Last night, Americans watched the third Republican presidential debate, held in Bolder, Col. Like the other two, many in our community were left wondering exactly what the Grand Old Party is up to, and how their bickering is going to benefit our country.
Don’t get me wrong, this debate was quite entertaining if you were a casting director for a new Presidential sitcom, because the rhetoric was high flying and outlandish.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wants Americans do their taxes on postcards. Ohio Governor John Kasich wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education. Billionaire Donald Trump doubled down on his plan to build a 1,000-mile wall on the border with Mexico, and make Mexico pay for it. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson wants to turn our tax system into a tithing system. Yes, that’s right, like the one in the Bible. And let’s not forget, Jeb Bush, who wants to give a “warm kiss” to any Democrat willing to cut taxes.
I honestly wish I was making this stuff up. While all eleven candidates claimed to have policies that will benefit the lives working Americans, their rhetoric just doesn’t match up. For example, when former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was asked about raising the minimum wage, she made it very clear that government should not be in the business of mandating wage, and thus we must abolish the minimum wage completely. While this position sounds good in theory, the minimum wage is one of the few policies in this country that has worked to level the playing field and force corporations to pay their workers decently.
As millions of fast-food workers, Wal-Mart workers, and even, adjunct professors are fighting to raise wages to $15 an hour, you would think that candidates who are running for the presidency of the United States would hear their cry, but this debate proves that the GOP just doesn't care.
With all of that criticism aside, there were a couple of stand out moments that are worth mentioning:
Marco Rubio: After receiving a fair amount of criticism for not showing up for votes in the United States Senate, Marco did an exceptional job. Out of all the candidates on stage, Rubio used the debate to cast himself, via his personal story, as a candidate who understood middle-class concerns about student debt and income inequality. He also used the debate to take down his former mentor and fellow Floridian, Jeb Bush. During an almost two-minute exchange, Rubio blunted an entire line of questioning about his withdrawal from the daily work of the Senate, shouting down a Bush attack and rising above his dismal Senate attendance record. Rubio's performance makes him quite a contender for the GOP nomination and the presidency of the United States.
Ted Cruz: While many of his policies seem unrealistic and absurd, his performance was pretty good. His country twang and smooth tune was easy to understand and pleased the far-right leaning audience. And instead of taking on his opponents, he rose above the fray and decided to attack the media by answering a tough question from the moderator with the following answer, "Let me say something at the outset. The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media.
"This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions — Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues," Cruz said. This was the best line of the evening.
Chris Christie: Not known for great debate performances, Governor Chris Christie was pretty good last night. He answered the questions with substance, avoided attacking his fellow GOP colleagues, and even took an opportunity to accept that fact climate change is man-made and real.
Here is the truth – the GOP race is full of excitement and this debate showed it. You will hear pundits and prognosticators blame the media and the moderators for being unfair, just know that they are wrong. The moderators asked the tough questions and tried to push the candidates to answer honestly. Unfortunately, they were not experienced or respected enough to play referee with the candidates. Candidates used this to their advantage, attacking the media to avoid answering questions, which was exceptionally pleasing to the right-leaning audience.
After this debate, one thing remains true: this field is still wide open. Carson and Trump might be at the top for now, but don’t sleep on Rubio and Cruz. Also, Rubio could pose quite a challenge to Hillary Clinton should she win the nomination.