The Fox network held debate was entertaining, raucous and overall more like a back alley brawl than a discourse on the main issues of the day. Clearly Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment of not speaking ill of your fellow Republicans went out the window of what has been referred to as a clown car. The debate was not funny. It is time to put an end to the notion that the candidates for the Republican nomination are clowns. There is absolutely nothing humorous about the candidates nor the deeply felt issues of the day.
The invisible hand of Karl Rove was there, as the first question of the 10 candidates was not for all of the candidates but rather the question was designed to sabotage the number one enemy of the Republican Party establishment, Donald Trump. The female moderator took particular pleasure in attacking Donald Trump.
Normally, in a debate for a nomination each candidate is given the same question on policy but last night in an unusually hard hitting fashion some of the candidates were asked questions on their perceived weaknesses or their prior statements. It made for an entertaining and contentious debate.
The debate format did not guarantee equal time for each candidate to answer questions, so some candidates were not heard from as much. Senator Rubio was asked but a few questions and Governor Christie was not heard from as much either. Governor Christie took advantage of a question given to Senator Paul to be noticed as their was a fiery exchange between the Governor and Rand Paul regarding privacy under the Patriot Act.
A first debate is an introduction of the candidates to voters nationally. The idea is to do your campaign no harm. We shall see how the poll numbers look when the next polling is done to see if anyone gained support or lost support or if things remained the same as the numbers were going in.
Donald Trump had the most air time as most of the action was directed towards his candidacy. Since his candidacy seems to be popular because he does not do or say what you expect from candidates for such a high office. The fact that most of the questions and responses were against Trump it will be interesting to see if the moderators tactics will lower Trump’s numbers and increase his negatives.
The loud and supportive home state crowd and Governor Kasich’s responses may serve to elevate his future numbers. The general feeling was that he seemed genuine and competent.
Paul’s numbers and Bush’s numbers may go down because they seemed less energetic and ineffectual in their responses.
Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee played to their base. Cruz did not say anything to change people’s minds that he is the true believer, a conservative who will not compromise. Huckabee surprised the audience by stating that he supported Social Security, but he was unclear on how he would help make Social Security solvent. Ben Carson had a nice closing statement but was barely heard from during the rest of the debate. Scott Walker asserted that he would not allow any form of abortion regardless of rape, incest or whether or not the life of the mother was at stake.
The debate is around 1 year away from the Republican Convention. It will be interesting to see if a debate held during the summer doldrums of a time so far away from the election will have a lasting effect other than introducing to the nation the cast of candidates that the Republican Party is presenting to the nation. It will most interesting to see if the concerted effort to attack the candidacy of Donald Trump will lower his esteem in the voters eyes. So far all of the attention good or bad has only served to put him in front because of the attention and notoriety. He already has national name recognition as does Jeb Bush. The other candidates have a big task ahead of them and that is to in some way gain name recognition. That can be accomplished in two ways, either by working hard in New Hampshire, and finishing in the top three. Doing well there will get you national press coverage establishing you as a legitimate candidate. Second, if you have a well financed campaign that airs enough ads to catch the attention of the voters. If enough voters do not hear your message your candidacy is dead in the water. The race to the White House is a marathon and not a sprint and the eventual nominee will face some challenges. If Trump continues to take the air out of the balloon as far as national media attention he will be the nominee. If Jeb Bush continues to falter, the Republican establishment may abandon their support for his candidacy and they could very well give their support for another one of the 17 hopefuls. It is still anyone’s race to win.Stay Tuned the race has just begun.