5 Takeaways from: Republican GOP Debate – Dec. 15, 2015

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  • 5 Takeaways from: Republican GOP Debate – Dec. 15, 2015


  1. Trump is an egomaniac, but that is of no surprise to anyone at this point.

Donald Trump took center stage at the CNN/Salem Radio Debate this Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. In his opening remarks, Trump applauded himself on starting a dialogue about illegal immigration and about defeating China, Japan and Mexico.

“I began talking about other things and those things I am very good at so maybe that is why I am center stage. People saw it. People liked it. People respected it,” Trump said during his opening remarks.

Trump did not address one true policy issue but rather sounded like a middle-schooler running for class president by touting his popularity among his peers.

This is not a new Trump tactic. The front runner has often validated his radical perspectives by stating that people support him and agree with his absurd policies. Following his comments about banning Muslims from entering the United States, Trump stated in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel: “I have many, many friends who are Muslim and they’re great people, and some of them, not all of them … but many of them called me and they said, ‘You know what, Donald? You’re right. We have a problem.'”

Later in the debate, when attacked by Jeb Bush, Trump said, “Well let’s see, I am at 42 percent and you’re at 3, so, so far I’m doing better.”

Rather than actually addressing any issues, Trump just reminded Bush to “look at the polls.” Trump’s whole campaign is based on one marketing strategy: Trump is the richest and smartest and best candidate in the world and the American people will see that, no matter what ludicrous things he does or says.


  1. Senator Rand Paul showed once again that he does not fit in the Republican Party.

In this debate about national security, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul stood out against the other eight candidates, who have suggested solutions to Daesh such as carpet bombing and an all-out war. Paul admonished the American people to not overreact and said that “we defeat terrorists by showing them we don’t fear them.”

During his opening remarks, he attacked Trump for trying to “close that internet thing” by comparing his policies to those in North Korea and in China. He then criticized Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s support of metadata collection. Paul has consistently tried to fight the Patriot Act by citing it as a violation of the Bill of Rights and the right to privacy.

Paul further critiqued Trump’s “ban on Islam” and censorship. He stated that regime change from the secular dictatorships have not been successful and have only promoted more radical Islamic behavior. Paul made it clear that he wanted only Arab boots on the ground, rather than American.

However, these positions only isolate him from the Republican Party. While his libertarian views have separated him from other candidates in the past, his more moderate foreign policy has only further marginalized him in the race. Ultimately, Paul has not connected with the Republican voters, which is apparent in his position in the polls.


  1. Former Governor Jeb Bush had the moment political pundits have been waiting for but it may be too little, too late.

Before every debate, many political analysts comment that Jeb Bush must have a good showing to prove he is a viable candidate. However, by the fifth debate, Bush had yet to truly gain any support and was polling at about four percent. Coming into the debate, no one had high expectations for Bush but he surprisingly showed some fervor and excitement as he challenged Trump.

“Donald is great at the one-liners, but he’d be a chaos candidate and he’d be a chaos president,” Bush said in response to Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from immigrating to the United States.

During the second hour of the debate, Bush continued to attack the frontrunner by saying “you can’t insult your way to the presidency.”  

However, while this was Bush’s best performance so far, he may not have done enough to secure his position as a top moderate candidate, according to Jennifer Rubin, a conservative blogger for the Washington Post.

Jeb Bush has raised $133 million dollars so far and yet that has not done much for his campaign. To prove himself as a reliable, moderate candidate, Jeb Bush will need much more than one good debate performance.


  1. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz quarrelled and Chris Christie got a good punchline out of it.

The two fourty-four year old senators currently vie to be the leading non-Trump candidate and Tuesday night they both showed they could talk about real policy issues. Cruz, who has been hesitant on taking on Trump, abstained from fighting the frontrunner but rather focused on debating Rubio, arguably his most serious competitor in the race.

Rubio and Cruz debated everything from the National Security Agency’s metadata program to the Defense Authorization Act to regime change in Syria. Rubio has shared his support for the metadata program as well as the Defense Authorization Act while Cruz has not supported either.

Cruz also criticized Rubio for supporting “amnesty” in immigration, and Rubio responded by stating that Cruz had not ruled out thus far legalization of immigrants who were already in the country. This prompted Cruz to retreat even further to the right by finally stating “I have never supported legalization, I have never supported legalization, and I do not intend to support legalization.”

Governor Christie used this quarrelling as an opportunity to interject and to speak about his comparative effectiveness as a president. If your eyes are glazing over like mine, this is what it’s like to be on the floor of the United States Senate,” Christie said. “I mean, endless debates about how many angels on the head of a pin from people who’ve never had to make a consequential decision in an executive position. The fact is, for seven years, I had to make these decisions after 9/11.”


  1. All the candidates portrayed America as a crippled, weak country that they personally could make strong again.

Fear dominated the debate as each of the candidates strove to portray America weakened by seven years of the Obama administration.

During the two hours of the debate, Ben Carson said America had cancer; Marco Rubio said our allies no longer trust us; Ted Cruz said America is at war with radical Islam; Lindsey Graham said that another 9/11 is coming; Chris Christie said that everywhere is a target for terrorists, etc.

Irrespective of how they described the crippled state of America, each candidate assured voters that he or she was the candidate to “make America great again,” to steal from Trump.

In this national security debate, the real winner was fear. Michael Grunwald, a journalist for Politico, wrote, “There’s a fine line between covering anxiety and creating it.”

Watch the debate here.

Commentaries are the expressed opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of The Fourcast staff, its adviser or any member of the Hockaday community.


Mary Orsak

Mary is an avid bibliophile, politico and a lover of law and crime TV shows.

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