ROMNEY WORDSWORTH – The sixth Republican Primary Debate was held in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday night. There was controversy even before it began. Dirty tricks kept Rand Paul off the stage, with the poll results that would have qualified him for the prime time debate being purposely withheld by Bloomberg for a full 36 hours until after the RNC deadline had passed. Had it been included, Rand Paul would be at the same level of support as Jeb Bush. At the same time, I have no idea by what metric John Kasich was doing on the stage. I can guess at the motives, however. The Establishment wanted to make sure the establishment candidates (Bush, Rubio, Christie, and Kasich) outnumbered the outsiders and mavericks (Trump, Cruz, and Carson). Let’s face it: Kasich belongs in the Democrat Primary debates, if you go by his positions on the issues.
But enough of that, let’s get to the scoring:
BIGGEST WINNER: Donald Trump. Trump had four major confrontations. The first was the birther argument with Ted Cruz. While I think Cruz won this round, it was not decisively, because Cruz argues from a legal analysis and Trump argues from a political analysis. Sure, Cruz will probably prevail legally, but Trump’s point is why should the party invite the legal challenge from the Democrats to begin with. The second major confrontation was with Cruz again, over his “New York City values” comments. Here Trump brilliantly called up the memories of 9/11, and the aftermath, and how heroically New Yorkers dealt with this disaster, making Cruz look like a bigot. The third major confrontation Trump had was over his call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration. Most of the candidates agreed with a ban on Syrian refugees, but this merely admitted the logic of Trump’s ban, because the vetting problems are not simply a matter of paperwork, but psychological and cultural. The fourth confrontation was Trump’s plan for a tariff on Chinese imports. The exchange left Jeb Bush looking like an imbecile. When it comes to negotiating with the Chinese, I’ll choose Donald Trump every time. Trump stuck to his guns on the Second Amendment. He seems to be the only guy who remembers we are still in the primaries, and not in the general election.
BIGGEST LOSER: Jeb Bush. Bush did nothing to reverse his low standing in the polls, looked petty complaining to Neil Cavuto that he wasn’t called on much (well, now you know how Rand Paul feels, Jeb), and looked pretty dumb arguing that we can’t stop bringing in Muslim immigrants because we need Saudi Arabia to fight ISIS. I think everyone and their dog knows by now that Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Barak Obama are funding and arming ISIS.
Strong runner up in this category is Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who mutually annihilated each other on immigration.
BIGGEST GAIN: Party Unity. The candidates were much better about remembering to attack Hillary Clinton in their answers, and to acknowledge that ANY Republican would be a better leader than Clinton.
BIGGEST LINE OF THE NIGHT: Chris Christie saying: “You already had your chance Marco, and you blew it” referring to his failure to answer the question on what to do about ballooning entitlements.
BIGGEST LAUGH LINE OF THE NIGHT: Dr. Ben Carson saying he was mentioned and merited a response, and when asked when, he said that Jeb Bush had referred to “everybody”.
BIGGEST GAFFE: Ted Cruz needlessly insulting every voter in the New York Tri-State area.
BIGGEST LIE: Chris Christie claiming that New Jersey has gotten rid of Common Core. In fact, New Jersey curriculum has many common core elements in Language Arts and Social Studies, and New Jersey is still making all its students take the common core PARCC tests.
BIGGEST ASS: John Kasich behaved himself during the debate, and so did the two moderators, Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo. There was disruptive chanting and cat calling from the audience towards the end of the debate, however, so shame on all those Marco Rubio ringers who were bused in.
GRADING THE MODERATORS: Most of the questions were substantive policy questions, but there was a handful of “What do you say about what he said about you” type of questions. I give them a solid B.