It was quite a debate.
The third GOP verbal stoush saw Carly Fiorina addressed the whole “not smiling enough” thing; Trump proclaimed his biggest flaw being that he is “too trusting” and Huckabee claimed he has no flaws but “ask my wife”.
Many policy issues were discussed including Rand Paul’s concerns that Americans pay far less in taxes for the Medicare Program than they collect in benefits, saying that the only way to fix this problem is to raise the age of eligibility.
H-1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers was also interjected, in which Marco Rubio said he would require companies to advertise for a job locally prior to having the role filled by a foreign worker with the visa.
Trump continued to declare that he needs to be president in order to get America back on track (with his expert negotiation skills), he used his changing the terms of the CNBC debate as further evidence of his suitability. “I got it down to two hours so we can get the hell out of here. We will make America great again.”
Ted Cruz is seemingly okay with not being the most popular candidate and made an odd comment to reinforce it: “If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy. But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done and I will get you home.”
Ok, Cruz, you can be designated driver tonight.
Carly Fiorina continues to be consistent throughout her digital and debating persona. Again, mentioning her “From Secretary to CEO” tagline which resonates with me (Did she steal it from TBS?), while continuing to explain why she is a formidable leader. In this vein, Carly Fiorina also declared that 92 percent of the jobs lost during Barack Obama’s first term belonged to women.
When pressured by moderators to see if Marco Rubio “hates his job” as suggested by some media, his response was, “This is another example of the double standards that exist in this country between the mainstream media and the conservative movement.”
Jeb Bush used this as a chance to flay his former understudy by saying, “But Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work. I mean, literally, the Senate what is it, like, a French work week? You get, like, three days where you have to show up?”
Marco’s quick retort was, “The only reason you are saying these things is because we are running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.”
Jeb then displayed the hereditary Bushian furrowed brow and nervous grin.
I have to hand it to Rubio, while he is my least favourite Republican candidate, he is (for the moment) the most polite whilst getting in the zings. Rubio ruled the Social Media race with over 588 million twitter impressions! Donald Trump though ultimately was the most mentioned on twitter, and it’s worth mentioning that Bernie Sanders tweeted the most re-tweeted tweet during the GOP debate.
Speaking of Jeb Bush, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him when he raised the issue of “Fantasy Football” much to the chuckles across the panel and audience.
Jeb tried to explain that it is basically unregulated day trading. Chris Christie shut him down fast however, with his “We have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football?” Cue the awkward shuffles. Jeb Bush, alas, had the most negative Social Media experience, with 63% negative mentions.
Ben Carson, as we mentioned recently in our PollieWatch podcast, has made outrageous statements but continues to climb into double digits, becoming the main competitor to Trump who, like myself, still doesn’t get it.
A number of jabs were fired at the “mainstream media” with several candidates calling out the moderators for “nasty and ridiculous” questions with Trump even saying, “That’s not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that.” Ted Cruz declared, “How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?” and this feeling seemed to be across the board for all candidates with Marco Rubio even saying, “The Democrats have the ultimate super PAC, it’s called the Mainstream media.”
Even The Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus, was angry at CNBC for how they handled the debate and claimed they “should be ashamed.”
Marco “I’m against anything that’s bad for my mother” Rubio most likely will not win the nomination, but he won tonight’s debate with his great one-liners, while Ben Carson “thanked” his fellow debaters for not falling into the traps intended to get them to fight amongst themselves.
Honourable mention to Lindsey Graham (four-person undercard debate), who tried to make awkward conversation by starting jokes such as, “The only reason I have an iPhone is ’cause I gave my number to Donald Trump. Don’t do that.” Also, referencing Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, he said, “The No. 1 candidate says she was flat broke even though she spent eight years in the White House. The No. 2 guy went to the Soviet Union on his honeymoon and I don’t think he ever came back.”