Republican sympathiser Ryan Denning casts his analytical eye over the third Republican presidential debate.
Wednesday the 28th of October saw the third Republican presidential debate, and much like the previous two, it delivered controversy and talking points in abundance. Hosted by CNBC, the network was far and away the biggest loser of the night. The arrogant moderators asked only disparaging questions aiming to undermine and provoke the candidates, which eventually led to the audience in attendance booing and jeering the moderators – something I had never before seen during a debate of this kind. The aim of the networks should be to provide a platform for Republican voters to choose their favoured candidate; it is not their role to saturate the debate with their own opposing ideology. The blatant bias shown by CNBC was quite frankly a disgrace and has rightly been condemned across the board.
I am pleased to say that the biggest winner of the night was Ted Cruz. He was the first candidate to highlight the impartiality of the hosts, beginning his attack by explaining how “the questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.” He received a rapturous applause from the audience for his tirade, and my personal favourite line was when he compared the Democratic debate to listening to the Bolsheviks vs the Mensheviks. He also was able to lay out some specific policies, and the 10 per cent flat tax he unveiled is sure to be a crowd pleaser amongst conservatives. I have long been a fan of Cruz – he is a principled man with a proven record of standing up to the Washington beast. I hope this stand out performance gives his campaign the kick-start it needed.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio was the other big winner of the night. The charismatic Senator batted away an early attack on him from Jeb Bush, silencing him by saying that “someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” That person was certainly mistaken, as Bush left the exchange with his tail between his legs whilst Rubio looked confident and authoritative. His best line of the night also came during his attack on the hosts when he described the mainstream media as the Democrats’ “ultimate super PAC.”
Donald Trump did not dominate this debate to the same extent as he has the last two, which actually worked to his benefit. He was able to avoid any controversy and instead seemed calm, collected, and dare I say it: statesman-like. The man who has caught Trump up to lead in some polls, Dr Ben Carson, also gave a steady if not uninspiring performance. I do quite like Dr Carson but worry that should he get the nomination his laid back style could lead to him struggling to command future debates with the Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Once again Jeb Bush had another bad night at the office. At one point the favourite to get the nomination, it would now take a miracle for Bush to force his way back into contention. He tried to go on the offensive early with a failed attack on Marco Rubio, and from that point he just faded into oblivion. Carly Fiorina also failed to capitalise on a strong performance last time out, and though evidently one of the most skilled orators on the stage, she will need a lot more to convince grass root Republicans that she is presidential material.
Both John Kasich and Chris Christie tried to make themselves stand out tonight, but with little credibility, their animated responses just seemed forced and desperate. Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul both struggled to seem like anything more than bystanders for the duration of the debate, and whilst I do have some sympathy for Rand Paul’s politics, he is simply too radical to ever get the nomination.
Overall it was a fairly entertaining debate, mired somewhat by the partisanship of the hosts. I would like to see the next Republican debate hosted by people who may themselves actually be likely to vote in a Republican primary; that way the debate can be more about detailed policy discussion than infantile squabbling. It would also help if fewer candidates were on stage, as given the time limitations candidates are forced to resort to sound bite answers with little substance. But I suspect a few candidates will drop out before the next debate comes around, then hopefully more serious discussions can take place.