Here are my random thoughts on the most recent GOP debate:
For every debate, I look for a commander in chief on the debate stage. Still, I haven’t seen one.
The closest I get to seeing one is Cruz, but even he doesn’t appear to be completely ready.
Ironically, out of all the candidates who’ve ran for president in the past 8 years, only one has stuck in my mind as the man who would make a great commander in chief, and that’s Rick Perry, who was the first to drop out of the race this time around.
Sure, he wasn’t a great debater, but not every great president has been a great orator- Calvin Coolidge comes to mind among others. Perry’s record speaks for itself, and he has the integrity, character, experience, and knowledge required to be a great president. It’s a shame he messed up the first time around and was never given a second chance.
Back to 2016 and reality . . . .
Right off the bat it was bad for Cruz. He completely dodged the question about him stating that Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be commander in chief. If you say something about someone on the campaign trail you gotta have the guts to say it to their face. He came off as just another politician, and it looked weak, like he was afraid of getting into a fight with Trump.
I don’t know who gave Cruz advice about not attacking Trump but it was really bad advice. When you’re dealing with a bully you gotta confront him head on and not be seen as backing down. He didn’t have to be mean about it, but there were plenty of ways he could’ve made the case that Trump doesn’t have the temperament to be C in C.
Cruz gave himself self-inflicted wounds both in his dodging Trump, and in the way he handled the Carson affair. His explanation was way too long, and as they say, in politics when you’re explaining you’re losing.
The only reason the debate was a complete loss for Cruz is because the other guys were attacking Rubio, which had 2 benefits for Cruz a)it prevented Rubio from attacking Cruz, and b)it took all of the attention off of Cruz’s weak performance and put it on Rubio’s disastrous performance.
I think I know what Cruz’s rationale was for laying off Trump. He knew Rubio would be viciously attacked and he also knew he has no chance of winning NH. He also knows it’s in his best interest if Trump wins big in NH cause that would put a stop to Rubio’s momentum, effectively weakening his #1 opponent long term.
So he didn’t wanna get into a fight with Trump cause that would take attention off of Rubio’s bad night and put it on him.
But I think that was a horrible strategy for several reasons:
1)On the trail Cruz pinpointed arguably Trump’s biggest weakness, which is his lack of stability or consistency, and his temperament. It’s probably the strongest argument anyone can make against him. Why Cruz thought he couldn’t make that case against Trump effectively on a debate stage is beyond me, cause if there’s anyone who could’ve done it it’s Cruz.
2)This was Cruz’s best chance to hurt Trump long-term. If he make an effective argument against Trump’s decisions and temperament, and there was a really good one to be made (Trump basically went from calling for re-election to saying he didn’t care about Iowa in a matter of days), and Trump had no good rebuttal, it could have damaged Trump in NH and effectively ended his campaign imo.
This is one of the few problems I have with Cruz. He’s a brilliant strategist, but sometimes he outsmarts himself and overthinks and overplans things. Sometimes the best thing to do is the simplest and most obvious thing, in this case taking the opportunity the moderator gave him and using it to bash Trump.
Instead he created an awkward moment that actually allowed Trump to bash him and he didn’t even respond. It reminded me of Pawlenty’s infamous “Obamneycare” moment where he refused to repeat the critcism of Romney he came up with on the campaign trail, which effectively ended his campaign. I’m not saying this is on that level for Cruz, but it was eerily similar to me, and I hope it’s a mistake he doesn’t repeat in future debates.
Rubio’s performance was really troubling for me. It really made me question if he’s ready to be president. If he can’t handle Christie, how’s he gonna handle Putin and other world leaders?
He was visibly shaken when Christie attacked him, which doesn’t make sense since he had all week to prepare for those attacks, and they weren’t particular eloquent or smart. Christie simply bashed his record and lack of experience, and Rubio had no good comeback. It’s baffling.
It looked like Christie was the leader of a fraternity and Rubio was a freshman doing a rush and was being hazed for it. It’s clear Rubio hasn’t had enough challenges in his life, he’s been too sheltered, and this debate just proved Christie’s point that he’s too protected and insulated by his people.
