I spent my Tuesday night watching both Fox Business/WSJ Republican Debates, and then the commentary until about 1 am Eastern, bouncing between all the major cable news channels. Yes my friends, I am a political junkie. Opinions about who won and lost the Republican debate are a dime a dozen. However, I cannot help but add my two cents.
First off, if anyone wants to know how to conduct a substantive debate, all they need to do is look at the Fox Business News/WSJ Republican Debate. They were able to ask tough questions, without being condescending or calling anyone a comic-book villain. It is not the kind of “exciting” debate that makes headlines the next day, but the role of the moderators is not to create news. It is to expose the strengths and weaknesses of candidates through a discussion of facts and opinions.
Therefore, the biggest loser of last night’s debate was CNBC. Their Republican debate, from two weeks ago, was designed to manufacture news, rather than having a substantive debate of the issues. Unlike others, I didn’t perceive any of the questions as “gotcha” questions. However, they we designed to elicit negative reactions from Republican candidates, promting them to fight with each other, or push back on moderators, rather than argue differences of opinion.
Now, to the debate itself. When I talk about which candidates won or lost the Republican debate, unlike some other commentators, I am not evaluating it in the vacuum of the event. Candidates can win the technical debate, but not improve their standing in the race. So, let’s talk about winners and losers in that context.
Republican Debate Winners
Donald Trump – The economy and foreign policy are Donald Trump’s issues. He did have a couple stumbles, but I don’t think they will impact him at all. He’s not going to get a bump, there are too many candidates, but he will remain the front-runner.
Carly Fiorina – Not only has Fiorina clearly identified herself as the anti-Hillary, she will forever be the archetype of a strong, conservative female. She is successful, intelligent, knows the issues, and has thoughtful positions she can defend. Sarah who?
Marco Rubio – I do not believe Rubio did anything to really move his poll numbers. However, I do believe Rubio’s performance will cause donors to jump from Bush. He will be the new Republican establishment favorite.
Republican Debate Losers
Ben Carson – Carson did well shrugging off the claims that he has misrepresented his past. Unfortunately, he had a deer in the headlights look when it came to answering questions about the economy and foreign policy. I expect his core will stay, but the recent gains will start to disappear.
John Kasich – The fact is, Kasich comes across as frustrated and angry. He is resentful that his experience and lifetime in government doesn’t have him running away with the election. He believes he has the best resume, with the best track record, and just can not come to grips with why people can’t see his awesomeness.
Jeb Bush – Technically, Jeb did well in the Republican debate. However, what he needed to do was to hit it out of the park, and become the clear, undisputed winner. Good just isn’t good enough, and I believe Jeb support will tank. He may actually be at the kid’s table for the next debate.
Republican vs Democrat
Democrats are bewildered as to why they have lost so many elected positions over Obama’s term in office. They have not only lost Congress, but also the majority of governorships and state legislatures. They have made a whole lot of excuses, but when we contrast the Republican debate with the Democratic debate, the answer becomes clear. It is the Republican’s who have become the big-tent party of ideas, while Democrats have one-size fits all solutions.
At the Republican debate, we saw real differences of opinion, and a real debate on how to solve problems. On the Democratic side, we saw a debate about who became socialist first, and who will be the most effective at making America a socialist nation the fastest. I’m sorry, I forgot… the correct term for a socialist in America is a progressive.
The Republicans really make the Democratic debates look like a love fest. If the Democrat answer to every problem is more government, they will lose. The worker supporting Democrats because he is a union member, does not what government usurping his gun rights. The same-sex couple who supports Democrats because of their position on LGBT rights, doesn’t want to be taxed to death. If the Democrats want to be the big-tent party, they need more diversity of thought within their ranks.