1- Wasn’t this the best, most substantive debate they have had?
It is a shame Donald Trump decided not to show up. It would be better if the front runner would be part of a debate like this. Whether he can do that remains to be seen, but I would love to see it. A serious debate on issues. Hopefully we will see that before the primary is over.
2- Why isn’t everyone on one stage?
The undercard candidates belong in that main stage. No question about that. They are just as strong. Gov. Huckabee and Rick Santorum are more experienced than almost all the candidates in the main stage. And Carly Fiorina has been impressive everywhere she has spoken throughout her campaign. I would love to see all of them debate on equal footing once before the season is over.
3- What has Ted Cruz done to Chris Wallace?
It must have been bad, whatever it is. The FOX moderator (and a well respected journalist) seemed to be aiming for the senator from Texas. Here’s a taste:
- Senator Cruz, you talk tough about fighting terrorism. You talk about carpet bombing into oblivion. You talk about seeing if the sand will glow at night. But critics say that your record does not match up to that. You opposed giving President Obama authority to enforce his red line in Syria. Three years in a row now, you have voted against the Defense Authorization Act.How do you square your rhetoric with your record, sir?
- Senator Rubio, does Senator Cruz’s record match his rhetoric?
- Governor Christie, you have compared both Senators Cruz and Rubio to Barack Obama, saying that we cannot afford another inexperienced President. You’ve also said that Senator Cruz’s vote to curtail the NSA surveillance program made America less safe. Is either of them ready to be Commander in Chief?
- Senator Cruz, you pride yourself on standing up to the D.C. cartel, but as we’ve seen to a certain degree tonight, there’s a price for standing up to the D.C. cartel. Thirteen Republican senators have endorsed other candidates, none have endorsed you.You — twice last year, you asked for a colleague to second a motion, a routine courtesy on the Senate floor, and no senator would do it. Top GOP officials worry that if you’re at the top of the ticket — some officials — that not only will you lose the White House, but it will tank the ticket all the way down the line.The question is does your style sometimes get in the way of your ability to get things done, sir?
- Governor Kasich, you talk a good deal about your faith. In fact, you say it played a role in your decision to expand Medicaid, and you say that when you meet Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates, he’s going to ask what you did for the poor, not what you did to keep government small.Senator Cruz is on the opposite side of this issue from you, so does that mean that you’re getting in and he isn’t?
- Senator Cruz, change of subject. You called for an end to the renewable fuel standards which mandate that refineries blend biofuels, including ethanol into gasoline. As you well know, ethanol’s a big industry in this state, $10 billion dollars a year.Last week, Terry Branstad, the popular Governor of Iowa, who is in the hall tonight, said that you’re bankrolled by big oil, and that Iowa voters would be making a mistake supporting you. Why should those voters side with you over the six- term governor of the state, sir?
And that doesn’t include the times Wallace decided to debate Cruz “mano y mano.” In one exchange Wallace asked another candidate about Cruz and Cruz wanted a chance to respond. Here is what ensued:
CRUZ: Chris? Chris I was mentioned in that question.
BUSH: No, you weren’t. Your name wasn’t mentioned, Ted.
CRUZ: … Actually, I was…
BUSH: … Chris, keep it coming…
WALLACE: … I don’t think that your name was mentioned…
CRUZ: … Chris, your questions that you…
WALLACE: … Sir, I think — I think the question was…
CRUZ: … What was your question…
WALLACE: … It’s not my question that you get a chance to respond to, it’s his answer.
WALLACE: You don’t get 30 seconds to respond to me…
CRUZ: … Your question was you have disagreed…
WALLACE: … You don’t get 30 seconds to respond to me…
CRUZ: … (inaudible) opening statement.
WALLACE: … If I could go on. Sir, I know you like to argue about the rules, but we’re going to conduct a debate…
BUSH: … Thank you Chris…
WALLACE: … Governor Bush…
CRUZ: … This entire question was an attack, but that’s (inaudible)
WALLACE: Governor Bush, here’s the question — I’m going to ask Governor Bush the question…
“Sir, I know you like to argue about the rules”? Wow. There were more fireworks, but you get the picture. Wallace was Cruz’ strongest opponent tonight.
4. Seems like we needed a more robust discussion of social issues, no?
Chris Wallace did ask some good questions in this area. He asked Gov. Chris Christie about religious liberty and the case of Kim Davis:
WALLACE: Gentlemen, we had a case study on religious liberty just this last summer. A county clerk in Kentucky named Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court ruling, saying that it violated her religious beliefs.
Governor Christie, you said that she must follow the law or be moved to another job that would be in keeping with her conscience. But some conservatives say that that violates her religious liberty.
