GOP Hopefuls Gather for First Debate of 2016 Presidential Race

The eyes of American political pundits everywhere were turned on Cleveland last Thursday to watch the 17 Republican candidates face off for the first time.  Two debates were held; a primetime debate at 9 pm for the 10 most popular candidates, and another before that at 5 pm which featured the seven other candidates.  The primetime candidates were:

  • Jeb Bush (Former governor, Florida)
  • Ben Carson (Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins University)
  • Chris Christie (Governor, New Jersey)
  • Ted Cruz (Senator, Texas)
  • Mike Huckabee (Former governor, Arkansas)
  • John Kasich (Governor, Ohio)
  • Rand Paul (Senator, Kentucky)
  • Marco Rubio (Senator, Florida)
  • Donald Trump (Chairman and President, Trump Organization)
  • Scott Walker (Governor, Wisconsin)

The other candidates were:

  • Carly Fiorina (Former CEO, Hewlett-Packard)
  • Jim Gilmore (Former governor, Virginia)
  • Lindsey Graham (Senator, South Carolina)
  • Bobby Jindal (Governor, Louisiana)
  • George Pataki (Former governor, New York)
  • Rick Perry (Former governor, Texas)
  • Rick Santorum (Former senator, Pennsylvania)

Early in the primetime debate, Trump was the only candidate not to rule out an independent campaign if he were to lose the Republican nomination.  Paul quickly criticized Trump for “already hedging his bets,” but Trump simply stated, “If I am the nominee, I will not run as an independent.”

On the issue of abortion, Walker stated, “That unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives [to abortion] that will also protect the life of that mother.”  Huckabee was in favor of invoking the 5th and 14th amendment to protect the life of the child.  Rubio said, “I think future generations look back…and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies.”  Pataki is the only pro-choice Republican candidate, but he clarified that he is in favor of protecting the life of the baby after 20 weeks.

When discussing how to defeat ISIS, Paul stated “I’m the leading voice in America for not arming the allies of ISIS…ISIS rides around in a billion dollars’ worth of US Humvees.  It’s a disgrace.”  Cruz explained; “We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism, so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’”  Walker supported focusing on maintaining good relations with the Arab allies with whom the US cooperates.  When asked about how he would collect information from captured terrorists, Carson stated, “What we do in order to get the information that we need is our business, and I wouldn’t necessarily be broadcasting to everybody what we’re going to do.  We’ve gotten into this mindset of fighting politically correct wars.  There is no such thing as a politically correct war.”  Jindal explained, “You can’t send your troops into harm’s way unless you give them every opportunity to be successful.”  Graham went further, stating, “If we don’t stop them [ISIS] over there, they are coming here just as sure as I stand here in front of you.”  Gilmore advocated for the creation of a middle-eastern version of NATO.

Further, on homeland security, Christie stood firm; “You can do it [prosecute terrorists] and we did it for seven years in my office, respecting civil liberties and protecting the homeland.  I will make no apologies ever for protecting the lives and the safety of the American people.  We need to give more tools to our folks to be able to do that, not fewer.”  Paul responded critically, “I want to collect more records from terrorists but less records from innocent Americans.”  When asked about rooting out homegrown terrorism, Pataki stated, “Religious liberty doesn’t include encouraging a fellow American to engage in violent jihad and kill an American.”  When asked about US terrorists hiding in private networks, Fiorina said, “We need to tear down cyber walls not on a mass basis, but on a targeted basis…we also need to tear down the cyber wall that China is erecting, that Russia is erecting.”

On social welfare, Kasich defended his spending by explaining, “10,000 of them [mentally ill patients] sit in our prisons.  It costs $22,500 dollars a year to keep them in prison, I’d rather get them their medications so they can lead a decent life.”  He also discussed aiding the drug addicted and working poor in order to get them back on their feet.  Jindal stated, “We’ve got to stop this culture of government dependency.”  Christie explained his stance on reducing Social Security for the upper class by saying, “Social Security is to ensure that nobody who has worked hard and played by the rules and paid into the system grows old in poverty.”  Huckabee attacked Christie by stating, “Nobody in this country is on Social Security because they made the decision when they were starting work at 14 that they wanted to entrust some of their money with the government.”  When asked how to encourage people to get off of welfare, Santorum responded, “We have to create better paying jobs.  That’s the bottom line.”  He advocated growth in the manufacturing sector.

On the topic of illegal immigration, Bush said, “We need to control our border.  It’s our responsibility to pick and choose who comes in.”  He then discussed his plan, which included eliminating sanctuary cities.  Trump exclaimed, “We need to build a wall, and it has to be built quickly.  And I don’t mind having a big beautiful door in that wall so that people can come into this country legally.”  Rubio responded, “I also believe we need a fence.  The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under that fence we need to be able to deal with that, too.”  Cruz said, “I have never supported amnesty.”  Perry maintained that he has been working to crack down on border security for 15 years.

Walker called the Iran Nuclear deal “yet another example of the failed foreign policy of the Obama-Clinton Doctrine.”  Perry stated, “The issue for us is to have a Congress that stands up and says not only ‘no’ but ‘hell no’ to this [deal].”  Huckabee declared, “We got nothing.  And Iran gets everything they want.” Fiorina made her position clear: “Until you [Iran] open every nuclear and every military facility to full…anytime, anywhere…inspections, we are going to make as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system…When American does not lead, the world is a dangerous and a tragic place.”  Paul, while not opposed to negotiating in general, opposed the current deal and commented, “I don’t think the President negotiated from a position of strength.”