After watching Tuesday’s Republican presidential candidate debate, two things became pretty apparent: Marco Rubio continues to polish his speaking skills and bedside manner, while Donald Trump — the supposed front-runner for the party — had another bad night.
Trump said several things to be remembered (sort of), but the highlight of the night began once the candidate began discussing immigration reform, and how to handle the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants who currently reside in the United States. He compared his plan to one advanced by President Dwight Eisenhower, which moved more than a million Mexicans back across the border. Left unsaid was the rather unappealing name for that 1954 program, Operation Wetback.
“We are a country of laws. We need borders. We will have a wall. The wall will be built.”
In classic Trump style, he found a few minutes to hurl some insults at Ohio Governor John Kasich. Trump was booed after he repeated (more than once), that the governor’s turnaround in his states economy was due solely to a windfall from fracking. He also told America that handling issues surrounding Russian president Vladimir Putin would be easy since him and the president were “stable-mates” during a taping of 60 Minutes.
As previously mentioned, Sen. Marco Rubio hit all of his high notes during the debate, and didn’t appear to fold under pressure once on the night. For the fourth-straight debate, he emerged as the clear winner in the topic of foreign policy. At one point, Mr. Rubio became engaged in an argument with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, about the proper role and cost of the military. Mr. Rubio called Mr. Paul ” a committed isolationist,” after Paul said Rubio’s proposal to spend billions on defense were not the traits of a proper conservative. To that regard, Paul responded that he wanted “a strong national defense, but I don’t want us to be bankrupt.”
“We can’t even have an economy if we’re not safe,” Rubio argued. “Yes I believe the world — I don’t believe, I know the world is a safer and better place when America is the strongest military power in the world.”
Rubio was not required to answer any questions surrounding the controversy over his use of a GOP credit card, nor was candidate Ben Carson asked about anything to do with the controversy over misstated comments about a West Point scholarship he claims he was offered.
His first statement in the debate likely lightened the mood of the crowd, and the moderators. “Thank you for not asking me what I said in the 10th grade,” Carson said as Fox Business moderator Neil Cavuto asked him about the impact of the media scrutiny on his campaign. He argued that his campaign was being held to a higher standard than those of other candidates, especially Hillary Clinton. Carson charged Clinton lied to Americans about what prompted the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, which cost four Americans their lives.
“We should vet all candidates. I have no problem with being vetted. What I do have a problem with is being lied about and then putting that out there as truth,” Carson proclaimed. “People who know me know that I’m an honest person.”
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush returned with an improved performance of his own — how many actually noticed it however is still up for discussion. After his forgetful performance in the third debate, Mr. Bush hired a media coach and spoke with much more conviction Tuesday night. Most of his attacks centered on the current Obama Administration, and the what he believes are the campaign flaws of Hillary Clinton.
John Kasich’s strategy appeared to be a steady stream of interruptions — a strategy that at least for one night, allowed him to force more points and talking time across. His decorum at previous debates has been similar — attack Trump and jump-in, whenever possible. In the debate, Mr. Kasich warned against the “tax schemes” of his competitors that he said would “put our kids in a hole” by exploding the deficit.