I’ve begun writing this as the debate (Saturday evening) is in progress but I note that Donald Trump started out strong and then devolved into bad behavior and then maybe came back to some civility again. He is coming across better than usual I think.
Well, it is over now, the ABC Republican presidential candidate debate just ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, so I can go to the past tense:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came off as the most enthusiastic, toughest, and prepared. I give him the win.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio without any doubt was the night’s loser, undergoing a withering attack, by Christie primarily. Rubio was a stuck record giving stock answers to any question, in fact the same answer over and over again, almost always having nothing to do with the question.
(Somewhere in my brain I think of Rubio as “Marcus Rubias”.)
Actually Donald Trump scored almost right off the bat when he commented that Texas Senator Ted Cruz failed to directly answer a question.
Cruz, for his part held his own, though.
Ohio governor John Kasich did well.
For some reason former Florida Governor Jeb Bush seemed to have to depend upon the moderators bringing him in, but he gave good answers.
Dr. Ben Carson as usual was on a different planet. He appeared to screw up the opening of the program by failing to take the stage when called and just waiting in the wings, even holding back when a stage hand prompted him to go forward. All of this caught on live TV.
(I am not saying it was his fault — it was all on live TV, very confusing — possibly miscues or too much noise.)
Bottom line, big loser Rubio. Big winner Christie.
Trump can’t really be compared, he being in a different orbit or some parallel universe where normal rules don’t seem to apply, but he seemed a little more measured or a little more thorough in many of is responses. More like a conventional candidate.
Back to Kasich. Really he always comes off as the most reasonable and moderate and probably the most appealing to voters across the spectrum or party affiliations. It seems, though, he is more likely to find himself on the ticket as a vice presidential candidate, if at all.
In his favor he sounds like someone who really is a “compassionate conservative” (as George W. Bush liked to call himself), again mentioning the need to look out for the less fortunate while maintaining conservative government and capitalist economic policies.
And please be aware, just because I call someone a winner does not mean I support him. I am just guessing he made the best points and had the best chance of influencing potential voters. And for that of course I already tagged Christie as the winner. Of course the candidates are looking to the Tuesday New Hampshire primary most immediately — but potential voters heard them throughout the nation.
Strange answer from my winner Christie, though. He said he was anti-abortion, anti killing unborn babies, but would make an exception in the cases of rape and incest.
His position is not unusual but seems in conflict. If abortion is murder, then how does it make a difference how or under what circumstances the life or beginning life was brought about? The poor baby had nothing to do with it.
Rubio said he understood the conflict if a mother’s life was in danger — spare the mother or the child. He said he would sign a bill that had exceptions — I was left uncertain exactly which life he thought more important.
My own opinion is it is a private medical decision the government should stay away from. It is akin, although not quite the same, as allowing old people to die with dignity. Even though it is illegal in most jurisdictions for terminally ill people to be given an overdose of morphine to speed their end for their own comfort, the authorities turn a blind eye. There are other things to enforce.
Even though I know people have genuine passions on the subject of abortion, the reality is it is used as a political wedge issue to distract from other subjects.
I don’t see that Trump ended up saying much of anything of substance. He had the last word in closing. “We as a country don’t win anymore. When I am a president we will win, win, and win”. He does not even give a hint as to how, other than to say he has a history of making good deals. He also has a history of bankruptcy and questionable ethics and poor behavior. And yet he was on better behavior than previously. A little better.
For the most part I did not tackle the issues here. Sometimes the horse race is of the most immediate importance and interest.
Oh, and I don’t want to neglect saying that ABC’s David Muir and Martha Raddatz did a superb job of grilling the candidates and were calm but brooked no nonsense from the candidates.