Random thoughts on the Fox Business GOP debates

thoughts on the fox business undercard debate

Christie is easily winning so far. After Jindal attacked Huckabee for not cutting spending as governor, Christie responded by saying Hillary would be far worse as president than Huckabee and that we should be focusing our attacks on her.

He made Jindal look small and not presidential, while coming off as presidential himself for refusing to attack a fellow republican and putting the attention back on HIllary.
Jindal wanted to debate Christie on their records cause Jindal clearly has a more conservative record, but Christie just brushed him off and used his time to contrast his record to Hillary’s.

Eventually it became clear that Christie couldn’t defend his record in NJ, and that’s gonna be a problem for him if he stays in the race long enough. He might be able to get away with avoiding details against someone who’s really low in the polls like Jindal, but he won’t be able to do that against stronger and more popular debaters like Rubio, Cruz, and Fiorina.
Jindal tried to make the case that he was the most conservative, but what he doesn’t seem to understand is that in this year’s race, voters don’t really care about that. They want the most unique candidate who also can beat Hillary.
He stuck to his talking points too much, it got repetitive after a while.

Santorum and Huckabee didn’t have any gaffes, but pretty much stuck to their messages and didn’t impress anyone.

Huckabee makes some good points about his fair tax and other economic issues, but I think at this point republican voters have tuned him out because he’s too folksy and not angry or aggressive enough to reflect the anger and frustration voters feel around the country.

When Huckabee was talking I realized a simple truth. For most of the candidates, it doesn’t matter at all what they’re saying. Voters are paying more attention to their body language and how they’re talking than the details of what they’re actually saying. If voters have already tuned out a candidate, they could know the issues better than anyone and be as eloquent as anyone, but it won’t matter.
I don’t think anyone in the undercard debate really helped themselves, even Christie. They just didn’t have enough time to make a strong impression, and the opponents they really needed to debate, like Rubio and Trump, were in the next debate, which prevented them from having any memorable moments.

Thoughts on the main debate:

To me the big takeaway from this debate was more than anything about what wasn’t said rather than the things that were said.

I don’t think there will be big changes in the polls, but I think it may have signified a shift in the direction of the race away from the unserious candidates like Carson and Trump to the serious candidates like Cruz and Rubio.

Long ago I predicted that over time the debates would separate the candidates who know policy details and who are electable from those who are high in the polls only due to personality and likeability. I think we’re finally beginning to see that as Carson and Trump give the same performances at every debate. Trump just stands there, attacks one or two candidates, then backs off for the rest of the debate while repeating the same lines he’s been repeating ever since he got into the race.

Carson quietly answers the questions he’s asked and avoids all conflicts with other candidates, while never interjecting himself into any discussion or showing any passion and thus causing himself to be left out of the biggest and most heated discussions.

Rubio started out with a great answer to the question about minimum wage. He gave the big picture about why it hurts workers and makes american less competitive, and explained all of the steps he would take to change that instead of raising the min wage.

Kasich once again lectured republicans about being moral and responsible and came off as desperate and unhinged. He effectively ended his campaign tonight.

Cruz gave a great answer about his tax plan.

Bush does best when he’s attacking Obama and Hillary’s policies, he fails when he tries to attack fellow Republicans because people know it’s fake since they know he’s a nice guy and isn’t naturally predisposed to being mean-spirited and attacking others. It’s clear to me that either him or his team decided not to attack Rubio for that reason, and because they know Rubio is prepared to hit him back and make him look even weaker than before.

Fiorina gave a great answer on how to reform the government, it was detailed while also describing the bigger picture.
On immigration Trump doesnt even make sense and just repeats the same talking points over and over again.

Rubio’s answer on jobs and competing in the global economy was great and actually reminded me of some of Romney’s answers in the 2012 debates. He talks about the big picture and then gives 4 or 5 bullet points about how he’d fix the problems he just described. Few, if any other candidates do this. It separates Rubio because it shows he’s thought about and studied the issues in depth, and has come up with specific plans. The other candidates seem unprepared in comparison.

