Photo: Courtesy of cbsnews.com
MILWAUKEE, WI – The top 8 Republican presidential candidates squared off Tuesday night (November 11th 2015) in the fourth GOP presidential debate.
Here’s who qualified for the debate, and where each candidate stands in the polls, according to the Real Clear Politics average of five recent national polls:
• Donald Trump, real-estate magnate.
• Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon.
• Marco Rubio, US senator from Florida.
• Jeb Bush, former Florida governor.
• Ted Cruz, US senator from Texas.
• Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett Packard CEO.
• Rand Paul, US senator from Kentucky.
• John Kasich, Ohio governor.
Unlike the other 3 debates, the candidates’ policies and clear individual plans filled up the prime time segment. The main focus was on the economy. The gathering in Milwaukee had the fewest candidates so far this year as just eight qualified for the main stage. Not only did the candidates draw distinctions on how they would jumpstart the economy, reform the tax code, and shrink government; but what also emerged was major divides within the GOP on immigration and foreign policy.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had another strong debate, as did Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, both of who are nipping at the heels of frontrunners Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the polls.
Trump received the first question on raising minimum wage and deftly handled it. He concluded that he was against it. He did not fare well the rest of the debate starting with his stance on immigration – build a wall and send 11 million people back who aren’t here legally. John Kasich clashed with him on it: “For the 11 million people, come on folks, we all know you can’t pick them up and ship them back across the border. It’s a silly argument. It’s not an adult argument.” In a bizarre turn of events, Trump pushed for Jeb Bush to be able to speak. But Bush didn’t take his side, and argued such large deportations also aren’t possible. “12 million illegal immigrants — to send them back 500,000 a month is just not possible, and it’s not embracing American values and it would tear communities apart,” he argued.
Carson had a stronger debate than in the past and he successfully tackled questions about his biography and views on the economy, but he still appeared highly uncomfortable and meandering when trying to talk about foreign policy and national security concerns.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was under pressure to turn in a better debate performance than his last, and he mostly delivered. While he may not have been the best on stage, the showing should still calm fears of nervous donors. He didn’t get in another losing spat with Rubio, but did have strong moments when he took on Trump over immigration and foreign policy.
Senator Rand Paul had a few memorable moments, including correcting Trump on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Trump said it would empower China. “It’s a deal that was designed for China to come in as they always do, through the back door, and totally take advantage of everyone,” explained Trump. “It’s 5,600 pages long, so complex that nobody’s read it.” Paul jumped in to point out China isn’t part of the deal… To Rand, it’s more of an issue of ceding to Obama, who is trying to push the deal through Congress.
An unexpected clash between Rubio and Paul was a spark as well. The Florida senator jumped on Paul for wanting to cut too much money from the defense budget: “I know that Rand is a committed isolationist. I’m not. I believe the world is a stronger and a better place when the United States is the strongest military power in the world.” Paul’s retort: “Marco, how is it conservative to add a trillion dollar expenditure for the federal government that you’re not paying for? How is it conservative to add a trillion dollars in military expenditures?”
Cruz jumped in, “You think defending this nation is expensive? Try not defending it, that’s a lot more expensive,” he said, backing Rubio, but tried to underscore that he would find a way to pay for it without adding to the deficit.
Carly Fiorina went into specifics on ways she would boost the economy, which went over well. Late into the debate she had a memorable exchange with Trump over negotiating with Vladimir Putin.
Probably the most up and down candidate at this debate was Ohio governor John Kasich who tried to take control of the debate by aggressively positioning himself as the moderate in the field. He defended his position on the economy and that he would bail out banks in the event of a potential financial collapse. His style helped him garner one of the highest amounts of speaking time.
For more debate commentary, tune in to The Crash Proof Retirement Show with Phil Cannella and Joann Small, airing Saturdays at 11am on Talk Radio 1210-AM, WPHT.