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Liveblogging the GOP Debate

Whoa! Audacious Trump saying he won’t pledge not to run third party if he doesn’t get the GOP nomination. Good on Rand Paul for jumping in and landing a punch on Trump’s chin: “He buys and sells politicians of all stripes, he’s already hedging his bets on the Clintons.”

This might actually be a fun night.

UPDATE: What is the point of Ben Carson’s campaign? He’s not ready to be president, and is so sleepy.

Rubio is vigorous, aggressive. “If I’m the nominee, how is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me on living paycheck to paycheck. I was raised paycheck to paycheck.”

change_me

Good question from Bret Baier about dynastic politics. “I’m my own man,” said Bush, then offered a bunch of facts and figures. I don’t think that he really dealt with what bothers people about the dynastic business.

Megan Kelly brought up ugly things Trump has said about women; Trump cut her off, saying, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” It was a very funny line, delivered with typical Trumpian bombast. He dismissed Kelly’s hard question as “political correctness.” This guy plays very well on TV, I’ll give him that. He’s going to blow up, but it’s going to be a fun ride until he does.

UPDATE.2: Good, crisp response from Chris Christie. Good questions, by the way, from the Fox panel. Megan Kelly hit Walker with a strong question about abortion, and he didn’t give an inch. Great rhetoric by Huckabee on abortion, but it was meaningless — as if we could overturn Supreme Court precedents legislatively.

Rand Paul comes off ornery as hell.

Megan Kelly poses a hard question to Kasich about expanding Medicaid, and how un-Republican that is. Kasich expected that, and had mostly a good answer, but got tripped up by citing statistics.

UPDATE.3: Trump is unstoppably bombastic on immigration. Doubling down on emotion and outrage, avoiding answering questions. I can report that the people with whom I’m watching the debate are loving Trump, and loving him hard.

UPDATE.4: Kasich: people who just want to tune Trump out are making a mistake. Kasich blew the question about how to handle immigration, though, by talking about all the things he did in Washington, none of which had anything to do with immigration

Rubio more coherent, but not much better in terms of offering a solution tonight. Things must be done, etc. I think I see why Trump is connecting on this. He is the most outraged, and his outrage comes in part from the fact that politicians keep coming up with the same “solutions,” but nothing happens. You don’t get the impression from any of these candidates tonight that they will do anything meaningful about it, except furrow their brows.

Except maybe Ted Cruz, who had the best line of them all: “It’s not a question of stupidity [of US politicians]. It’s that they don’t want to enforce the immigration laws.”

UPDATE.5: Hell of an exchange between Christie and Paul over intelligence gathering, though edifying to neither.

I don’t quite understand this point that Cruz and Jindal keep making, that we won’t destroy radical Islamic terrorists unless we have a president who will call them “radical Islamic terrorists.” Cruz says if you join ISIS, we will kill you. OK, fine — but how are we going to do it? More troops in the Middle East?

UPDATE.6: Barack Obama created ISIS by removing US troops from Iraq, said Jeb Bush. This is the lesson he learned from the Iraq War failure? I find it hard to believe a thing he says about foreign policy.

UPDATE.7: “There is no such thing as a politically correct war,” said Ben Carson. So opposing torture is “politically correct”?

Ben Carson supports torture. Disgusting.

UPDATE.8: So … Trump concedes that he exploited the pay-to-play political contribution system, and that’s why he can fix it? That’s a bizarre statement, but I think this is why he’s making headway as a populist: people have the idea that he’s so rich that nobody can buy him.

UPDATE.9:

Well, aside from Trump? I’d say Ben Carson, who is sleepy and way out of his depth, though not obnoxious. And I’d say Rand Paul, who has been the candidate I’ve been most interested in, is a real disappointment tonight. He seems irascible and petulant in a way that’s not helping him. Chris Christie does too, but we expect that from him.

UPDATE.9: At this point in the debate, Rubio and Bush are the two most plausible presidents of this pack.