Rubio recovered later on, but I think his debate with Christie will stick in people’s minds. If he had any chance of winning NH, he blew it tonight.
Whether he can recover from this long term depends on how he does in future debates, and he better have some better answers prepared for these questions instead of the same old talking points that clearly failed him tonight.
The crowd appeared to be against Rubio and with Christie, which also hurt him since up til now the crowd has been with Rubio in every debate.
Raddatz was a horrible moderator and actually made points and opinions that she should’ve kept to herself.
Cruz owned the question she asked about N Korea.
Cruz gave a great answer on how to stop illegal immigration.
Rubio dodged another question, this time about his gang of 8 bill, and went back to his tired talking points.
Rubio’s rebuttal to Christie’s attack on the gang of 8 bill made no sense. He essentially attacked his own bill and position. It’s clear that he hasn’t come up with a good defense of his actions on the gang of 8 bill, probably cause there is none, and he figures even attempting to defend it would backfire, so why try?
But his avoidance of that attempt is turning out to be even worse for him, especially in contrast to Christie’s tough talk and example as governor. It’s making him look like a typical politician.
Trump lost the debate with Jeb on eminent domain, but it doesnt matter cause his supporters dont even know what it is and could care less about it as long as it doesn’t affect them.
Rubio dodged the question about whether or not Trump is a conservative, again making him look weak and like an average politician.
Rubio gave good answers to the questions on ISIS, but they were boring and again involved the same talking points.
Cruz gave a bad answer on whether or not waterboarding is torture. He sounded a lot more like a lawyer and not a president. When you combine that with Trump being asked the same question directly afterwards and giving a simple and strong answer, it once again made Cruz look weak and like a typical politician.
Bush had his best debate by far, but it’s too little too late. Voters have already tuned him out. Same with Kasich.
I think being on the trail for so long and lack of sleep is taking its toll on the candidates. Cruz and Rubio were making mistakes they don’t normally make in debates, like with Rubio’s repeating the same talking point, and Cruz saying “James Berghdal”, among other things.
Christie is dead wrong on abortion, and he clearly hasn’t thought much about the issue, cause if he did he would know that there can be NO exceptions. If you say abortion is ok in some circumstances, you’re saying it’s ok in ALL circumstances. Either it’s murder or it’s not, and if it is, it’s murder no matter what environment or situation it takes place in.
Bottom lines on this debate:
I was greatly disappointed by both Rubio and Cruz’s performances. These are not the kinds of debates you see from potential presidents. Both need to come back at the next debate with really strong performances, and this fear of Trump, or at least strategic decision to not take him on and criticize him directly has to end, otherwise you’re not giving voters the contrast and the clear choice they deserve between you and Trump.
Cruz has talked about how Reagan used to say we need to paint with bold colors, not pale pastels. He should take that advice and do so with Trump. It’s time to break out the bold colors and give conservatives a reason to rally behind you, or at least against Trump, once and for all.
Trump was the decisive winner of this debate, and as is always the case with him, it wasn’t on substance, it was on style and body language. Nobody dared go after him except Bush and that was on an issue Trump voters dont’ care about, so it had no effect.
What has the Republican Party come to when a reality tv show host, serial adulterer, and ego-maniacal narcissist is able to win a debate?
Voters want a candidate who doesn’t play the political games and actually speaks from the heart. Sure, that can be risky at times, but voters deserve to know what a candidate is really thinking, and what they really believe. I know it’s rare for a politician to always be honest, but we should have high standards for our politicians.
I believe Cruz really believes what he says he believes, but he needs to stop being so strategic and just lay it all on the line. Go big or go home as they say.
That being said, I think the next debate will clarify a lot for me. It doesn’t matter if you get knocked down in life, what matters is whether or not you get back up. The remaining candidates will have a chance to prove if they can get back up, and if they have the ability to learn from mistakes. That’s a crucial quality for a president to have, and I’ll be watching to see which candidates prove they have it.