Republican Debate Open Thread

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Rich Lowry:

If you’re an advisor to one of the candidates tonight, how do you advise him or her to have a moment, and make it entirely authentic and preferably completely spontaneous?

Ben Carson benefited the most from the Fox debate, not because he dominated it. In fact, he disappeared for most if it. He has risen pretty much on the basis of his closing statement that his campaign says he ad-libbed and that was amusing, different, and very true to Carson.

Carson’s surge speaks to how volatile the race is, and how sensitive it is to a big moment on the big stage.

A few other thoughts:

Donald Trump had an objectively bad debate last time, but effectively changed the subject with the hail of fists he began throwing as soon as he left the stage. I still think he will be hurt over time if he is manifestly unprepared for these events. A lot of other candidates will be spoiling for a fight with him tonight. It’​s hard to see conventional attacks fazing him; his vulnerability is probably to deft mockery, of the sort you can see Carly potentially wielding.

Speaking of Carly. There has been a lot of positive buzz about her for months now, and it reached another level after the last debate. But she still hasn’t had a big jump in the polls, perhaps because she hasn’t had the aforementioned big moment on the big stage. Tonight is her opportunity.

Before the last debate I wrote that Scott Walker just had to survive it, which wasn’t just wrong, but catastrophically wrong. He ducked and covered, and although he made no gaffes, he faded to the background. He has to be much better tonight. The same goes for Jeb. If he doesn’t make a strong impression and if the new TV ads haven’t moved the needle several weeks from now, he may begin to be at risk of losing his grip on the Republican establishment.

I would think Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are feeling less pressure than the others — each has been more or less sticking to their plan for the long run and can have some confidence that their merits as performers will tell over time (barring, of course, some memorable mis-step, which is possible for everyone).

Finally, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic of the much-smaller early debate plays out. Usually, there has to be someone who is declared a winner, and that holds the potential for a bounce in attention for someone. Bobby Jindal has the most upside of that group.

Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

42 Responses to “Republican Debate Open Thread”

  1. 5


    @Dr John –

    CNN is hoping for a brawl, with Trump starting it. The aim is to show all the candidates are unfit to be president – Trump is ill-fit as a serious candidate, the rest unable to pointedly confront Trump. We’ll see what unfolds.

  2. 10

    Rich Wheeler

    @DrJohn: Syria–Obama should have taken out Assad–Putin punked him.
    What mistake did Carly make re Syria?
    As a Dem. the only person up there I would vote for is Rubio–if he gets the nom he’s our next Prez.

  3. 12


    CNN’s debate style is high school.

    Moderator: Suzy said this about Mark.
    Moderator: Mark, How does it make you feel?
    Mark: Suzy’s a bitch but this girl Steph is kind of Groovy.
    Moderator interrupts, “Now about this Suzy?”
    Mark, “Hmmm Suzy… I like Steph more, this is what I would do….
    Moderator interrupts again: “George, Mark thinks your gay, is this a correct characterization?”

  4. 13



    @Rich Wheeler:

    You take out Assad- then what? Who replaces him? Someone even worse?

    Assad is fighting a coup. The FSA and and ISIS are on the same side at the moment and I do think if Obama bombed Assad out ISIS would rule Syria today.

  5. 15


    CNN is following the same basic plan Fox used, focusing on Trump, setting up attacks between candidates, preventing them from actually making position statements. I am not a Christie supporter, but I appreciated his attempt to stop the stupid kindergarten catfight between Trump and Fiorina, trying to focus on how to fix the failure of the Obama disaster.

    Trump is rambling more, using broken sentences and talking in vague generalities tonight.

    Bush is still trying to shed his milquetoast persona. I can see the dem campaign commercial now….”Bush 1 got us into 1 war in the middle east…Bush 2 got the US into 2 wars there….ready to try for 3? (Cue ominous music riff…)”

    Christie, Huckabee and Rand have all done better than in the first debate, but like Cruz, are being marginalized by the moderators in favor of the “Start a Trump-Bush-Fiorina fight” drivel.

    Carson ,thus far, hasn’t done as well as.the first debate, but doesn’t seem to have made any missteps – just not coming across as very polished.

    Kasich isn’t coming across as the semi-senile doddering septaganarian uncle like he did in the first round. Rand has toned down the arrogrant prig demeanor from the 1st debate. Fiorina seems to be holding her ground fairly well, but infrequently emits a bit of shrillness.

