2016 Republicans vs. the media

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

5 takeaways from the third GOP debate.

“Probably in terms of the applying for the job of president, a weakness would be not really seeing myself in that position until hundreds of thousands of people began to tell me that I needed to do it,” he said at the top of the Republican presidential primary debate on CNBC Wednesday night. Republican White House hopefuls took aim at CNBC moderators and the mainstream media rather than each other, accusing the press of left-wing bias and of going soft on Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, during last night’s third GOP presidential showdown. “Democrats have the ultimate super PAC — it’s called the mainstream media,” said Florida Sen.

After tonight’s third Republican debate in Colorado, politico magazine asked the best and brightest minds on both sides of the political spectrum which candidates performed so poorly they ought to call it quits already. Marco Rubio, adding he believes Clinton was “exposed as a liar” last week during her testimony before a House select committee examining the Benghazi attacks.

Those turn-of-phrases and topics sent social media buzzing as 10 GOP candidates for presidents duked it out on stage in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday night. — The leading Republican candidates for president tangled with the moderators and one another in a freewheeling and chaotic debate here Wednesday night that swerved from one topic to another but featured a handful of notably sharp exchanges and breakout performances. CNBC – a financial network accustomed to grilling CFOs on their price-to-earnings ratios — is not especially practiced at staging presidential debates in front of a national audience, and it really showed at a shaggy and acrimonious GOP debate that pit the moderators against the candidates.

The moderators — Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and Chief Washington Correspondent John Harwood — made a bigger target for the 10 candidates than Clinton, as they accused the panel of asking factually incorrect questions or just trying to sling mud. Erstwhile presidential hopefuls Rick Perry, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee have likewise faced the fact that they’ll never sit in the big chair in the oval office. No one seemed to enjoy host CNBC and the over-matched debate moderators — one of whom received that offer of special brownies from the Texas senator. Marco Rubio was one of the dominant figures, getting the better of his onetime mentor, Jeb Bush, in deflecting an attack over Rubio’s missed votes in the Senate. It should have been his breakout moment — a time for moderators to focus on his rise in the polls and for him to make a more comprehensive case for himself to Republican primary voters.

Ted Cruz said the Republican debate stood in stark contrast with its Democratic counterpart, “where every fawning question” was about “which one of you is more handsome and wise?” “This is not a cage match. At this point in the horserace, the debates are one of very few chances left for the candidates at the back to the GOP’s massive presidential pack to pull ahead. Rubio (Fla.) also warded off questions about his family’s financial struggles by saying he did not “inherit” money from his family and can empathize with working- and middle-class Americans. And for good measure they threw in a couple of great “Star Wars” jokes as well. *For those who missed out: Jeb Bush offered the “warm kiss” and bragged about fantasy football while Mike Huckabee warned us about a charred future if we don’t do enough to stop Skynet, or something like that.

The media also became a punching bag during the tense, two-hour debate, which saw candidates shout over one another and the moderators struggle to quiet them. The White House aspirants lashed out at CNBC’s moderators for their confrontational line of questioning about contradictions in their past statements or personal backgrounds. You can even endure a face-plant after you muse about all the “really cool things” you could be doing if only you were relieved of the burden of having to rescue the free world from your party’s right wing. Chris Christie took a shot late in the debate, telling the panelists who tried to interrupt his response, “Do you want me to answer or do you want to answer? …

That attack was so well anticipated and telegraphed with twitter accounts set up, etc., Rubio had to know about it in advance and was able to be prepared. When they did speak, they often found themselves on the defensive — Trump over his real estate company’s bankruptcies, Carson on his corporate board work, and both on the feasibility of their tax plans. “You know, these plans would put us trillions and trillions of dollars in debt,” Ohio Gov.

John Kasich said. “. . .Why don’t we just give a chicken in every pot, while we’re, you know, coming up with these fantasy tax schemes?” Trump snapped back at Kasich: “He was such a nice guy. And he said, ‘Oh, I’m never going to attack.’ But then his poll numbers tanked . . . that is why he is on the end [of the debate stage] — and he got nasty.” The debate, held on the University of Colorado scenic Boulder campus and aired on CNBC, a business-news cable channel, came at a moment of fresh urgency for the Republican field. It will be hard for Carson to convince Republicans that he’s the best choice to cut spending and taxes until he proves he’s got a handle on the federal budget.

Chris Christie had few memorable moments, but all of them can at least look themselves in the mirror and say, “Thank God I’m not Rick Santorum.” All but Rubio, Cruz, Trump and Carson should drop out. (I would endorse any of the last three for GOP nomination.) Bye, bye Bush. It also was a high-pressure moment for Bush, the early favorite of the party establishment and donor class, who is struggling to breathe new life into his struggling campaign. If Bush donors were growing nervous about their man’s chances after the previous two debates, they are likely to be in full panic mode after Wednesday night. 2.

When Carson countered that he’d probably end up with a 15 percent flat rate, Quick pointed out that would leave a $1.1 trillion revenue gap and either require slashing government programs deeply or running a deficit. During an early discussion on taxes and fiscal policy, which is in Bush’s wheelhouse, he was silent as Trump, Kasich and other candidates sparred over their plans. Bush launched an attack on Rubio, who was standing a few feet to his left, by accusing him of skipping out on his Senate job by missing votes to be on the presidential campaign trail. Carson, on the other hand, seemed to argue at one point that there’s not much difference between $2.7 trillion he says his tax plan would produce in revenue and the $3.5 trillion he says the government spends now (it’s closer to $4 trillion this year). There are a few good answers to the question of how the government should respond, if at all, to a drug company charging $750 per pill for an AIDS drug that recently cost as little as $13.50 per pill and could be produced for as little as $1 per pill.

For the first time since the reality TV star emerged as the bombastic center of attention in American politics over the summer, Trump was a supporting player, if not an afterthought. Democrats have their own solutions, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s effort to tie the controversy into an ongoing congressional probe into drug pricing. John McCain’s come-from-behind win in 2008, but that McCain (Ariz.) missed many votes while campaigning. “I don’t remember you ever complaining about John McCain’s vote record,” Rubio said. “The only reason why you’re doing it now is because we’re running for the same position, and someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you. . . . The most intriguing question, and one not easily answered, is whether he intentionally stepped outside the spotlight to counter perceptions that he’s only capable of circus-barker theatrics, or if it was a genuine shift in mood – a chastening precipitated by Carson’s surge to the top in Iowa and in at least one national poll.

It’s not going to be about attacking anyone else on this stage.” Later, Bush had an awkward moment when he joked that he would give “a warm kiss” to any Democrat who supports cutting taxes. According to initial estimates of microphone time, Trump logged just 5 minutes and 37 seconds of spiel, putting him in fifth place behind the pack-leading Rubio, who spoke for nearly 10 minutes in machine-gun bursts so fast the audience craned to catch each word.

Well, there is no question that some people go overboard when it comes to trying to make profits, and they don’t take into consideration the American people. Rubio came under fire when co-moderator Becky Quick asked him about what she described as poor bookkeeping skills, including facing foreclosure on a second home he bought and liquidating a $60,000 retirement account. Even if Trump intended to chill out (he concluded the debate by taking credit for cutting the CNBC stage time down from three to two hours) the nine other candidates on the stage felt less threatened by his presence, and thus less inclined to attack him directly – which cut down on the response time the moderators were obligated to give him. Rubio responded by accusing Quick of parroting attacks of his political opponents, and then recounted his personal story as the son of a bartender and a maid who grew up poor. So what we’re going to have to start doing instead of, you know, picking on this group or this group, is we’re going to have to have a major reduction in the regulatory influence that is going on.

Chris Christie jumped in a few moments later to offer a prescription that required no new regulation from the government but also took into account the possibility that a sudden spike in drug prices could be related to bad behavior in the private sector. “We have laws already. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee lamented stagnant wages and the growing divide between the wealthiest people in corporate America and ordinary working families. Republicans are getting really, really tired of all this wrenching soul-searching and public dissection of their deepening divisions into establishment and outsider wings, so why not single out a universally detested target to get the band back together? Rubio started off the press bashing, but the Texas Tea Party firebrand transformed it from a nifty riposte into a full-throated rebel yell likely to resound for the entirety of the campaign.

Social Security and other entitlement programs were an area of disagreement for some of the candidates, illustrating the divide within the Republican Party about whether or how to reform the programs. To the howling delight of the audience, Cruz roared at his CNBC questioners – including the not-so-liberal Rick Santelli, who coined the “Tea Party” moniker. “You look at the questions; Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? If this country does not keep its promise to seniors, then what promise can this country hope to be trusted to keep?” But Christie warned that Social Security would become “insolvent” in short order unless major changes are made. “It’s not there anymore.

The government stole it and spent it,” Christie said of Social Security funds. “All that’s in that trust fund is a pile of IOUs for money on they spent on something else a long time ago.” Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive who earned wide notice in the first two debates, found herself repeatedly fighting to even get into the conversation this time. So, when he was asked about the redirection from bolstering oil companies to boosting Iowa growers, Carson backtracked. “I was wrong about taking the oil subsidy,” he said. “I have studied that issue in great detail. And what I have concluded, that the best policy is to get rid of all government subsidies and get the government out of our lives and let people rise and fall based on how good they are.” It’s a position that could help Carson with national economic conservatives and in states outside of Iowa. What we need now is a proven leader who has produced results.” By the night’s end, the candidates were effectively tripping over themselves to go after the moderators. It was evident in Thursday night’s debate that neither the moderators nor the other Republican candidates had much interest in tangling with a candidate who is both personally popular and unlikely to win the nomination.

Indeed, it’s hard to see how a candidate with no political experience and a loose handle on public policy could win a major party’s presidential nomination. They don’t sound like particularly effective vehicles for conservative policies or particularly skilled politicians to take on Hillary Clinton next year. And, I’ll do that with the country.” As the candidates rushed into the spin room to slam CNBC, a third co-moderator, Carl Quintanilla, took to Twitter to let off some steam: “I’ll say this much: everyone should moderate a debate, once. Hitting Carson, who boasts the highest likeability ratings in the field, isn’t a good idea just now – as Trump said he “didn’t know about” Carson’s Seventh-Day Adventist Faith. He has a range of support among party insiders, and Bushes have shown an ability to win even when their public speeches and debate performances are lackluster.

Either they are currently polling well (Trump, Carson), are financed well enough to carry them through the winter (Bush, Cruz, Rubio), have avoided harm to their standing at home (Graham, Kasich, Paul) or have nothing else better to do (Fiorina, Pataki, Huckabee, Jindal, Santorum) Christie may feel he got enough applause at tonight’s debate to think he could vault into the top-tier at some point. If he doesn’t rush back to fix his state’s rising pension costs, dwindling transportation trust fund and generally sluggish economy, he’ll be stuck with an awful gubernatorial legacy that would hamper any future political goals. There is an old saying in the public speaking business, ‘Your audience will never be more excited about your material than you are.’ It seems like he is not even trying to get people interested in supporting him, he’s just there on stage because there at least people can occasionally hear him grip about the rest of the field.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Chris Christie all gave strong responses, commanded time, connected with voters and distinguished themselves as worth a continued look. When an effective question stunningly slipped from moderators’ lips, they let candidates dodge and pivot from them, utterly failing to push them to stay on point.

In a campaign season in which moderators have done a fairly effective job at herding the oversized debate classes, but tonight, the media put forward a poor performance. Each of these candidates, even those at the kiddie table, have reached some pretty impressive heights in their lives: They are or have been governors, senators, CEOs, prominent surgeons. They’ve invested months, maybe a year or more of their lives, enduring the torments of lagging campaigns: bad food, bad hotels, cancelled flights, small or nonexistent crowds. If they are now engaged in a delusion that their time will come, they have enough examples in history to fuel that delusion (Even tonight, those who wrote Chris Christie off may be having second thoughts). In 2008, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd—two veteran Senators—and Bill Richardson—Congressman, governor, cabinet member—saw the returns from Iowa and threw in their cards.

The contenders would have a discussion among themselves—no doubt heated at times, pushing and pulling for notice and arguments, but up to them to control, occasionally with the moderator’s aid.

Twitter-news
Our partners
Follow us
Contact us
Our contacts

About this site