The dominant story in the US for a couple of days has been the Republicans running for president. Donald Trump was leading the contenders going into a debate, and during the debate much of the attention went to him. He wants a wall to keep out illegal aliens. He wants to fire all the "stupid" people. He complained of cars millions and millions of cars coming into the US from Japan – although most Hondas and Toyotas in the US are made in the US. He repeated his slogan that he would make the country "great" again. He said he wouldn't be unkind to one of the moderators, Megyn Kelly, and then insulted her. The days after the debate he called Kelly a bimbo and said other unkind things. He defends his bomb-throwing style by saying he doesn't have time for political correctness. Trump has been described as attracting the 'low information" and hit-'em-hard type of voters, and not a serious candidate. But Trump went into the debate leading as the most popular candidate, and according to a Fox poll as of this morning he is still way out in front of the pack with 47% of the vote. Some pundits are saying he will eventually fade.
Second going into the debate was Scott Walker. He is now down near the bottom, with 1.02%. Jeanne Cummings, Political Editor for The Wall Street Journal, has said that Walker "avoided every single question he was asked [and] gave short remarks that were scripted out of his speeches." One of the questions asked and not answered was, "Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion?"
Second place as of today belongs to Marco Rubio at 12.8 percent, moving up from eighth place. Everyone is saying he helped himself in the debate.
Ben Carson also helped himself, moving up to third from fourth. He was witty and soft-spoken. He came across as seeing those who do not share his political and economic philosophy as being dumb. He described many people in Congress as having only half a brain. Being a Republican he might have been describing Democrats rather than his fellow Republicans. He is new to running for office, and despite his intelligence – he is a neuro brain surgeon – he comes across as politically unsophisticated.
Going into the debate, Mike Huckabee was sixth, and as of now he is seventh, polling at 3.5%. In the online publication Salon, Sean Illing has written:
Obviously, like Trump, he thinks the Iran deal is no good, and as such he would terminate it. What would he do instead, you ask? Well, he'd reinstate the sanctions (which would've allowed Iran to continue building the bomb he says we can't let them build). Then he'd just ask the other important countries — virtually all of whom support the deal — to join us in reinstating the sanctions that they no longer support.
Huckabee was right there with the others talking up about his faith. The candidates were asked about receiving word from God. Ted Cruz spoke about following scripture. In case God didn't put things right, the candidates were ready to beg Him to do right as they saw it.
Cruz held his fifth place at 5.6%. He comes across as sure that he has the absolute truth and intensely righteous, to a degree that is actually not very popular among his fellow Republicans. (Note Rick Santorum's standing among the candidates, below the top ten who made the debate). Sean Illing writes that Cruz spoke as though "auditioning for Hamlet" and that he, Illing, was "too busy not liking him to notice what he was saying."
It was Kasich, the governor of Ohio, who made a big climb upward during the debate. He moved from tenth to fourth place at 9.5%. He came across as the most Christian, speaking of the need to have compassion for the poor, and he said he would give his daughter his unconditional love if she became a lesbian. Kasich, as usual, came across as a straight talker and a man with political savvy and experience in Washington going back decades – the experience that Carson and some Tea Party people deride.
Jeff Bush fell from third to eighthf place, at 3.5 percent. He was all platitudes. One pundit described him as wallpaper. Another pundit has claimed it the right strategy, the kind of strategy employed by Mitt Romney in 2012.
Senator Rand Paul, the libertarian and privacy advocate, rose from seventh to sixth place. He showed no interested in joking around – humor. He tangled with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey concerning security. Christie held to ninth place at 2.3 percent.
Not one of the candidates said anything about background checks for purchasing firearms, extreme weather or climate change. What was said, in addition to the need to have faith in God, was the need to see ourselves as one nation. Carson was strong on this point.
People who should get out of the race now (unless they are seeking to raise their speaking fees or sell a book) are: Rand Paul (who is selling an ideology), Christie, Carson, Pataki, Graham, Bobby Jindal, Gilmore, and former governor of Texas, Rick Perry. Carla Fiorina, 13th a couple of days ago has moved up in the polling and she has a shot at becoming the party's vice-presidential candidate. She had an unimpressive showing running against California's Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010, and some of us do not see her as a winner in 2016.
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.