    On the few times Cruz has been able to speak, he has been steady, and even though I am a Cruz supporter, has trended into being a bit canned in his speaking.

  6. 17

    Rich Wheeler

    @DrJohn: Assad has been and continues to be on borrowed time–He’s a despot and his early removal was the right thing to do. Putin also must be marginalized. We must arm and assist the Kurds and forcefully bring our allies in to eliminate ISIS WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.

    Debate I got it Fiorini-Rubio-Huckabee-Christie- Bottom 4 Paul-Kasich-Carson-Walker—– Trump realized he’s in a fight–Bush improved from 1st debate disaster. Cruz is in trouble.
    Enjoyed it immensely

  7. 18

    James Raider


    It was obvious that CNN was going to conduct a full-on Trump attack. They hate him just barely more than the GOP establishment. They hammered and hammered, in his face incessantly. Pathetic. He held his own, but he got worn down, no doubt. CNN mission accomplished. They tried hard not have a debate but to ignite fights and mud slinging. I found the process embarrassing and felt that it was mostly idiotic. CNN didn’t care to look for answers or shine light on solutions.

    Fiorina and Christie probably gained a few supporters with some excellent emphatic presentations to the public. Fiorina had some great lines.

    Cruz can’t seem to get the “presentation” concept.

    Carson didn’t do himself any favours tonight — broke even.

    Bush made some new friends.

    The rest didn’t break even.

  8. 19


    @Rich Wheeler:

    Who’s the existential threat, Assad or ISIS? Assad or Al Qaeda… aka Al-Nusra?

    Why isn’t Assad an ally.

    Milton Friedman posited that you will not have perfect candidates but you can use environment and circumstance to take advantage of their opportunistic nature to move them to make the right decision.

  9. 20


    @Rich Wheeler:

    Borrowed time? Russia annexed Crimea for a warm water port. Do you really think Russia is giving up their Mediterranean warm water port at Tartus, Syria?

    Arm the Kurds!

    Hey, we agree on a few points to night. Cheers!

  10. 21


    Rubio is really starting to shine in the latter half of the debate.

    The moderators are showing their arrogance with regard to the bogus climate change insanity.

    Ok…Trump’s vaccine stupidity has now made me totally opposed to him. He doesn’t understand what he is talking about.

  11. 22


    Back on subject.

    CNN keeps calling Carly an outsider. But she ran as a moderate against a conservative in her last election. That’s not outsider, that’s a GOPe badge of honor.

    Huckabee brought some conservative principles to the table. He did a lot to increase his likeability with me.

    Cruz was great but kept getting cut off.

    Walker kind of got lost in the mix. He was there, but Huck made a greater impression on me.

    Carson: No one is asking Carson about his anti-evolution stance. The guy doesn’t believe in evolution and I don’t see how that resonates with the general electorate. I very much want to see this vetted as I could be wrong. Am very curious how that polls. But tonight Carson had a good showing. No ground was lost, maybe a lil ground gained.

    Rubio had a good showing.

    Bush was animated as promised.

    Trump was Trump.

  12. 24


    @Pete: Rubio was born in Miami, Florida to TWO ILLEGAL Cuban citizens. He knows he is not eligible. Just because you were born in the U.S. does not mean you are eligible to run for the office of president and/or VP. He is tromping on the Constitution now, so it is a fair statement to state he would continue to do so if he were elected.

    On the other side, as I am from Florida check out his background. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and cares nothing about the American people. . The first ten months in office his priority was illegal immigration. I want someone who will put AMERICAN citizens first. This last year plus it has been all about illegals and screw the American citizen.

  13. 25

    Nanny G

    @Pete: Ok…Trump’s vaccine stupidity has now made me totally opposed to him. He doesn’t understand what he is talking about.

    Isn’t that interesting.
    there were two doctors there on the stage.
    Each weighed in and agreed with Trump (not a doctor) that it would probably be best if vaccines were spaced out instead of bunched together.
    I have never suffered from a child with this disorder but I have overheard doctors say they prefer to ”get it over with,” when it comes to vaccines.
    So they punch as many into the baby as possible per visit.
    Both Dr’s Carson and Paul said it was better to space them out over a longer period of time.

  14. 26


    Trump often speaks in sentences by repeating the predicate, either directly or by rewording. It is frustrating for a listener, but the president’s lilting diction (a speech devise used by native Irish and our vacuous-headed Valley Girl imitators) and his whispering “S” has been frustrating for me. Consequently Trump’s delivery of message is compromised and represents a deficit to be overcome; however, the country overlooked the president’s imperfections in speech because of his style and delivery.