CHRISTIE: No, what I said, Chris, was that the law needs to be followed. And that someone in that office has to do their job. So if Ms. Davis wanted to step aside and get rid of her ability to be able to do that, there should be someone else in that office who it didn’t violate their conscience so they could follow the law of the state of Kentucky.
I never said that Ms. Davis should either lose her job or that she had to do it. But what I did say was that the person who came in for the license needed to get it. And so if there’s someone in that organization, and it turns out there was, who was willing to be able to do that, that’s what we should do.
But just as importantly, and I agree with what John said. You know, we all have our own individual interpretations of our faith. And here’s the problem with what’s going on around the world. The radical Islamic jihadists, what they want to do is impose their faith upon each and every one of us — every one of us. And the reason why this war against them is so important is that very basis of religious liberty.
They want everyone in this country to follow their religious beliefs the way they do. They do not want us to exercise religious liberty. That’s why as commander in chief, I will take on ISIS, not only because it keeps us safe, but because it allows us to absolutely conduct our religious affairs the way we find in our heart and in our souls. As a Catholic, that’s what I want to do. And no matter what your faith is, that’s what I want you to be able to do.
He also asked Sen. Rand Paul about abortion:
WALLACE: Senator Paul, in May on the campaign trail you, said you didn’t get into politics to fight about abortion. You said you were more concerned about the national debt. Your answer is to turn abortion back to the states the way it was before Roe v. Wade
Does that mean that if a liberal state, let’s say, wants to make abortion legal, that you’re okay with that and what do you say to conservative voters who believe deeply that abortion is murder?
PAUL: You know, I think abortion is always wrong. I’ve supported a variety of solutions, both state as well as federal. In fact, just last week, I introduced the Life at Conception act, which would say that the 14th amendment would defend an individual even in the womb.
But I think on the broader question of religion and politics, you know, I think liberty, itself requires a virtue — requires a virtuous people. In fact, Washington said that democracy requires a virtuous people.
Oz Guinness, the theologian, said that liberty requires restraint but the only restraint consistent with liberty is self-restraint. There’s a lot packed into that statement. But the bottom line is we must have virtue, we must have a religious bearing as a nation. The government is not always going to save us and it’s not always going to come from government.
But if we don’t know right and wrong, I think we have lost our way. I think we become unmoored and I think without the religious foundation that guides us all, I think we have a great risk of going horribly in the wrong direction…
WALLACE: Just 30 seconds to answer my specific question. Do you favor the idea that abortion should be a states’ rights issue and if a liberal state wants to make it legal, that that’s their choice? Yes or no?
PAUL: Both. No, both the federal and a state approach. I have said that we could leave it to the states but I’ve also introduced a federal solution as well. So the federal solution would be the Life at Conception act which is an act that would federalize the issue.
But I’ve also said for the most part, these issues would be left back to the states. So there might be an occasion if we did overturn Roe v. Wade — Roe v. Wade nationalized the issue. If you had the court reverse Roe v. Wade, it would become a state issue once again.
I think it would be better the more — the less abortions we have, so the more states that we have that made abortion illegal, the better, as far as trying to save and preserve lives.
Bret Baier had already asked something of Gov. Christie that had brought up the issue Planned Parenthood funding. Here’s Gov. Christie’s excellent answer:
BAIER: Governor Christie, you talk a lot about entitlement reform and you say that that’s where the federal government can get savings needed to balance the budget. But can you name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all? …
CHRISTIE: How about one that I’ve done in New Jersey for the last six years. That’s get rid of Planned Parenthood funding from the United States of America.
BAIER: Anything bigger than that?
CHRISTIE: Bigger than that? Let me tell you something, when you see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, I can’t think of anything better than that.
5. Is anyone better than Rubio when talking about faith?
You have probably seen a video going viral when an atheist asks Marco Rubio about his rights as a non-religious person. Well he said a much shorter version but similarly passionate defense of his faith last night:
RUBIO: [Y]ou’ve just asked a very fundamental question about the role of faith in our country. And I think this is an important question. I think if you do not understand that our Judeo-Christian values are one of the reasons why America is such a special country, you don’t understand our history. You see, why are we one of the most generous people in the world — no, the most generous people in the world? Why do Americans contribute millions of dollars to charity?
It is not because of the tax write off. It is because in this nation, we are influenced by Judeo-Christian values that teach us to care for the less fortunate, to reach out to the needy, to love our neighbor. This is what’s made our nation so special.
And you should hope that our next president is someone that is influence by their faith. Because if your faith causes you to care for the less fortunate, it is something you want to see in your public figures. And when I’m president, I can tell you this, my faith will not just influence the way I’ll govern as president, it will influence the way I live my life.
Because in the end, my goal is not simply to live on this earth for 80 years, but to live an eternity with my creator. And I will always allow my faith to influence everything I do.