Saturday, September 19, 2015

Race for the White House 2016 Volume 38

Here is a brief review of the performances and other comments related to the weeks had by the 15 Republican Presidential candidates who met this past Wednesday at the Reagan Library in California. The Democrats have yet to have had a debate and many in the party are not happy about that fact. The pressure will certainly be on Hillary Clinton when she does have to face opponents next month.

The biggest fail of the debate day was Wolf Blitzer and CNN who spent a significant portion of time talking about a woman in the audience being Nancy Reagan when it was clearly not Nancy Reagan. How do these people have jobs?

The undercard debate-

George Pataki- He did just fine in this afternoon contest but it will mean nothing of course. He is perhaps the only GOP contender though to say outright he would not support Donald Trump as the nominee if he were to win. Of course, Trump takes the time to attack Pataki.

Lindsey Graham- If anyone really "won" this debate, it was him. He was dour and gloomy a month ago in Cleveland, but in this meeting, he was funny and animated. He promised that he would drink with Democrats if he were President and he stood by his theme of needing to take the fight to Islamist extremists militarily. I applaud him for also standing up for legal immigration and against those on the right who simply play to fear and frustration about the situation in Washington.

Bobby Jindal- I liked the way he started off in the debate by savaging Donald Trump in very personal terms. He clearly realizes he has nothing to lose at this point in that regard. Otherwise, though he was neck and neck in the Desperation Derby with Rick Santorum. He stood up for the right of Kentucky Democrat Clerk Kim Davis to not obey the law and said that he was more upset with Republicans in Congress than Barack Obama. I used to think the man was so smart too. He seemed to basically call for the elimination of the Republican Party. I guess if they are not looking like they might nominate you...

Rick Santorum- Along with Jindal, the desperation was palpable. He was quite passionate though in calling for limits on immigration and saying that everyone else in the field was for "amnesty." He also tried to appeal to others out there by calling for a raise in the minimum wage. Maybe he would accept Democrat Kim Davis as his running-mate.

I will always remember being moved as a teenager by listening to Santorum defend the right to life of the unborn on the Senate floor but that was a long time ago now and he had a comment in this debate in which he seemed to equate gay couples with the Columbine killers that I thought was absolutely shameful.

Prime time debate-

Rand Paul- Are we sure he is still running for President? He debate performance will not do much to help his standing. He got into it a bit early on with Trump who basically dismissed Paul's right to even be on the stage. Later, Paul came close to going full libertarian on foreign policy and drug issues and the former champion of the Aqua Buddha went after Jeb Bush for having smoked pot in High School and then growing up and opposing its legalization.

Later in the week, a top Paul aide would be slapped/sort of punched in a Michigan bar, by a top aide to Marco Rubio and police were called and this Paul aide is calling for the Rubio aide to be fired, etc, and the general consensus is that the Paul aide is a wimp.

Chris Christie- I have to say that this was a pretty good showing for him. Nonetheless, he seemed to anger Carly Fiorina by basically dismissing her right to talk about her business experience and she was clearly not happy after that. He also got into too long of a drug discussion with Rand Paul. Of course, the entire focus of CNN was to try to get the candidates to right with each other. All things considered though, Christie probably did himself some good and might get a look by those who are not yet sold on a candidate.

Mike Huckabee- Almost all of the GOP candidates perspired under the hot television lights and Huckabee was probably the sweatiest. There was not really too much that he said in the debate that has stuck with me. He has been a better communicator in past debate performances.

Ted Cruz- Out of all the candidates, he is the least likely to take issue with his buddy Donald Trump. At times, Cruz gave a very well delivered articulation of his beliefs, but many have remarked that he was not too much of a force in this debate and that he can come across as too scripted and polished. He has gradually moved up in the polls though and may really be someone to be reckoned with before all is said and done, and he is likely to be a very polarizing figure, even among Republicans.

John Kasich- The Ohio Governor got very strong marks for the first debate in his home state and considerably less strong reviews this week. There is also not too much he said that really is that remembered, but he seemed to take a nuanced position on how to deal with the implantation of the disgraceful Iran deal that might have turned off many conservatives. Folks on the left and in the media gave Kasich somewhat better reviews, which is telling in and of itself. This 11 person format really does not appeal to his strengths and it will be interesting to see if he suffers at all in New Hampshire where he has been investing considerable resources.