UPDATE.10:

UPDATE.11: Four Trump business bankruptcies. Why trust him to run the nation’s business? Trump has nothing but bluster and bloviation on this question. Chris Wallace pressed him on a particular case, which lost a fortune for investors, and cost 1,100 jobs. Trump used that as an example of his success, and besides, the people who loaned him money, they’re “killers.”

A priceless line: “This country owes $19 trillion, and it needs somebody like me to straighten out this mess.”

Trump is like the lead character in a Muppet movie directed by Oliver Stone.

UPDATE.12:

True, very true. Alas… . Reader Father Frank comments: “I enjoyed the Christie/Paul sparring match, but I believe Paul has a decent head on his shoulder, and would help himself greatly if he came across less bitchy.”

UPDATE.13: Hey Trump, when did you actually become a Republican? asks Megyn Kelly. “I’ve evolved on many issues over the years, and you know who else evolved over many years? Ronald Reagan evolved.” Good grief.

UPDATE.14: That’s a good question from Kelly to Kasich: If one of your kids were gay, how would you explain to them your opposition to gay marriage? He whiffed on the philosophical side, but the rest of his answer was great, saying that it’s ridiculous to say that you hate people who disagree with you: “God gives me unconditional love, and I’m going to give it to my family, my friends, and the people around me,” Kasich said. Yes, this.

Disappointing answer from Rand Paul about religious liberty and gay rights. I think he’s got the right instincts, but that answer wasn’t worth much.

UPDATE.15: Total dodge by Rand Paul on why he changed his mind on defunding Israel.

UPDATE.16:

Nothing alienates me more from the Republican Party than hearing Republicans talk about war and foreign policy.

UPDATE.17: Poor Kasich. I think he’s probably a good man and a competent governor, but he was just dying on that God answer. I was hoping that he would break out tonight, but I think he’s going to remain dead in the water, in the polls. On his final answer, I don’t know why politicians think it helps them to recite their resumes. People want vision, not statistics.

Ben Carson is not going to be on the stage at the next debate. He’s just not up for this. I think he’s a good, even great, man, but he is not called to the presidency. Give the Carson slot to Fiorina in the next debate.

Rand Paul says, “I’m a different kind of Republican.” That’s true, but we didn’t see nearly enough of that tonight. I don’t think he helped himself this evening.

Chris Christie didn’t help himself either, but he probably didn’t hurt himself, as Kasich and Carson did.

Ted Cruz grates, but for people who like that kind of thing, he is very much the kind of thing they like. He’s going to do well.

Mike Huckabee — man, I miss the Huck of 2008. I like him a lot, but he’s a TV host. He’s not going anywhere. Cruz is going to get a lot of the votes that would have gone to Huckabee.

Scott Walker did nothing for himself tonight, but he didn’t hurt either. He needs to be bolder in the next debate.

Trump is Trump.

Marco Rubio struck me as the most presidential tonight — him, and Jeb Bush. Bush is the Romney of this field. He’s respectable, solid, a plausible nominee, but nobody actually loves him. Rubio, I think, has more fire in his belly. He had the best night.

The big winner overall tonight was Carly Fiorina, who suddenly seems interesting. After tonight, Huckabee, Kasich, and Carson fade. Christie, Paul, and Walker need to step up their game greatly. No one needs to do this more than Jeb Bush; if he were not a Bush, and wasn’t sitting on top of a massive pile of donor money, he would be an also-ran. He just seems so tired, so last-decade.

I was startled by Cruz. I cannot abide the man as a politician, but I think he’s going to go far. When Trump blows up, his people are going to default to Cruz, I think.

So, Rubio. He came across as serious, solid, and fresh.

By the way, Frank Luntz’s focus group started out with a big number of Trump supporters, but Trump’s performance tonight alienated almost all of them. Said he came off as bombastic, shallow, and mean, said these people. “All he did was point at himself and have nothing to say about anything,” said one man. See, I’ve thought this all along, and it’s nice to see others seeing it, at last.