    Trump’s scientific knowledge of disease and medicine is circumspect at best; however, he has touched upon a chilling fact that America keeps hidden: the incidence of autism.

    “You take this little beautiful baby, and you pump — it looks just like it’s meant for a horse,” he said of vaccines.

    “We’ve had so many instances … a child went to have the vaccine, got very, very sick, and now is autistic.”

    (Trump said he supported certain vaccines, but in smaller doses over a longer period of time. Under current procedures, he said it’s dangerous for the public.)

    “Autism has become an epidemic. It has gotten totally out of control.”

    Trump’s fumbling ambiguity and non-professional approach borders on humor; however, the subject matter is serious and the public is asking for answers from the scientific community.

    While we sit and pass judgement on how the other candidates view Trump and listen to negative rants on the non-viability of Trump, he brings up a real and serious problem in America today. He could have turned the event around if he would have made a commitment to solving this problem through research and not acting like he had an amateur’s grasp of the problem.

    I will give him credit for bringing in the cold specter of reality into an otherwise silly tabloid-style debate.

  15. 27



    @Rich Wheeler:

    Assad has been and continues to be on borrowed time–He’s a despot and his early removal was the right thing to do. Putin also must be marginalized. We must arm and assist the Kurds and forcefully bring our allies in to eliminate ISIS WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE.

    I totally agree about the Kurds. Obama is stiffing them big time. If Assad had been taken out early ISIS has a caliphate now- Libya, Syria and Iraq

  16. 28


    Arm the Kurds? Damn right. They seem to be the only ones with enough brass to stand against ISIS, but perhaps that is precisely why our president doesn’t want to arm them.

    Of course he didn’t want to aid the students who stood against the Iranian Regime with rocks. Remember, the students were secular.

  17. 29

    another vet

    I liked the way most of the candidates slammed Obama’s failures with ISIS. While I like Rand Paul’s libertarian bent, he proved that he is unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief. His strategy is wishful thinking not reality based and closely resembles Obama’s which has been a failure. First of all, the sequence of events was Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen. If the ouster of Saddam destabilized the region, Iraq would have been the first to go. His response also shows he is against getting rid of an anti-American dictator who possesses WMD; supports, trains, and finances anti-American terrorists, and who shoots at our planes on a regular basis. If he thinks letting the countries in that region deal with the terror threat is going to work, why hasn’t it? Obama spent $500 million to train 5 Syrian rebels. This isn’t the Expendables and even they numbered more than 5. Paul needs to check out military doctrine as far as training foreign forces during a war (because that’s what it is). It will require BOG and for our troops to be imbedded with theirs and most likely in the initial phases, having to do some if not most of the fighting.

    Other than that, Trump seemed more subdued. Carson came across as very likeable and thus an easy target for the left. I liked Cruz’s response about appointing justices to SCOTUS. Bush did a good job defending his brother’s decision to remove Saddam. Christie did a good job reminding us of 9/11 and bringing up his own personal experiences that day. Walker did a good job showing how he has stood up to the left wing thugs in this country thus gaining good kudos. Fiorina demonstrated a good command of details. Huckabee brought up excellent points about the 10th Amendment.

    In all, I was pleased with most of the candidates.

  18. 30


    @Pete #15 –

    I can see the dem campaign commercial now….”Bush 1 got us into 1 war in the middle east…Bush 2 got the US into 2 wars there….ready to try for 3? (Cue ominous music riff…)”

    I’m sure there would be an audience for that kind of nonsense.

  19. 31


    @another vet:

    We should not forget that Obama showed his foreign policy ineptness early on with Honduras. The Honduran Congress, and Supreme Court, ousted their Chavez wanna-be president and Obama turned on the Honduran government and supported the ousted president. Now, whether Obama liked that or not, the Hondurans ousted the guy constitutionally (Obama had no more respect for their constitution than he does ours). Then, Secretary Shillary told the Hondurans that if they did not reinstate their president, well, golly gee then, no more aid from the U.S.

    The Hondurans did not back down. And it was clear that Obama was going to be a disaster foreign policy wise.

    Biden said that Iraq would be Obama’s finest moment. How has that played out? The left whines and moans because we took out Saddam and how we should have left him alone. But Obama policies also took out Mubarak and Gadaffi, and the left ignores that and simply goes back to their “but, but, Iraq.”

