GOP Shows Off A Deep Bench At The First Debates


Now that we political junkies have round one of our version of debate porn out of the way, and all analysis is proclaiming Carly Fiorina the winner of the first debate and Donald Trump the elephant turd on the stage of the second, perhaps it’s time to sit back and bask in the glow of the rest of the herd.  To put it mildly, narrowing this group down to a single choice for the presidential nomination is going to be difficult.

The main reason why?  There’s a little something for everyone in this group, and in a CROWDED debate format that allowed for little actual debate and featured far more in the way of recited talking points that’s all we got.  (What is wrong with pulling names out of a hat and doing three events with the match-ups mixed up?)

At any rate, first impressions, and stand out takeaways:

Donald Trump is first and foremost a celebrity.  His talking points do tap into anger, but being a salesman, he knows how to craft a message to get his point across.  He is right when he says this country is too politically correct.  The one thing that Trump does bring to the table is that he forces everyone else to be twice as ready as they were yesterday.

The governors are quite obviously more used to debating than the others in the group.  As each one was anxious to outline their resume an achievements while in office, the most impressive from a conservative standpoint are Texas’ Rick Perry and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, both of whom outshone the others on the stage at the early debate from an energy and communication standpoint, and Jeb Bush in the second (he can’t talk all that much better than his brother), even if Scott Walker did better.

Fiorina may have had Jindal and Perry on policy points and articulation, but she doesn’t look down the barrel of the camera to speak and sounds like she’s in a conference room while she’s name dropping.  Political junkies…that needs to be fixed to resonate with the independents who have no idea who she is if she stands ANY chance of going far in this race.  She also needs to open her mouth more when she talks.

Dr. Ben Carson, Fiorina, and Trump do have something in common that the others don’t so much, and that is being adept at thinking on their feet.  That is a skill that each of them learned while rising to the top in their respective fields.  Each also made it quite clear that the learning curve for them is fast, and they can handle it.

The three senators – Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul – guys, a debate stage is not the well of the Senate, and filibustering is not needed.  The questions that are asked need to be answered.  Cruz still gives closing arguments as if he’s trying to sway a jury and Rand Paul…the Senate needs him.  Constructively, it would be a better place for someone like him.  Rubio is definitely the most gifted orator of the three, but his lack of executive experience IS a problem, even if he tried to brush that off.

As for the rest of it:

  • A lot of time was spent with John Kasich who has a record that is respectable in his home state of Ohio, but realistically, it’s not going to sell to the conservative base.
  • All the “I grew up poor” stories should be saved for the general campaign.  This time period is about policy and records, not empathy.
  • More of Scott Walker and Jeb Bush would have been nice, since they are closer to the top of the polls.
  • The one on one shouting match between Chris Christie and Rand Paul would have been better done on a stage with far fewer partners, not that the topic of privacy rights as it relates to terrorism isn’t worth the discussion.
  • All the attention on Donald Trump was unseemly.  Much of that could have been done in interviews, not wasting time during a limited debate.
  • The amount of time the moderators took to ask questions was ridiculous.  Not to mention really over the top and meant to put several of the candidates on the defensive.  (And, please, Megyn Kelly, talk to KT McFarland about how to be classy.  Dressed up white trash is just not attractive.)
  • More questions on taxes and how each of the candidates would approach tax reform would have been nice…although Mike Huckabee’s reasoning for a consumption tax was pretty good.

But, really, it was something else that Huckabee had to say that needs to be explored.  Every governor knows that the biggest challenge they had was the Federal Government putting mandates on the states.  If limiting the size of the fed and getting all the debt paid down is one of the greatest dangers why was this not explored?

Ultimately, the answer may not be all that flattering.  When it comes down to it, though, Thursday’s circus in Cleveland was more or less just an introduction even if it was more along the lines of a raucous good time for people who revel in confrontation, and zingers.  At times, it was all downright uncivil.  But, then, this round is not about being constructive – it wasn’t, but it was eye opening.

From the second tier, four candidates would be better off to bow out now and throw their weight behind someone else.   From the first, expect a big reshuffling with Trump still on top, at least for now.  Lest the reader misunderstand this diatribe, this writer believes that any of the seventeen would be a VAST improvement over the current administration, however, given the demands of the job, executive experience must be considered, which is why it should be no shock that the actual nominee may well come from the pile of governors.  (Bush, Walker, Christie, Perry, Jindal, Kasich, Huckabee)  The executive seat is not the only one up for grabs next year.  Some of these people would be terrific in other positions.

There is a lot to like in the Republican field this time around, just as there is a lot to criticize.  But it must be remembered that the candidate has to be one who can win, not one that impresses political partisans.

For another perspective, Sgt A at our sister site offered his opinion.

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.