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Initial Comments about the First Republican Debate

 

 

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Here is a sampling of some initial comments from various political writers and commentators after the end of the Republican Debate:

Republican Debate Veers between Two Subjects: America and Trump [1] – Washington Post

“Businessman Donald Trump lived up to his sharp-edged reputation during the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign, sparring with moderators and other candidates as everyone else on a 10-person stage struggled to stand out. Trump became the center of the debate’s attention from the very beginning, when he was the only candidate who refused to forswear the idea of running a third-party campaign against the Republican party, if he could not be its nominee. At times, the other nine candidates on stage debated serious policies—immigration, the nuclear deal with Iran, government surveillance, the future of Social Security. And then, at times, the debate veered to Trump himself: a sharp-edged candidate who can say things that would torpedo anybody else on stage. In one of the non-Trump-related exchanges, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Paul (got into a heated argument about the limits of government surveillance during Thursday night’s first major Republican debates, in an exchange that showcased two competing poles of Republican thought about security and privacy.”

Trump Pulls No Punches, but Rivals Sharpen Tone at Leadoff Debate [2] – Fox News

“Donald Trump was the unrivaled lightning rod at Thursday’s Republican presidential debate, but the prime-time showdown made clear he’s not the only fighter on the stage – or in the race. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie reclaimed his reputation as a tough-talking executive, blasting his rivals for their positions on domestic surveillance and entitlements. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul traded barbs with several candidates, including Christie. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, among others, also had their moments. Meanwhile, one-time front-runner former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush found himself on defense several times and largely avoided tangling with Trump on the Fox News/Facebook stage.”

“Perhaps the most fiery moment, though, came in an exchange between Christie and Paul. Long-simmering tension between the two exploded when Christie stood by his criticism of the senator for opposing NSA bulk collection of Americans’ phone data. The exchange was striking, even in a debate that was tense from the start. Time and again, Trump was at the center of the tussles, both with fellow candidates and the moderators. Though several rivals stood out, Trump did not hold his fire, either – making clear he’s not softening his approach to campaigning as he picks up steam in the polls. If anything, the debate signaled the primary race is about to get tougher and is still wide open as 17 candidates vie for the lead with months to go until the opening contests.”

Rivals Jab at Donald Trump as Republican Debate Becomes Testy [3] – New York Times

“Shedding any pretense of civility and party unity, Donald J. Trump overwhelmed the first Republican presidential debate on Thursday night by ripping into his rivals and the moderators alike, but also drew fire from Jeb Bush and others who are seeking to stop his breathtaking surge. Mr. Trump displayed his trademark pugnacity from the start with a bravura moment: refusing to rule out a third-party run for the presidency if he does not win the party’s nomination. Facing loud boos from audience members in a Cleveland sports arena, he held his hand up in defiance as several other Republicans looked flabbergasted.”

“The much-anticipated meeting was something of a showcase for several candidates who had yet to generate much heat in the Republican primary field. Gov. John Kasich of Ohio fluidly described his fiscal leadership in the state and spoke bigheartedly about the mentally ill and the poor. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida showed a command of policy and an eagerness for the fight with Democrats. And Gov. Scott Walker [4] of Wisconsin deftly defended an absolutist position against abortion while boasting of his three statewide victories in his own swing state. Others struggled to grab the attention they needed to shore up their fund-raising or broaden their appeal beyond niche constituencies. The retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas both effectively delivered well-honed talking points and one-liners, but did not leave dramatically new impressions.”

Donald Trump Takes Center Stage but Gives No Ground in Republican Debate [5] – TIME

“So much for the idea that Donald Trump would try to act like a typical presidential candidate. No, when The Donald met his rivals for the Republicans’ presidential nominee during their first debate, it was all bluster and bravado, although the bullying seemed to be kept in check. The fiery real estate mogul unleashed his signature enthusiasm during the debate’s first minutes. He refused to support the eventual GOP nominee, even as he was standing in the arena where he or she should be crowned next summer. He threaten to stop being “nice” to a female Fox News moderator who asked him about sexist remarks. He said “the stupid leaders of the United States” are to blame for immigrants in the country illegally. He said “dishonest” reporters were to blame for taking his comments about immigrants out of context, although he did not dispute any of the videos or transcripts noting he did, in fact, describe Mexicans in the country illegally as rapists and drug dealers.”

“If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be talking about illegal immigration,” Trump boasted. It was the Trump Show. Nine of his rivals were merely bit players. While Trump boasted about his business empire, his rivals were offering thoughtful answers and policy prescriptions. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush each delivered solid performances, yet were eclipsed by Trump.”     (my emphasis)

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