    Iran has a certain population that is sympathetic to the West. One only has to view the old videos of when the Shah was in place. Women going to universities wearing mini-skirts. Girls in school. No “decency” (clothing) police. Carter took care of that. Was the Shah a dictator? Yep, but he was better for the world stage than the dictator called Ayatollah.

    Consequently, radical Islam has metastasized in the Middle East like an incurable cancer all because Obama thinks he can charm the Imams out of their mosques.

  20. 32


    @Rich Wheeler:

    Syria–Obama should have taken out Assad–Putin punked him.

    Why? Syria is having a civil war; it is none of our business, it is a concern for the UN (of which we are a member). Obama opened himself up to be punked by Putin and, as you said, that’s exactly what happened.

    Had we not opened the door in Iraq to ISIS, Assad would be bleeding himself dry in Syria and ISIS would not be a factor.

    I could not stomach the format CNN created; stirring up the “he said/she said” hope for bickering. But, then again, CNN is corrupt.

  21. 33

    Rich Wheeler

    @DrJohn: Obama drew the red line–Assad gassed his own people–grounds for immediate termination–Putin convinced Obama to back off–Putin now in Syria. Refugees streaming out.
    Re debate Content trumped Trump .How the hell could anyone feel safe with this self promoting charlatan as CIC?

  22. 35


    @Rich Wheeler:

    “Obama drew the red line–Assad gassed his own people–grounds for immediate termination”

    I repeat myself. Rich Wheeler, you sound like a secret Bush supporter. Saddam gassed the Kurds – grounds for immediate termination. How you can do the mental gymnastics to support one but not the other is amazing sir.

  23. 36


    @Nanny G:

    Nanny, despite the way doctors are portrayed on TV shows like House, it is not possible for even the best physician to know everything about every specialty. Carson, now retired, was a world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon, which is not a field for slouches. Paul is an ophthalmologist, also not a slouch field. That being said, their surgical knowledge does not focus on the field of immunology and infectious disease, and immunizations are not part of their medical practice. Sure, they learned about immunization in medical school, but I learned about neurosurgery and ophthalmology in medical school. That does not mean I am an expert in those fields, nor am I qualified to perform such surgeries. There have been all kinds of studies looking at vaccines from the vantage point of dosage, efficacy, timing and frequency and potential negative impacts. There is zero scientific evidence that the current vaccination schedule recommended by the AAP is harmful to infants. The infamous and thoroughly disproven study from Britain that falsely linked the MMR vaccine to thimerosal in the vaccine as causal for autism is still being touted by the antivaccine forces. You can google the editorial cartoons from the time of the original smallpox vaccine to see that antivaccination feelings have been around for over 200 years. Anecdoctal stories of people having bad reactions to certain vaccines certainly exist, but the vast weight of scientific evidence shows vaccines are not harmful, except to those who have egg allergy, or in the case of impure vaccines lots. People died from measles and pertussis in significant numbers before vaccines were developed, and let us not forget the impact of polio before Salk’s vaccine was developed.

    Is there anything wrong with spacing out childhood immunizations? No, not if you discount the lengthening of time that an individual child’s immune system will be naive to wildtype infection, and the increased cost of more frequent visits to the doctor’s office for each individual vaccine.

    I could certainly understand reticence for vaccination in the general public if physicians who advocate for childhood vaccination refused to vaccinate their own children. And for every anecdoctal Trump story claiming autism from a vaccine, I can tell you at least 5 stories of kids who died or almost died from vaccine preventable diseases like pertussis, simply because they were not vaccinated.

    People should absolutely question ANYTHING their doctor wants to inject into their bodies, and refuse to allow it until the physician sufficiently explains what they are injecting, why they are injecting, and what the risks are in a manner that the patient is willing to accept. But patients also need to understand that a physician has an equal right to say they cannot continue treating patients who refuse the physician’s recommendations. None of the pediatricians in the city where I live will accept patients who refuse the standard AAP recommended vaccination schedule for their children. The choice to vaccinate or not is still ultimately up to the parent, but please understand the frustration I and other child-focused physicians have over people who are not experts on vaccinations making specious claims with no basis in real medical science. All due respect to Carson and Rand within their respective areas of medical expertise (after all, how stupid would it be for me to make oversimplified statements about neurosurgical or ophthamological issues as a neonatologist, right?) they both should know better than to have given Trump any support on his inaccurate statement on vaccines and autism.

