GOP Candidates, First Impressions

Republican Elephant Boxing

I caught bits and pieces of the FOX News-hosted GOP debates last night and wanted to share a few first impressions, as well as additional information about the candidates that might be helpful. I don’t know enough about every candidate to give comments on all of them (and frankly, it’s too early for me to do that much research!) But for now, these are my thoughts. FOX has also put up some choice clips that I will embed in case you missed the debate or need a replay. Those of you who are resolutely trying not to get caught up in the hype, feel free to resist the “Click for more” urge and come back in a year. (But really, you know you want to click. Come on now.)

*Chris Christie is one candidate I would be disappointed to see nominated. The Fort Lee lane closure scandal didn’t endear him to me (read up on that here). Moreover, he unapologetically supports NSA spying.  The most entertaining aspect of the debate was definitely Christie and Rand Paul’s little tête-à-tête on this issue. Mind you, Rand Paul is too much of a libertarian at heart to be my first pick either. (Among other things, he supports the abolition of civil marriage, which is a disastrous idea on every level.)  But sometimes, libertarian instincts are healthy, and he nailed Christie to the wall here.

Paul: “I want to collect more records on terrorists, and fewer records on innocent American citizens.”

Christie: “How are you supposed to know?”

Paul: “Use the 4th Amendment!”

*According to a poll of evangelical leaders, Marco Rubio has a good chance of winning the nomination, and I’m fine with that after what I saw of him last night. He seemed eager to correct Megyn Kelly when she challenged his pro-life record by suggesting he supports rape and incest exceptions. She was probably referring to bills like this, which he cosponsored and which protected pain-capable unborn children with the exceptions thrown in. However, more conservative legislators sometimes have to be content with what they can get when it comes to restrictions on abortion. Rubio seems to be saying he still doesn’t personally support the exceptions even though he’s willing to work with less than ideal legislation if it still places some restrictions. I can accept that position. Also useful to know: Rubio opposes embryonic stem cell research. Unlike…

*Carly Fiorina: Oh Carly. You’re such a tigress on foreign policy that I was already working on a homemade “I heart Carly” bumper sticker, when On the Issues told me you’re not nearly as much of a non-conformist on social issues. On the one hand, there’s no denying Fiorina is an excellent speaker and over 80% of the viewers agreed she won the first “second tier” round of debates walking away. Her description of what she would do on day one in the Oval Office is indeed priceless. “I would make two phone calls…”

Unfortunately, Fiorina has caved on both embryonic stem cell research and the support of civil unions for homosexuals. She spouts the typical line that the definition of marriage is one thing, but there’s nothing wrong with giving benefits to homosexual couples. This is still deeply problematic and runs into pretty much all of the same practical issues (like adoption) that calling such a union “marriage” would. See the case of Lisa Miller in Vermont. The fact that the Supreme Court has now made this entire issue moot for the moment is not the point. The point is that I want to vote for a candidate who has a clear understanding of the issue.

But I have to admit, this was a great sizzler at Donald Trump’s expense: “I didn’t get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped into the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t given money to the foundation, or donated to his wife’s Senate campaign.” Ouch. Speak of the devil…

*Donald Trump. Oh Donny. What are you doing on stage again? I know lots of people seem to like you right now. Even Rush Limbaugh was rushing to your defense the other day. I guess loudmouths have to stick together, eh what? But the problem I’m having, Donny, is that I just don’t trust you. Last night’s debate didn’t really help matters. Especially the part where you talked about paying Hillary Clinton to come to your wedding. (By the way, which wife was that? It’s so hard to keep track.) I echo Megyn Kelly’s question: When, exactly, did you become a Republican? And if you say “Me and Ronald Reagan” one more time I will be like…

Oh Wait You're Serious (Laughing Seal)

*Jeb Bush is not grabbing me by the collar at the moment, but it could be worse (see above). There are claims that he supports abortion exceptions for rape and incest, but I can’t tell whether this is a situation like Rubio’s or whether it’s actually a principle for Bush, like it was for Romney. And like Fiorina, he believes in “respecting civil unions” for homosexuals. Additionally, he appears waffly on Common Core education standards. On the one hand, he’s made noises supporting it, but he backed away from those last night. Which is it?

*Speaking of abortion exceptions, I don’t know that much about Scott Walker but was pleased to hear that he’s out of the mainstream when it comes to a life of the mother exception. Kelly was trying to pin him down and essentially shame him for believing abortion should not even be permissible when the life of the mother is at stake. Unfortunately, even very conservative Republicans often act as though this position isn’t even respectable. This is disappointing but sadly predictable. However, it made me more interested in Scott Walker.

*Ted Cruz hardly got to talk, but he’s the candidate I’m most interested in. The fact that he was edged out by the panel is a bad sign. It looks as though the establishment is getting ready to make sure he doesn’t upset the apple cart. You may recall that he created a bit of a stir when he spoke at a rally for persecuted Christians but interjected some pro-Israel comments when he learned that the organizers were partnering with Hezbollah. This fits with the strange fact that Christians in the Middle East unfortunately tend to be rabidly anti-Israel. Cruz was booed merely for taking time in his speech to clarify where he stands on this issue. But of course, it was Cruz who got in trouble for daring to push that button. But he doesn’t seem overly concerned with who gets offended when he speaks the truth, and I like that. We need more politicians with this kind of attitude:

Again, I know I didn’t cover every candidate. Ben Carson was sensible and well-spoken, but I need to find out more about him. John Kasich is a complete blank slate to me, except that he did give a kind of wussy answer when asked about gay “marriage.”

Any thoughts or opinions from my readers?

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3 thoughts on “GOP Candidates, First Impressions

  1. WIBBFan

    Kasich is known to be middle of the road: Common Core, accepted Federal money to set up State Obamacare exchanges, soft on immigration and apparently gay marriage from the waffling last night – often uses Bible to justify his generosity towards “everyone.” I wondered what you meant by Cruz getting “edged out by panel” so googled their times: Trump 11:14, Bush 8:48, Walker 5:45, Paul 5:28 – the rest all between 6 – 7 minutes, Cruz right in the middle. I liked him a lot. It was refreshing to have humor injected by Rubio, Walker, Carson, but Gov. Huckabee excelled at that, also very well spoken, clear and concise in his answers. Of course he’s been there before. I watched the earlier debate and agree with the pundits that Carly Fiorina was clearly the winner – but was unaware of her leftist social stances. 😦

    I thought the questions were far better than we usually see from the MSM so was shocked to read many posts on F/B from Trump followers who were utterly bitter – blaming Fox for having it in for Trump! Surely thought he would appear in a more professional manner, instead he was sullen, angry, pompous, bombastic, his usual hateful self, answers typically all over the place. And of course he had to gain the spotlight at the outset when they were asked to raise their hands if they refuse to state they will NOT run independently if they are not the nominee. It was simply uncomfortable to watch him. I’m sad to see him sullying this whole campaign and seeing his vindictiveness that could ruin the GOP’s chances.

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