“He showed himself for what he is: he’s a casino owner,” said a woman.

120 Comments (Open | Close)

120 Comments To "Liveblogging the GOP Debate"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 7, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

What Kasich needs to say, presented in a way it can be recognized AS his vision, is “I’m competent, and that puts me head and shoulders above the rest.

Add about three brief talking points as to what he will employ his competence to deliver, and he’s home free.

#2 Comment By Olivia On August 7, 2015 @ 4:27 pm

“Even if this is generally true (and some polls show slightly, but not dramatically different numbers, with women about 5% more likely to be pro-choice), this does not obviate Olivia’s point”

Thanks Panda. 🙂 Yeah, since women’s bodies are the ones affected, they (rationally) tend to vote for pro-choice politicians in greater numbers, not simply to identify as pro-choice.

#3 Comment By JonF On August 7, 2015 @ 7:54 pm

Re: the reason that state now votes solid Democratic is because moderate Republican suburban women switched to voting Democratic- to a large extent over social issues, including abortion.

I disagree that it’s mainly due to abortion or even to social issues in general. It’s bigger than that. The loss of those votes is also due to a “bombs away” foreign policy, and to economic brutalism– fewer women than men are attracted to either bellicosity or libertarian callousness.

#4 Comment By Noah172 On August 7, 2015 @ 7:55 pm

panda wrote:

According to Pennsylvania Democratic insiders I know, for example, the reason that state now votes solid Democratic is because moderate Republican suburban women switched to voting Democratic- to a large extent over social issues, including abortion

And western Pennsylvania, which used to vote reliably Democratic even for duds like Walter Mondale, has shifted to the Republicans. Why? According to our President, it is because bitter small-towners out there cling to their guns, religion, racism, and (my favorite) “anti-trade sentiment”. Note that three of these four are culture war flash points — and since most Republican candidates favor free trade, that can’t be what is attracting western Pennsylvania’s bigoted hicks.

The Republican Party’s stated position on abortion hasn’t changed much since 1980 or so (although its actions at the federal level weren’t so anti-abortion in practice), and public opinion on that matter hasn’t changed much in the same period either. What did change for affluent suburban enclaves was: the end of the Cold War; the decline in crime; the Democrats’ neoliberal turn on economics; and, often, declining percentages of white residents and voters in these areas (e.g., Delaware County, PA, was 71% white in the 2010 census, 80 in 2000, 86 in 1990). One could say that suburbanites are voting Democratic because of abortion, or you could just as plausibly say that abortion has gained more salience with these voters as their previous objections to Democrats faded with historical circumstance and Clintonian triangulation.

We’ll see what happens to the suburban vote as Obama and future Democrats push forced racial integration schemes after the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on disparate impact in housing. Careful what you wish for…

#5 Comment By JonF On August 7, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

Re: Kasich is the guy I fear the most because I can easily see him winning back Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.

I no doubt would find things to disagree with Kasich about, but I have yet to hear him take a position that horrified me. In an ideal world he could be the guy who pulls the GOP back from its losing extremism*, a Republican Bill Clinton.

* Yes, I know the GOP wins off-year elections, or at least the last two. The Democrats did quite well for themselves in 1982 and 1986– and still lost resoundingly in 1988.

#6 Comment By Brother Padilla On August 7, 2015 @ 8:12 pm

Why so many ads for “straight out of Compton” on the telecast?

#7 Comment By JonF On August 7, 2015 @ 8:13 pm

Re: Illegal? No.

How about extralegal? They would be prosecuting people based not of recognized legal statute enacted by Congress or a lesser body, but on the President’s decree. I don’t care how pro-Life someone is– that sort of thing is about as dangerous to our country’s future as a armed nuke. The last executive who did that sort of thing in an English-speaking nation provoked a civil war and ended up losing his head. Creeping presidential power has been a danger in this country since before I was born. In a stoke Huckabee would transform us into a presidential dictatorship where the rule of law has itself been aborted.