  24. 37


    @retire05, #31:

    We should not forget that Obama showed his foreign policy ineptness early on with Honduras. The Honduran Congress, and Supreme Court, ousted their Chavez wanna-be president and Obama turned on the Honduran government and supported the ousted president.

    Zelaya wasn’t “the wanna-be” president. He was the constitutionally elected president. Nor was Obama the only one who objected to his ouster: The U.N., the O.A.S., the European Union, the Caribbean Community, the Union of South American Nations, and every nation in the Western Hemisphere as an independent entity, other than Honduras itself, condemned the removal of President Manuel Zelaya as an illegal coup.

    Republicans, of course, immediately denied that the military’s forcible removal of Zelaya from his office and from the nation was illegitimate. Several promptly flew down to Honduras in defiance of official U.S. policy regarding the military coup and posed for pictures with Roberto Micheletti, the interim president. Micheletti was quickly replaced by Porfirio Lobo Sosa, the guy who had earlier lost the popular election to Zelaya.

    I suppose that’s one way to change the results of a popular election. Zelaya was a leftist menace. He wanted to raise the minimum wage in a nation where 70 percent of the population lives in poverty. He had also forwarded a public referendum on constitutional changes involving the establishment of a recall mechanism for unsatisfactory politicians, principles that would hold elected officials accountable to the electorate, and freedom of the press.

    Liberty and Refoundation is the leftist party in Honduras that presently advocates such reform. It’s a dangerous party; dangerous to belong to. Over a 4 month period in 2013, 18 candidates, potential candidates, and their family members were murdered. That would probably fall under the category of preemptive tidying up.

  25. 38


    @Pete: Thank you for your reasoned and thoughtful response.

    Whether you treat a human or an animal, there is an element of luck and the factor of numbers. Eventually, the odds of failure will catch up to you.

    Out of a thousand people, you will have one that is capable of anything. If you treat a 100,000 mammals there will be a few who exhibit bizarre results. It doesn’t matter who you are or how careful you are.

    Excuse the ramblings of an old cowboy.

  26. 39


    @Pete: I am a supporter of vaccinations, but what I think about is the parent that has concerns being forced to have their child inoculated in such a way that has led to problems. Then I think about those rare cases where a child actually develops issues. THEN I think about being responsible for forcing a parent and child into that situation.

    I think parents should be educated on the matter but their wishes respected.

    @Greg: Hey, didn’t Obama support, with air power, a coup to overthrow Qaddafi? (with ultimately disastrous results)

  27. 40



    Zelaya wasn’t “the wanna-be” president. He was the constitutionally elected president.

    Greggie Goebbels, you need to up your reading comprehension skills. I never said Zelaya was a “wanna-be president”, I said : ” their Chavez wanna-be president”. See what difference one little word makes?

    And Zelaya was ousted according to the laws in the Honduran constitution, had you bothered to read it, that gives the military authorization to arrest him.

    Obama, via Hillary Clinton, made threats against Honduras wanting it to replace a Chavez wanna-be president that was ousted constitutionally.

    Now, unlike you, I remember the incident quite well. I also remember that even with such a small country, Obama had zero influence, as did Shillary. And Hondurans don’t shout “Death to America”, do they?

    You always have some excuse, gleaned from left wing blog sites, that makes excuses for Obama.

  28. 41



    And Zelaya was ousted according to the laws in the Honduran constitution

    The Obama administration’s response to this was a huge red flag. How could a Constitutional lawyer, true to his discipline, drivel against the laws of another country’s constitution. Purposely not a question, but rather a statement.

  29. 42


    @Pete #36 –

    A well reasoned explanation regarding vaccinations. My wife, who’s a trauma surgeon by profession, would wholeheartedly agree with you.

    While the decision to vaccinate or not vaccinate ultimately rests with the parents, unfortunately too many people give deference to a TV medical drama or celebrity over their doctor’s advice and recommendations on practically anything medical. One time, my wife needed to operate on a critically-injured patient who was badly hurt in a car accident. The patient almost died because his family wanted to obtain for a second opinion on the necessity of the operation. The family heard on doctor shows on TV about the importance of a second opinion before any surgical procedure. While important, time is the essence when the case is an emergency. When the patient began to code, the family signed the consent forms. My wife operated, the patient recovered nicely. He said, for a minute, he thought he was going to die. She said that wasn’t going to happen.

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