January 15, 2016 live-blogging GOP debate
9:07 Kasich preaches old-time Republican religion. Solid but unimpressive.
9:09 Moderator asks when “should President use military force to restore order?” When was the last time US military force succeeded in restoring order? Boo, moderator. Christie responds by attacking Hillary Clinton. After being forced to sort of answer question, Christie gives appropriately vague answer.
9:12 Bush hits Obama on ISIS, says America’s “leadership is necessary for peace and stability.” “Leadership”= another meaningless platitude. Says he will “have the back of the military” blah blah. Says Clinton would continue down path of “Iran, Benghazi, Dodd-Frank…” Dodd-Frank? Like the other Bushes, Jeb has issues with coherence. Good hit on Clinton’s legal troubles though, suggesting that those might weigh her down.
9:15 Rubio says “Hillary Clinton is disqualified from being Commander-in-Chief”. Um, no- the voters decide that, not him. Rubio sounds a little more fiery than usual, even though he’s not saying anything interesting.
Unlike Megyn Kelly, the Fox moderators are serving up softballs.
9:17 Carson says President doesn’t realize war is different in 21st century. I think that criticism would be better directed at neocons who like to invade countries with conventional wars. Tails off with nonsense about omnipotentence of US military. Even if he’s not always sensible, at least he sounds woken up.
9:20 Trump has a point about refugees, but he could be much more coherent. He should have mentioned Cologne. Still gets applause.
9:21 Cruz finally gets tough question about Goldman Sachs loans. Cruz turns it into a “paperwork error”. I’m not convinced, but maybe audience is. It seems to me that the real story is that after claiming to be Mr. Anti-Establishment, Cruz is getting loans from Goldman Sachs, which sounds pretty Establishment to me.
9:28 Cruz get hits on “natural born citizen” issue. (Is Fox biased against Cruz? As GOP house organ would make sense that they are on Rubio’s team). Cruz responds: “Its nice that we are looking at important topics this interesting.” Gets crowd on his side. Points out that Trump saw no issue in September, and says McCain just like him (child of US citizen born abroad). Cruz sounds masterful. Says to Trump: “I’m not going to use your mother’s birth against you.” Crowd goes wild.
9:33 Trump turns birth issue into electability issue. Witty response. But I think that instead of saying the Dems would bring a suit (which I doubt the Court would be interested in), he should have said that they’d be using the issue in attack ads.
9:35 Rubio: “I hate to interrupt this episode of Court TV, but…” (nice work!) but then silly attacks on Obama blah blah blah. But people like it.
9:38 In response to Gov. Haley’s statement about “anger”, Trump says he’s angry because country run badly
9:39 In response to question about negative ads, Rubio goes after Obama. He seems threatened by Christie, saying Christie supports same positions as Obama.
9:41 Christie spanks Rubio- says two years ago, Rubio called HIM a good conservative etc
9:43 Jeb plays peacemaker.
9:45 Kasich has keen grasp of obvious- people concerned about economy. Yawn.
9:48 Carson fearlessly comes out for “right and wrong.” Gets applause for pious platitude.
9:54 Jeb deflects gun control, pointing out that Fla puts people in prison for a long time if they commit crimes with guns. (Sounds good, don’t know if its true). Mentions mental health- but when did GOP care about mental health?
9:55 Trump panders to NRA. I don’t think he believes this stuff.
OMG- Trump actually mentions deinstitutionalization, something very few politicians in either party are against. Though I doubt he has any idea what to do about it.
9:57 Rubio says criminals steal guns. Maybe, but they steal their guns from law abiding gun owners.
9:58 Rubio is doing well with red meat.
9:59 Christie asked about his support of some gun laws. Says we’ve made it easier to have concealed carry permit.
10:01 Cruz says Obama appoints liberals.
10:03 Cruz says everyone knows what “New York values” are. They are pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage. Wish America’s Mayor was running to take his head off. Gets off on bad start, but uses Trump’s own words against him.
10:05 Trump: “Conservatives do come out of Manhattan, including William F. Buckley and others.” YES!
Trump invokes 9/11 – but Cruz steals his thunder by joining in the applause. I think Cruz knows he went too far, and walked it back with that gesture.
10:08 Jeb dances to Saudis’ tune. Does being a conservative mean you have to be in the tank for the nation that gave us the 9/11 hijackers?