#8 Comment By Floridan On August 8, 2015 @ 7:49 am

She [Hillary Clinton] was born into a wealthy and influential Republican family.

I’m not sure how you define “wealthy” or “influential,” but I doubt most people would consider HRC’s parents either. When Hillary was born, the Rodhams were living in a one bedroom apartment in Chicago. Although the family would later move to a home in the suburbs, at best the Rodhams would, by the 1960s, be considered upper-middle class.

I can find no evidence that Hugh Rodham was ever politically influential in any meaningful sense.

#9 Comment By ck On August 8, 2015 @ 10:39 am

“By the way, Frank Luntz’s focus group started out with a big number of Trump supporters, but Trump’s performance tonight alienated almost all of them.”

And I have a bridge to sell you in Manhattan.

#10 Comment By panda On August 8, 2015 @ 1:09 pm

“And western Pennsylvania, which used to vote reliably Democratic even for duds like Walter Mondale, has shifted to the Republicans. Why? According to our President, it is because bitter small-towners out there cling to their guns, religion, racism, and (my favorite) “anti-trade sentiment”. Note that three of these four are culture war flash points — and since most Republican candidates favor free trade, that can’t be what is attracting western Pennsylvania’s bigoted hicks.

The problem with this is that again, Taking Pennsylvania as an example, the kind of rural voters who switched to the GOP are a declining share of the electorate, while the suburbans who turned to the Dems are a rising slice of it. Again- I am not talking values or who is right or wrong here- just arithmetic.

#11 Comment By panda On August 8, 2015 @ 1:14 pm

“I disagree that it’s mainly due to abortion or even to social issues in general. It’s bigger than that. The loss of those votes is also due to a “bombs away” foreign policy, and to economic brutalism– fewer women than men are attracted to either bellicosity or libertarian callousness.

I’d reformulate it thusly: the voters we are talking about have a visceral disgust of extremism- and they perceive GOP as party of extremism- especially on social issues.

[The more hardline comenters here actually allude to this kind of atttitude when they rail against soft-headed voters who flinch at “meanness”.]

#12 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 8, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

Even if this is generally true (and some polls show slightly, but not dramatically different numbers, with women about 5% more likely to be pro-choice), this does not obviate Olivia’s point.

I’ve seen that poll too (the most recent Gallup one, right?) but I think it’s an outlier. There is some year to year fluctuation, but the general trend over the last 30 years is that there is no gender gap on abortion- men have been slightly more pro-choice in over half of the years they looked at the question, and on questions like ‘should abortion be permitted in cases of rape’ men are substantially more likely to favour abortion.

[11]

The question is not how many men and women support pro-choice and pro-life positions, but how many people are being moved by those positions. According to Pennsylvania Democratic insiders I know, for example, the reason that state now votes solid Democratic is because moderate Republican suburban women switched to voting Democratic- to a large extent over social issues, including abortion.

That may be (I know some Democratic insider statisticians who would dispute it in general, though they concede suburban Philadelphia may be an exception), but it’s important to rememeber social issues here =/= abortion. While there is not really a gender gap on abortion, there is most definitely a gender gap on issues like gay marriage (women are much more likely to be pro-SSM).

#13 Comment By ADL On August 8, 2015 @ 2:21 pm

“Rubio…He came across as serious, solid, and fresh.”
>> I still think he’s running for VP. I like the fact that he’s had enough of the Senate after 1 term. It’s the WH or bust for him.

I think that if Jeb’s numbers don’t increase significantly by end of year, he might drop out, throw his support for Rubio and return to FL to run for Rubio’s senate seat. He could work something out with Gov Scott in return for throwing the Bush machine’s support for Scott if he decides to challenge Bill Nelson.

