The first debate of this election cycle just ended, and it was a fun one to watch. Here are my initial thoughts after the debate.
- Marco Rubio did the best out of all the GOP candidates. His answers where clear and concise and devoid of the pandering that other candidates resorted to. He also looked the most presidential out of all 10 candidates. I was very impressed by his mannerisms and his wording and wished that Fox would have spent more time with him than the other candidates.
- I was also very impressed with Rand Paul. While Paul tends to flip-flop on issues, I thought that he stayed true to what he believed to be true, especially under pressure from Chris Christie. His answer to foreign aid was very disappointing though, as he skirted around the idea of stopping foreign aid to Israel instead of just coming out and saying what his ideas where.
- Dr. Ben Carson looked aloof and sounded terrible. Whenever he talked he veered all over the place and could not give a straight answer. Definitely the loser in this debate.
- Another less clear loser was Donald Trump. The real estate mogul was subdued in his comments but was unable to touch on any issues in a significant way. While the other candidates discussed concrete plans and their records as politicians, Trump was reduced to uttering basic conservative talking points and making cheap jokes. From watching him, it is clear that he is not qualified to lead the country in any way. He seemed like a kid playing with the adults. However, his statement that he would run as a third party if necessary should be ringing alarm bells in the GOP leadership.
- Chris Christie got a lot of air time, which was shocking. Notable were his angry exchange with Sen. Rand Paul about homeland security and his discussion with Mike Huckabee about reforming Social Security. This later discussion was one of the highlights of the night, with two GOP candidates presenting their different ideas in a civil way.
- Seeing Jeb Bush squirm when the Iraq War and his brother came up was fun. Every time he talked he brought it back to his time as a Florida governor. Not much discussion about the future.
- A shocking statement came from Ohio governor John Kasich, who stated that the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality should be accepted as the law of the land, breaking from the standard conservative ideology.
- Ted Cruz was effectively shunned during the debate, only getting time to half answer a few questions and tell the audience that he has never listened to a lobbyist, even though a quick Google search shows that he does receive a lot of lobby money.
- Scott Walker was a creepy weirdo as always and in a low moment of the night stated that he would not allow an abortion for a woman even if her life was in jeopardy. This elicited a shocked “So you would let the woman die?!” from host Megyn Kelly. Remember that GOP voters.
- Trump admitted to donating to the Clintons to buy political favors from them.
- Quite a few comparisons to Ronald Reagan as expected.
- Rand Paul gave a pretty good answer about the Iran deal, highlighting his concern about lifting sanctions before checkpoints are reached instead of the other way around, which was a nice civil response to the questions.
- Both Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee don’t seem to understand how modern airplanes work. Dr. Carson is angry that we have less warplanes than in the 1940s, even though modern aircraft are designed to be force multipliers, doing the job of dozens of older airplanes. Mike Huckabee is angry that we are still flying B-52s that are older than he is, even though they are one of the best airframes that the USAF has ever used and are constantly upgraded. Minor things, but those stood out.
- All of the candidates and hosts completely ignored Bernie Sanders. He was not mentioned once and all the discussion was about how to beat Hillary Clinton. That is going to bite them eventually. Don’t discount Bernie.
- The lowest point of the night was when religion came up. I like learning about the candidate’s religion, but I was very uncomfortable seeing Ted Cruz and Scott Walker use the name of Jesus Christ and his atonement as ways to score cheap points in a political debate. Candidates should not be using Jesus Christ that way, and I found that to be a mockery of Christian religion.
- That part of the debate did give us my favorite line of the night. “God has blessed the Republicans with amazing candidates while the Democrats can’t find one.” – Marco Rubio. Sure Senator Rubio. Sure.
Final Thoughts: This debate showed the diverse playing field that the Republicans are dealing with. None of them convinced me well enough to give them my vote, but there was some clear winners of the debate, mainly Marco Rubio and Rand Paul. Chris Christie will make big plays in this election cycle, while Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz are fading out. All the other candidates are not worth mentioning. We will have to see how the next debate goes.
Also, during the debate I played bingo. Here is my card: