The Best Attacks From the Las Vegas GOP Debate

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Debate attacks on Ted Cruz a preview of things to come.

The latest polls showing Donald Trump with his biggest lead yet — 38 percent in the new Washington Post-ABC poll — have Republican leaders fussing about what the party will do if “The Donald” becomes their nominee. Longshot presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Wednesday took a victory lap just hours after the latest GOP 2016 presidential debate, in which he frequently and furiously tangled with front-runner Donald Trump. “I did think the debate was great.The Republican presidential candidates’ fifth debate focused on national security and included misleading claims on terrorism, immigration and foreign oil. • Former Florida governor Jeb Bush misconstrued the words of businessman Donald Trump in claiming that Trump said that “ISIS was not our fight” and that “ISIS was not a factor.” • Sen.At one point during the gleefully principle-free Republican debate in Las Vegas, on Tuesday night, Hugh Hewitt, one of the moderators, tried to find out if Ben Carson had what it took to be President.(CNN)Donald Trump may have given Ted Cruz a pass at Tuesday night’s Republican debate, but the rest of his primary challengers do not appear ready to let him off the hook so easily.

As the Republican horse race approaches a holiday season slow down, Cruz’s campaign is moving to maximize his two fundamental advantages over the GOP field: his money and the map. The temperature goes up little by little, and so gradually, that the frog doesn’t even notice — until eventually the water boils and it’s cooked to death. Marco Rubio cosponsored in 2013 would have allowed the president to admit refugees without “any background checks whatsoever.” And Cruz claimed that the FBI director told Congress “they cannot vet [Syrian] refugees.” That’s not exactly what the director said. • Rubio and Cruz disagreed over the impact of the USA Freedom Act, which amended government surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act. CNN had designed this debate—the fifth of the season and the first since the San Bernardino shootings—to be about protecting the country. “We’re talking about ruthless things tonight—carpet bombing, toughness, war,” Hewitt said, addressing Carson. “And people wonder, could you do that? Nevertheless, Bush repeatedly went after Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the U.S., tangling with the mogul on several occasions and offering viewers an exciting reprieve from the mostly dull debate. “I won’t get my information from the shows.

The turn toward national security seemed to suit Bush, whose core message was that Trump was a “chaos candidate” who would be a “chaos president.” Trump got in his usual barbs about Bush’s poll numbers and energy level, and some surely stung. “You’re a tough guy, Jeb, you’re real tough,” Trump told his rival. “Well let’s see, I am at 42 percent and you’re at 3, so, so far I’m doing better.” But Bush didn’t seem fazed and stuck to a consistent strategy of attacking Trump’s proposals on raw efficacy, rather than principle. And on Thursday, Cruz will kick off a 10-city, seven-day national tour meant to reinforce that Cruz is not an Iowa-only candidate, with Cruz touching down in Super Tuesday states from Minnesota to Oklahoma. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning,” Bush said in response to a question over why he felt he was better equipped than Trump to deal with international figures like Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lindsey Graham repeated the claim that the U.S. spends $350 billion “to buy oil from people who hate our guts.” Thirty-seven percent of those oil imports in 2014 came from Canada, with another 9 percent from Mexico. • Former senator Rick Santorum was incorrect in claiming Muslim immigration to the U.S. has doubled since 9/11. Could you wage war as a Commander-in-Chief?” “Well, interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them, ‘We’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor,’ ” Carson said. “They’re not happy about it, believe me. Most notably, he argued that a Muslim travel ban would alienate Muslim allies abroad who are needed to fight ISIS rather than raise concerns about discrimination or religious freedom. But between now and the next time that Republicans debate in South Carolina in mid-January, Cruz is likely to be a constant target by his GOP rivals unwilling to let Cruz ride into Iowa.

In August, Trump had said he received his military and foreign policy advice by watching Sunday morning political talk shows. “Jeb Bush had a tough night at the debate. Trump, for his part, helped make Bush’s case by stumbling on a question about how he would manage the nuclear trident (America’s land/sea/air nuclear strike capability). Thanks to early endorsements from two Hawkeye State conservative kingmakers, Cruz is leading recent Iowa polls with less than 50 days to go until the caucuses. But, later on, they love me.” That made Carson smile, and he paused to wave a hand at Donald Trump, adding, “I sound like him.” Trump, and the audience, loved it. Whether that is Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Ben Carson, the one thing Republican voters seem sure about this year is that they don’t want anyone who their party’s leadership could find acceptable.

And yet, amazingly enough, the slow-motion train wreck that’s been playing out over the past five months of the GOP primary process has put these two candidates in first and second place. He used the opportunity to remind Republican primary voters that the Florida senator had supported a “massive amnesty plan” that put U.S. national security at risk.

Chris Christie, meanwhile, also doubled down on many of the comments he made Tuesday, calling the ongoing dispute in the Middle East “World War III.” “The problem for folks like Sen. Rubio shot back that their current positions were similar given that Cruz had for months refused to rule out eventual legal status for undocumented immigrants (although not citizenship). This is a government so intent on maintaining its myths no matter how glaring the realities that it can’t even bring itself to speak honestly about an ideology that wants desperately to end our civilization through violence. That was the furthest Cruz had gone and it appeared to tie him decisively in the “self-deportation” strategy Mitt Romney backed in 2012 en route to a 27 percent showing with Latino voters. Rubio’s team accused Cruz of hedging again, focusing on the word “intend,” but Cruz’s campaign chair Chad Sweet confirmed to the press afterward that the issue was settled. “Sen.

A month ago, Cruz distanced himself from his previous plans to dramatically increase the number of high-skilled legal immigrants the U.S. accepts each year, a proposal loudly criticized by some in the conservative movement. Rand Paul attacked Christie for his aggressive rhetoric, saying that, “I think if you’re in favor of World War III, you have your candidate.” “The rules of engagement would be very clear,” he said. “If they go into our no-fly zone after we have warned them to stay out, then they would be shot down.

Even as summer stretched into fall, they kept comforting themselves by saying that it’s still early — accurately pointing to the fact that early polls have frequently been wrong in the past, and that outsider candidates like Trump have lost in the past. Far too many members of the Republican establishment want to tell us — to tell themselves — not to worry, that things will be fine, for us … and for them. But Hewitt needed to know: “Can you be as ruthless as Churchill was?” Carson said that he preferred words like “tough” and “resolute,” but he didn’t dispute the premise of Hewitt’s brutality litmus test. Much of the pre-debate coverage focused on an expected conflict between Trump and Cruz, who Trump attacked as a “maniac” in the Senate this week and criticized for talking behind his back at a fundraiser in which Cruz questioned his “judgment” on foreign policy. “Let me just say that I have gotten to know him over the last three or four days. Trump said he would be happy to let ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Russia, duke it out, while the U.S. took on ISIS in Iraq.

The recent posture on the issue hasn’t satiated Rubio or his allies, who for weeks have emailed reporters with daily research on Cruz’s past votes to curtail the phone collection powers of the National Security Agency or previous statements that do not line up with Cruz’s current hardline stances toward ISIS. We’ll let readers decide if that amounts to saying ISIS is “not our fight,” but it is inaccurate to say that Trump’s comment was that ISIS is “not a factor.” Bush was making the point that Trump displayed a “lack of seriousness” as a presidential candidate and cited the comments Trump made about ISIS in late September as an example. Chuck Schumer, S. 744, would have authorized the president, under Section 3403, to declare certain groups with common characteristics refugees for special humanitarian purposes. Chris Christie said Washington candidates like Cruz chose to “talk like they were bystanders.” And former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina blasted “first-term senators who’ve never made an executive decision in their life.” In the weekend before the Vegas showdown, Trump sent foreboding signals at Cruz that he would hit him — hard — after audio leaked that the Texas senator had questioned the billionaire businessman’s judgment at a private fundraiser. In order to qualify for refugee status, individuals would only have to prove that they were a member of the refugee group designated by the president instead of demonstrating, as required under current law, that they can’t or won’t return to their home country because of “persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” “Even if they somehow were found to fit the criteria as laid out (including having a specific vulnerability, justified in the national interest, etc.) and be designated as a group, they would still need to go through all of the same security vetting as other refugees,” wrote Joanne Kelsey, assistant director for advocacy with the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, in an email to “The provision does NOT waive or ease any of the security or other admissibility requirements.

Rand Paul of Kentucky and Trump all criticized their rivals for supporting interventions in Libya before and Syria today to depose dictators, arguing that such interventions opened the door for chaos and radical Islamic groups. “When we toppled Gadhafi in Libya, I think that was a mistake,” Paul said. “I think ISIS grew stronger, we had a failed state, and we were more at risk.” Rubio, by contrast, defended his support for the Libya intervention, which he said shortened an already active civil war that could have produced even worse consequences, and reiterated his call to remove Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. “He has been so brutal toward the Sunni within Syria that he created the space that led to the people of Syria themselves to stand up and try to overthrow him,” Rubio said. “That led to the chaos which allowed ISIS to come in and take advantage of that situation and grow more powerful.” New Jersey Gov. Cruz worked through the weekend to downplay the tension, but Trump and his campaign unleashed a torrent of attacks at an Iowa rally and in weekend interviews, calling Cruz a “maniac” and promising to make Cruz regret his double-talk behind closed doors.

The refugee issue will be solved if we destroy ISIS there, which means we need to have a no-fly zone, safe zones there for refugees and to build a military force.” The unfortunate suggestion was that a goal of military action was dissuading those people from coming to America. It makes the process faster and more efficient for designated groups, but not less secure.” First, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or sometimes a U.S. embassy, refers a refugee for resettlement in the U.S. I’ve fought terrorists and won and when we get back in the White House we will fight terrorists and win again and America will be safe,” Christie said. But that is an instrumental argument, and not one about whether the plan ran counter to American values, or about the Americanness of American Muslims. (Lindsey Graham showed that he knew how to speak in those terms during the undercard debate, when he thanked American Muslims in the military for their service and said of a Muslim sergeant who guarded him in Afghanistan, “He is the solution to this problem, folks.

He had some flubs: At one point he talked about his plan to work with “King Hussein” of Jordan, who is dead and has been replaced by King Abdullah II. Don’t worry about it.” Then came the ominous warning from Trump to the man standing alongside him, four words that could foreshadow what could be an ugly seven weeks until the Iowa caucuses: “You better not attack.”

But Rubio actually seemed like a stronger general election nominee than Bush in many ways — younger, more charismatic, with more potential appeal to Hispanics, and lacking a controversial legacy name. But overall he sounded confident positioning himself as someone who had personal experience on security and his argument might fit the post-Paris, post-San Bernardino times for GOP voters.

Appropriately, his debate performances got rave reviews from pundits. “Marco Rubio is the nominee in waiting,” wrote Slate’s William Saletan in November. “Another winning debate performance seals it.” Yet both Republican elites and voters keep stubbornly refusing to rally behind Rubio. Whenever Bush got in a line about Trump—“he’s a chaos candidate”; “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the Presidency”—his features gathered into an expression of smug cheer, which undermined the effect. And though he’s gotten a few new endorsements from GOP politicians (and a couple of billionaires), he hasn’t amassed a particularly impressive overall total.

Rubio is not out of the picture by any means, but the past month hasn’t inspired much confidence that he’s well-positioned to wrap the whole thing up. You can see clear as day in FiveThirtyEight’s endorsement charts that at this point in the nomination contest, every eventual GOP winner for decades had more endorsements than any candidate in this year’s race so far.

That’s not the case in Syria. “The challenge we face with Syria is that we don’t have that richest set of data, so even though we have gotten better, in querying what [records] we have we certainly will have less,” Comey said. Comey disagreed with Labrador’s characterization of the database for Syrians as “obsolete.” Comey said it is a “less robust database, dramatically” than what was available from Iraq, but the intelligence community is committed to mitigating the risk by “querying well” the records that do exist and seeking additional sources of information. Paul also suggested that Chris Christie, who called President Obama a “feckless weakling,” and seemed unnervingly eager to shoot down Russian planes, might start a Third World War. Christie also painted a picture of a Los Angeles where all the mothers wait for children to come home from school while all the fathers are at the office, and promised to speak face-to-face with Jordan’s King Hussein, who died sixteen years ago.

In fact, the Senate immigration bill that Rubio co-sponsored in 2013 (but has since distanced himself from) includes numerous border security measures including the construction of hundreds of miles of border fencing and thousands of new border patrol agents. John Kasich was dismayed that “they have a climate conference over in Paris—they should have been talking about destroying ISIS!” Who were the moderates in this debate? According to Paul, Rubio “thinks he wants to be this, ‘Oh, I’m great and strong on national defense.’ But he’s the weakest of all the candidates on immigration. Although there were many contenders, the prize for ahistorical gobbledygook should probably go to Marco Rubio, who said, “In 2013, we had never faced a crisis like the Syrian refugee crisis now. He is the one for an open border that is leaving us defenseless.” Paul has criticized Rubio for his one-time support of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which included a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

The Washington Post’s Matea Gold and Robert Costa shed some light on this in a report last month, writing that GOP financiers are reluctant to do much against Trump for these two reasons. Whatever Rubio thinks the essential distinction is, refugees fleeing wars have been arriving in America since before Marx wrote “The Communist Manifesto.” Many of them professed faiths, wore clothing, or spoke languages that at first set them apart. The immigration plan that Rubio currently espouses on his campaign website outlines a departure from a comprehensive plan to one that begins with better border enforcement. “The first step must be enforcement measures that are effective and verifiable,” Rubio states. “Such measures would include securing the most vulnerable and most trafficked sectors of the southern border, mandatory E-Verify and the full implementation of an entry-exit tracking system.” Then, he said, the country should transition from a family based system to one that prioritizes “merit-based, high-skilled immigration.” None of that is consistent with an open-border policy. There’s a mix of facts and opinions here: Cruz is right that the old program — in which the government collected bulk phone call data from phone companies — only affected a percentage of phone numbers. The government can’t request information based on a zip code, or ask for everything from a certain carrier, and it must demonstrate “reasonable” suspicion that the matter concerns terrorist activity.

The legislation, which became law in June and was implemented in late November, also included provisions for increased transparency, requiring the disclosure of proceedings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — unless they could affect national security. Cruz said that “the old program covered 20% to 30% of phone numbers,” and it’s true that major news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, reported in February 2014 that the bulk collection wasn’t rounding up even half of Americans’ phone records. Rubio said the recent legislation took away “a valuable tool,” but whether it’s more valuable to collect bulk records or have a process to request specific records is a matter of opinion.

And most of that came from Saudi Arabia, which just announced it has formed a coalition of 34 Muslim nations to fight terrorism and counter Islamic extremism. U.S. refiners paid an average of $41.61 per barrel for imported oil in October, close to half the $82.75 price paid a year earlier, according to the EIA. In his closing statement, Santorum said “10 years ago I put the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program.” As we have written before, that’s an overstatement. As the CRS report documents, there were more sanctions in later years that were put in place by legislation and executive orders — so for Santorum to describe his legislation as “the sanctions” is also a stretch.

The FBI is currently investigating what — if anything — the mother of Syed Farook knew prior to the mass shooting on Dec. 2 that officials say was the work of Syed and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, who later died in a shootout with police. “Obviously, it’s something that we’re looking at very, very closely,” U.S. But so far officials have not brought any charges or made any accusation against the mother, whose lawyer says that his client didn’t know what her son was planning.

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