Tonight’s final GOP debate of the year took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. *ERUPTING CHEERS* It was hosted by CNN and featured two debates, as in the past: 4 candidates in the early debate (Graham, Patacki, Huckabee, Santorum) and 9 candidates in the main debate (Trump, Cruz, Carson, Bush, Rubio, Christie, Fiorina, Paul, and Kasich). At this point, I sincerely believe these candidates should have been trimmed down to give more equal debate time. But I’m not in charge, so here we go.
Since last time: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has withdrawn. Huckabee has moved from the main debate to the early debate. Trump has gone off the rails multiple times, and Cruz has gained significant poll numbers on Trump, especially in Iowa. Recent events such as Paris and the San Bernadino shooting are fresh in everyone’s minds.
Notable: Foreign policy dominates majority of both debates. Freedom vs. security is a huge main theme. Primary season begins with Iowa caucuses, which are are in just seven weeks.
Graham: Clearly the winner of this pre-debate. Disagrees with Trump’s anti-Muslim ban, but is the only one of the four to totally denounce it. The others understand Trump’s intentions, but don’t fully agree with the way he would do it. Notably exclaimed “I miss George W. Bush!” Later, while discussing foreign policy in Syria, calls out Ted Cruz along with his (apparently) favorite movie, Princess Bride: “Getting into bed with Iran and Russia to save Assad…it’s inconceivable!”
Santorum: On the Trump ban, “not all Muslims are jihadists, but all jihadists are Muslims….We have to stop worrying about offending some people and start defending all Americans.” Also questioned whether all of the Islamic faith falls under freedom of religion.
Pataki and Huckabee: No notable quotes…Huckabee did not in any way earn his spot back to the main debate. Pataki discussed some policy while claiming credibility because of his time as governor of New York on 9/11.
Bush: Spends most of the night going up against Trump. Picked an immediate fight with Trump over banning Muslims. Bush said that the only way to make “America great again” is to include them, not ban them. Bush’s most significant one-liner directed at Trump: “You can’t insult your way to the presidency.” This got a large cheer from audience.
Trump: Continues anti-Muslim rhetoric as “necessary.” His most frequent internet mentions I saw revolved around his idea of “penetrating the internet” to find ISIS (I’d love to see him try). Two hours into debate, Trump calls out moderators & CNN for continuously evoking him as a punching bag for each and every debate. Wolf Blitzer says it’s not just CNN. You’d think Trump would welome the name drops, since he cares so much about positive media & polling (re: his twitter account).
Cruz: Proposes more direct plan for dealing with Syrian refugees, offering a contrast to Trump’s vague proposal of banning them altogether. Cruz gets particular heat from Wolf Blitzer about his regard for civilian lives on a previous quote of how he would “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion.” Believes political correctness is what is killing our people. Many things he said tonight somewhat align with Trump’s proposals, aka “the wall.”
Fiorina: Makes connections to private sector and makes a call for their help in combating terrorism. Says we don’t need metadata collection, we simply need to start looking at social media, since every parent in America does anyway! Spent a significant amount of time talking over Cruz/Rubio battles declaring “This is why people don’t trust the political class!” Line of the night: “If you want something talked about, ask a man. if you want something done, ask a woman.”
Rubio: Most on edge towards Cruz, since both are on the verge of catching Trump in the polls. Rubio speaks out against Freedom Act (law passed this year ending mass collection but altering ways the NSA continues surveillance), saying intelligence is now weaker, whereas Cruz supported the bill and ending bulk collection. He remains tough on American terrorists: “If you’re an American citizen and you decide to join ISIS, we’re not going to read you your Miranda rights.”
Rand Paul: Continues usual libertarian response of hands-off government and anti-surveillance. As for NSA data collection: “We are not any safer.” Also calls Rubio weakest on immigration – who does not really defend himself. Attacks Trump for not following the constitution: “Closing the internet means losing the first amendment.” Believes that to defeat ISIS terrorists, it needs to be Muslim boots on the ground, not American men and women.
Christie had a strong night. He consistently looks directly into the camera lens, which freaks me out to be completely honest. Spent a great portion of the night arguing that senatorial candidates have no executive experience, only endless debating experience. Highlights his leadership as governor of New Jersey, working hard to separate himself from Washington.
Kasich: Let it be known that the entirety of the debate went by and I had nothing significant to type for him, until he said that Russia needs to be punched in the nose.
Carson: Last candidate (I think) to get a nod at 8:23 pm (CT) and immediately complains about speaking time, which pretty much shows he is becoming irrelevant. Also says being politically correct will allow terrorists to attack. He doesn’t want to seem too outspoken tonight and refuses to comment on anything Cruz/Rubio is battling. I think he’s officially entered an alternate reality.
9:01 pm (CT) Trump is interrupted by rowdy audience member.
9:07 pm (CT) Cruz is really going over talking time. Wolf Blitzer tells him nearly four times he’s out of turn before he actually stops talking. Stage erupts into short chaos.
Took until 9:42 pm (CT) to get out of the Middle East/Syria/Muslim terrorism and move on to North Korea and China. However, it is nowhere near as significant of a discussion.
As I mentioned before, this is is the last GOP debate of the year. So now you have all the political material you need from this crowd for discussion over holiday parties! Stay tuned to the Sundaze for more coverage of the 2016 race as we enter primary season next month. #StaySmart #StayInformed