With such a large field of GOP candidates, the debate season is much needed to beginning winnowing the group. It got a “soft launch” with a forum that included a huge swath of candidates, but excluded Donald Trump. The senators joined the forum remotely as they were set to vote on Rand Paul’s bill to defund Planned Parenthood. One candidate who was there in person, Lindsey Graham made the most memorable quote with his veiled threat of force against China:
“Here’s my foreign policy — a clenched fist and an open hand. You (China) choose.” – Lindsey Graham
Next up, on Thursday was the “B Team” Debate. Those candidates who didn’t make the top 10 debated at 5pm. It’s widely believed that Rick Perry and even more so Carly Fiorina were the big winners, and could break into the pack. Here’s a little snippet from Fiorina.
Then at 9pm was the main debate. The last man to make it on the stage, Ohio Governor John Kasich, may have been the biggest winner. What may be my most striking memory from the debate was his answer to a terrible question. Asked what he thinks of gay marriage and how would he feel if his own daughter was a lesbian he responded with grace.
“Look, I’m an old-fashioned person here and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said that the court has ruled … and I said we’ll accept it,
And guess what? I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or I can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.” – John Kasich
He concluding by saying he’d love his daughters no matter what just as God teaches us to love unconditionally. A horrible question handled gracefully stood out.
The big loser of the night was Chris Christie who said he would blame Rand Paul if a terrorist attack occurred because Rand filibustered the mass collection of US citizen’s phone records. Rand responded by saying he would continue to stand for the bill of rights. Christie then quickly became antagonistic, saying Rand Paul was blowing hot air while he (Christie) is “responsible for protecting the lives of Americans.”
The exchange heated up with Rand Paul telling Christie:
“I don’t trust president Obama with our phone records. I know you gave him (President Obama) a big huge and if you want to give him a big hug again go right ahead!” – Rand Paul
Christie then got into the mud saying he remembers hugs from 9/11 victims and that Rand Paul’s speeches are politically motivated. It was the most interesting back-and-forth of the night, and Christie left looking very small while being booed by the crowd.
Marco Rubio painted himself into a socially conservative corner with his response to a biased question. While you would never expect Hillary Clinton to be asked about her stance on partial birth abortion (she’s for it), Rubio was asked about abortion in the case of rape and incest. He made a strong stance against the practice, which may hurt him when the primary comes.
Marco Rubio just disputed Megyn Kelly’s assertion that he favors abortion rights in the case of rape. Most Republicans, however, say in poll after poll that abortion should be legal if a rape has been committed. In the 2014 General Social Survey, for example, 68 percent of Republicans said as much. – Harry Enten
Scott Walker called himself “aggressively average” which seems more like the positioning statement for someone running for postmaster general than the President of the United State of America.
Rand Paul did well with the limited time he had on the big stage with nine other candidates. He was the most eloquent on explaining the flaws of the Iran deal saying:
“I would never released the sanctions (on Iran) without consistent evidence of compliance.” – Rand Paul
He was also able to speak to specifics in that he proposed an actual budget that balances within five years.
Finally, Donald Trump was the biggest target throughout the night and was able to fend off attacks. Make no mistake, he wasn’t presidential, but somehow his blustery rude style can be likable or at minimum fun.