Trump seems like an oger in comparison.

Cruz’s answer on illegal immigration was probably the best of the night.

Carly’s answers are all great, but I think her problem is she talks in paragraphs instead of soundbites, and the average voter is looking for catchy soundbites that stick out to differentiate the candidates. Carly tends to talk too long and repeat the same talking points, but she doesn’t connect with the grassroots the way Cruz does or use the soundbites and catchphrases Rubio does.

Cruz actually did the best job explaining how his plan would benefit the average worker in america and how it would help businesses compete with China and other countries. This is something republicans need to do more of. They need to explain how their tax and regulatory policies and ideas will specifically help the average american.

I couldn’t believe it, but Cruz had a Rick Perry moment when he mentioned the department of commerce twice.

Rubio easily won the debate with Rand over military spending, not on its merits, but because the audience was clearly on his side and against Rand. The initial debate about whether conservatives should support a new entitlement like the child tax credit was completely forgotten, which is mostly Rand’s fault because he combined military spending in his point about new entitlements.

Cruz talked about sugar subsidies to jab Rubio. That’s the closest cruz has gotten to attacking any candidate, which tells me he thinks Rubio is his #1 opponent. Rubio’s lucky he wasn’t mentioned by name, cause I think that’s one of Rubio’s few weaknesses, his support of sugar subsidies, and I think Cruz would win that debate.

Cruz also explained how he would pay for his military spending, which is another thing republicans almost never do.

Kasich really showed his true colors in this debate. In other words, he was a total ass. He forced his way into debates even when the moderators asked him not to, and he was rude about it.

Carly makes really good points, but I think they’re so complicated and intellectual that they go over people’s heads. They just don’t connect with the average voter, like her point about zero based budgeting. She sounds more like she’s running for being the CEO of a major company that president of the US.
Rand made a fool of Trump on the TPP deal, proving Trump still knows almost nothing about policy.

Carson once again seemed lost at the debate. He just doesn’t reflect the mood in the gop primary electorate cause he speaks with no passion or energy. So far the debates haven’t hurt him but they haven’t helped him either, and eventually I think his support will drop off and will go to Rubio and Cruz.

I think I figured out Trump’s strategy. He attacks his opponents in the media and at rallies, but he avoids doing so at debates because he knows he’s not smart or prepared enough to actually debate the facts with them and would lose those debates. So he attacks them before and after debates and just repeats his talking points at debates to maintain his status as the front runner. He knows that if he got into a debate with Rubio or Cruz and lost it, it would be the beginning of the end for him because it would show how weak and unprepared he is, and his whole campaign is based on his personality and the perception of strength and winning.

I think Trump turned off some people when he called Carly out for interrupting people, but I think he actually had a point. She does have a tendency to interrupt or inject herself into conversations, and it’s not presidential. But it was stupid of Trump to point out because the crowd was on her side and he turned them against himself by saying that.

Rand makes some good points on foreign policy. I agreed with him completely about not arming the rebels, which most republicans have supported. His problem is he talks like a college professor and doesn’t make his points forcefully and with passion. His side of the argument has some valid points to make, but they need a different messenger to make them.

Rubio’s answer on how to deal with the Middle East and Putin was another great one that effectively negated any point Rand made, and again the crowd was clearly with Rubio.

Bush’s answers make no sense to the average voter. He uses terms and facts that nobody understands or is aware of. He just doesn’t connect with the average republican, or american for that matter. He’s been too sheltered all his life, and beyond that, he’s been out of politics for too long and can’t relate to the current problems the country faces.

Carson went too long without talking and was forgotten.

Rubio’s answer on breaking up banks that are too big to fail was another great one. He’s on the same page as Carson and Bush, the difference is he’s more articulate and speaks with energy and passion, and talks about the issue in a way people can understand rather than in vague generalities or obscure facts.

Carly’s closing statement was way too egotistical. She hasn’t learned the lesson that anyone who refers to themself in the third person immediately turns off voters because it shows how prideful and arrogant they are.