Scott Walker- I thought he had a pretty good first answer in the debate but then Donald Trump just savaged him on his Wisconsin record, which was probably completely unfair, but Walker was not really able to fight back and did not seem to be much of a force for the rest of the debate. He clearly needed a strong performance more than anyone, considering plummeting polls, and he was basically an afterthought.

Many Walker supporters have already bailed to Marco Rubio or other candidates and there is already talk about him dropping out before too long. In the short-term though, it appears that his campaign will have a bit of a staff shakeup and they may just invest everything in neighboring Iowa at the expense of all other states.

Marco Rubio- For the second debate in a row, he was very smooth and very substantive. That is a good combination for a politician. He was largely above the fray in the conflicts between the candidates, but demonstrated a strong grasp of issues. He probably would have benefited from more screen time, but made the most out what he did get.

Ben Carson- The trajectory of polls had led many to believe that Carson might be in first not long after the debates, but despite a gray pinstriped suit that most other candidates would not dare have attempted, it was indeed a pretty "low energy" performance by the perpetually calm Dr. Carson.

Many people may appreciate his demeanor, but he did not seem to be overly knowledgeable about some issues and one of the main things that came out from the debate was that he had opposed U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan after 9/11.  I think the debate was largely a missed opportunity for him and that many of his current supporters may switch over to Carly Fiorina.

Carly Fiorina- If anyone "won" the debate, it was her. That's impressive considering she had moved up a weight class from last week. The bottom line is that she is an extremely skilled political communicator, even though Donald Trump has gone to great lengths to try to attack her business record. Questions certainly remain about her time at Lucent and HP, but Fiorina got the best out of Trump in the debate on style and substance. Will it matter though to those who have bought into what Trump is selling? Her well-practiced but deliberate response to Trump having made comments about her face in a recent interview was a strong moment for her and his chauvinistic response/non-apology was considered a boorish moment for him. Even leftists are starting to state that Fiorina is just a stronger communicator than Hillary Clinton can ever hope to be.

Donald Trump- The man can clearly talk and might even be a bit better at mildly skimming the surface of issues in the race, but he remained very low on details and the consensus from high-information watchers and from the media was that he had a bad debate. We thought that last time though too. People are still waiting for the Summer of Trump to officially end and I still think it eventually will.

He sparred with several candidates on the stage, but most frequently with Jeb Bush. Some think that Trump got the best of some exchanges, but Bush beat him on others as well.  Trump refused to apologize to Columba Bush for bringing up her Mexican heritage, which could not come as a surprise that he refused to apologize, but both Fiorina and Bush had some specific responses to Trump that pretty much left him merely shaking his head.

Trump was definitely the central feature in the debate and will get the most talk this weekend as well. At a New Hampshire event, he took a question from an audience member who said that Muslims were a problem in the United States, allegedly setting up terror camps and whatnot, and that Barack Obama is a Muslim and not an American. Trump did nothing to disagree with the assertion and even seemed to mildly agree.

I am not overly surprised that a Trump supporter would believe such garbage or that Trump would welcome it, but a media firestorm ensued. Most surprising to me is that yesterday, Trump cancelled an appearance at an event that most other candidates were attending in South Carolina, citing concerns about a business deal. Huh? I thought he was all done with business. Isn't "Making America Great" more important for him at this point?

Jeb Bush- I have saved what I consider the best candidate for last. He might not have "won" the debate, and I do not think he should have ever been expected to dynamically dominate the proceedings, but I thought he did very well. Most pundits, professional and amateur say he did pretty well and got better as the debate went on and they also say he was was improved from the August performance.

As a supporter, I wish Jeb would have done a bit more to fight back against some of the things that Trump said, but he probably did have the strongest moment of the entire debate, when he defended his brother, President George W. Bush for keeping us safe after 9/11.

Jeb Bush has a long way to go to claim the nomination and many hurdles to overcome, but the knowledgeable, compassionate, and experienced candidate on the stage in California is someone who would probably fare quite well in a one on one debate next year with Hillary Clinton or whomever the Democrats might nominate.


At 6:12 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...



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