of prison reform did not arise. The Black Lives Matter campaign was touched upon briefly with Governor Walker generically and briefly saying that ongoing training of police is important. Governor Kasich fielded a question about gay marriage giving deference to the Supreme Court decision and saying that he would still love his daughters the same if they were gay and that he “loves and accepts” those who “think differently” from him.
I would say that aside from Trump, most of the candidates gave a good performance and was impressed with their credentials. ABC News reports the “winners” as Trump, Christy, Paul, Kasich, Rubio (as well as Hillary Clinton) and also cites Trump as the only “loser” with Carson and Bush in the “split” category. The Washington Post also named Trump a “winner” along with Rubio, Kasich’s first hour, and Carson’s second hour as well as Carly Fiorina who did not make the top ten and was featured in the pre-debate forum. Paul and Walker were named the “losers” by the Washington Post. The debate was intriguing and I recommend that voters take the time to watch it themselves to determine their own winners and losers.
The next Republican debate will be hosted by CNN and is scheduled for September 16, in Simi Valley, CA. CNN will also host the first Democratic debate which is scheduled for October 13, in Nevada.
You can watch the August 6th, Fox and Facebook first GOP debate here.