10:11 Kasich incoherent. He says we have to back Saudi Arabia but tell them to knock off supporting radical clerics. I’m glad he’s aware of the radical cleric problem, but if you promise to support Saudi Arabia no matter what, how can you get them to do anything? This guy is still stuck in a permanent Sept. 10, 2001.
The threat to Jews all around the world, and to the West generally, isn’t the Iranian army. Its freelance jihadists (and ISIS but only because it inspires them). And who else creates the freelance jihadists? Saudi Arabia.
10:17 Re ISIS, Carson says trust the military, which sounds to me like “I don’t know.” Also says a bunch of things that probably would make Obama say sarcastically “Gee, I never thought of that.”
10:18 Christie blathers about no fly zone in Syria. Says you can’t have peace in Syria with Assad in charge- presumably there’d be more peace with no one in power. Like overthrowing local dictators worked SOOOOOO well in Iraq. Says we are going to bring Arab countries together (like they care? seriously?).
10:20 Trump says political correctness blah blah blah. “Indonesia bomb bomb bomb”- sounds like it could be a song. Mentions his “Muslim friends” (who live in a phone booth somewhere I suspect). “We can’t be the stupid country anymore”.
10:22 Bush points out that the Kurds are our strongest allies and how come they can’t be in our country. I have to admit the man has a point.
10:23 Bush says make it harder for people who’ve been in Syria to come into the USA.
10:25 Trump: “there’s something going on and its bad.”
10:25 Kasich wants to bring back George H.W. Bush coalition in First Gulf War. Such pre-9/11 thinking.
10:27 Kasich, Christie all come out against Syrian refugees. I’m surprised no one was mentioned Cologne.
10:28 Rubio: Obama has “consistently underestimated the threat of ISIS.” For once he’s right.
10:29 Cruz points out that two Iraqi refugees just got arrested- promises to destroy ISIS. (Nice work if you can get it…)
10:30. Carson says problems can be resolved with “common sense”- just bring in some experts. (English translation: I don’t know).
10:33 When asked about tariff with China, Trump says we put on tariff only if they stop devaluing.
10:38 Rubio makes orthodox free trade argument. Then pivots to the old-time Republican religion.
10:40 Trump gets booed by calling Bush “a weak person.”
10:41 I’m not sure I understand Cruz on taxes and tariffs but he sounds like he knows what he is talking about. He could read the phone book and sound authoritative!
10:52 Moderator describes Social Security as a big problem. No bias there, no sir.
10:53 Rubio accuses Cruz of favoring VAT tax. Really? Cruz crushes him, pointing out all the taxes that his tax eliminates. (On the other hand, I can’t imagine how a 10 percent flat tax raises enough revenue). Parades Laffer endorsement.
10:55 Rubio stays with VAT tax argument, sounds like he’s ignoring Cruz. Sounds like broken tape recorder.
10:56 Christie breaks in- hey, original questions not about taxes, but about entitlements. BASE HIT! Then lapses into Beltwayese about Congress.
11:05 Christie comes out against pot. Seriously?
11:06 Kasich talks about police/community relationships, sounds too non-demagogic to be running for President. I think he would actually be an OK president on domestic policy. Too bad that he’s in the bottom half of the class on foreign policy.
11:09 Rubio sounds more hawkish on immigration, because of ISIS. I don’t know if anything he says is true, but he’s certainly reasonable in saying he’s reassessed his position.
11:10 Good hit from Cruz- radical Islam was an issue years ago.
11:11 Rubio hits Cruz on flip flops. I don’t know who is telling the truth, but Rubio sounds clear and concise. Though being accused of political calculation by Rubio seems like being accused of loose lips by Donald Trump. But Rubio won the exchange by going on the offensive.
Closing statements- Bush has no red meat instinct- what I like about him. Christie talks about what a fighter he is. Rubio throws in too much red meat, going a bit overbroad in Obama bashing for my tastes- but it works with this audience. Cruz sounds like a pale echo of Rubio. Trump had best closing statement, playing to audience emotions by referring to American sailors hassled by Iranians.
My bottom line: no clear winner. I thought Cruz and Trump mostly had a good night, but Rubio was better than usual- not because he has any substance, but he just sounded better stylistically. The other candidates were a little better than usual, but its too late for them (except maybe Christie). No one was worse than usual.