I didn’t watch one minute of the debates, but…
1) the constructive part of me likes Jim Webb & Rand Paul
2) the General Chaos part of me likes Trump & Sanders.
3) if Biden enters the race he’ll be campaigning for Obama’s 3rd term and becomes Ms Rodham’s main alternative for Dems.
His campaign slogan will be: “No change for Democrats; no hope for Sanders.”

#14 Comment By JonF On August 8, 2015 @ 4:16 pm

Re: And western Pennsylvania, which used to vote reliably Democratic even for duds like Walter Mondale, has shifted to the Republicans.

Except for the two population centers, Pittsburgh and Erie.

#15 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 8, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

I’d reformulate it thusly: the voters we are talking about have a visceral disgust of extremism- and they perceive GOP as party of extremism- especially on social issues.

Women are cross culturally less fond of political extremeism (left or right wing) than men, a fact that communists and socialists have been lamenting for much of the last century. Salvador Allende would have won the Chilean presidency twelve years earlier if only men had been allowed to vote. I think a good reason for the gender gap, specific issues aside, is that, let’s be honest, the Democrats are sinmply a more moderate party than the Republicans.

#16 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On August 8, 2015 @ 4:43 pm

For that matter, George Wallace outright won the young male vote in 1968. Nationally, not just in the south.

#17 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 8, 2015 @ 6:23 pm

And western Pennsylvania, which used to vote reliably Democratic even for duds like Walter Mondale, has shifted to the Republicans. Why?

This is a bit like Idaho and Utah. What happened is not so much that the same set of voters changed their minds and attitudes, but that the demography and economy of the states, or parts of states, drastically changed.

Even the rural areas of western Pennsylvania used to be unionized industrial towns, an extension of Pittsburgh and even of Cleveland and Akron and Youngstown. Now, while Pittsburgh has reinvented itself, to an extent, most of those rural areas are high and dry. In Idaho and Utah, mining and manufacturing took a sharp down turn in the early 1980s. Guess what? Without a large, unionized industrial workforce, the Democratic vote dropped substantially.

To some extent, new generations bought into a different set of economic imperatives, and their politics shifted from that of their parents. To an extent, people physically moved out of state, and newcomers moving in had different life and family histories, skills, interests, aptitudes and attitudes.

Then there are those who said ‘Obama had that exactly right. I am old and bitter, and I do cling to my guns and religion, because there isn’t much else left.’ And some of them voted for him too. It was Republicans a thousand miles away who spouted the “bitter gun owner” theme, in their comfortable suburban homes paid for by upper-scale jobs.

#18 Comment By panda On August 9, 2015 @ 12:31 am

“Women are cross culturally less fond of political extremeism (left or right wing) than men, a fact that communists and socialists have been lamenting for much of the last century. Salvador Allende would have won the Chilean presidency twelve years earlier if only men had been allowed to vote. I think a good reason for the gender gap, specific issues aside, is that, let’s be honest, the Democrats are sinmply a more moderate party than the Republicans.

And this is where my point on the contribution of abortion politics to this works: the Democratic way of talking about abortion sounds much less absolutist ,even for voters who are generally pro-life.

#19 Comment By panda On August 9, 2015 @ 12:37 am

But Hector is right about Pennsylvania might be unusual: it rather famously was the only state where the Democratic Senator was pro-life and GOP senator was pro-choice all the way to 2008. Makes perfect sense that Spector Republicans migrated to Democrats.

#20 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 9, 2015 @ 9:07 pm

If Biden enters the race he’s a fool. He’s run for president before, and never gotten out of single digits, because while he was a competent senator, he stuck his foot in his mouth early on the campaign trail for president, and kept it there. He got to be vice president only because he was on the ticket with Barack Obama. He’ll never make it to the convention on his own. He’s notably stuck his foot in his mouth as vice president too, and been an occasional embarrassment to the president — starting the day they were sworn in, if I remember correctly.