Thursday, September 17, 2015

A few thoughts on Wednesday's GOP presidential debate: Fiorina now officially the anti-Hillary

CNN spent too much time attempting to pit one GOP candidate against the other, mostly against Donald Trump for the first 30 minutes or so. The only criticism of existing policy, i.e., Obama, was when it was mentioned by the candidates themselves.

The attempt at gotcha questions got very boring, very quickly. It took almost two hours before they started to focus on some relevant issues other than each other's campaign-speak!

The moderators blew it when they tried to make so much of the debate about Trump. But to their credit, the candidates managed to address substance despite the moderators. I was impressed by the high quality of most of the candidates

Shame on CNN for being so fixated on both Trump, and on starting a fight between him and the other candidates. They focused more on ratings and by doing so they did a disservice to the people.

The big loser was CNN, which tried to provoke candidate quarrels instead of focusing more directly on the many substantive issues we face.

There is still a lot of time and candidates to weed out. Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki are done and need to drop out of the race.

Scott Walker was good on some points, but not enough to make up for his weak showing in the first debate. He effectively defended his record as Wisconsin Governor.

John Kasich bragged about himself too much. However, he defended is record as the Governor of Ohio very well and made a strong case for renewing America’s ties to European and Asian allies.

Rand Paul is a nice guy, but not POTUS material. He let his libertarian colors fly boldly when defending the legalization of marijuana, though the case is weak.

Bobby Jindal did well enough to stick around and continue to compete for a possible VP slot on the GOP ticket.

Ben Carson did fairly well, but will drop in the polls due to Carly Fiorina's performance. He was charming and witty, just as in the first debate. This time, he took on policy issues with mixed success.

Carson was too delicate on most topics, but I do appreciate his manners on the stage with respecting his peers. Carson came off as thoughtful and measured, but perhaps excessively diplomatic. Is he tough enough?

Bush and Mike Huckabee will stay where they are at in the polls.

Bush was more aggressive this time around and made some policy points. He came off as thoughtful and measured, but perhaps a bit petty demanding that Trump apologize to his wife.

He got a lot of applause from the debate audience for defending his brother, George W.Bush, who’d been attacked by Trump.  “There’s one thing I know about my brother,” he said. “He kept us safe.”

Another Bush? I believe up to now, Bush is a sideshow for Trump because the Donald is vocalizing the negative perceptions of Jeb. Nothing more!

Huckabee made just enough noise to stay in the race a little longer. He is still not a serious presidential and VP contender.

Chris Christie saved his presidential campaign last night and continues to gain steam. He is drawing a lot of support from former Bush and Perry supporters.

The debate format worked marvelously for him. Christie may be finding a niche as the version of Trump in terms of blunt speech with some actual experience in government and politics.

Trump did well enough not to hurt himself, but will fall some due to the rise of Fiorina.

When Trump is asked for policy details about any major issues (the economy, healthcare, foreign policy), he asserts that he will do good things because he is smarter than most.  But as he doesn't have mastery of the details, he will acquire the services of other really smart people who will come up with brilliant solutions to all of these issues.

1)  If these really smart advisers exist and have great solutions that will be readily adopted because of their obvious brilliance, why hasn't any else found them and brought their solutions forward?  Doing this would bring great fame to whoever first did it, so someone would have done so by now - if such great and obvious solutions in fact existed.

2)  By what criteria would Trump select said advisers?  If he is going to rely on them to establish the policies by which he would govern, he should at least have some specific criteria to be used in his selection process.  Could he at least disclose these?

In my humble opinion Trump alone cannot offer substance on issues other than the domestic economy, and even there I may be wrong.

Contrary to his bluster, what made Trump successful was hiring the right people to run his businesses. So, if he wants to become someone seriously considered for the nomination, at some point he needs to announce members of his cabinet/advisory group. That way he could say we would be electing his team and not just Trump.

Beneath the braggadocio and entertainment aspect of the in-your-face style he has risen on, is someone who does have a record of accomplishment as a developer, a negotiator and an astute businessman. People know that. No one can deny his success at developing his brand.

What people are beginning to sense and even imagine is that, despite his bombastic style, if he can do that with his personal brand, why couldn't he do that with America with the power of the presidency behind him?

Trump has already accomplished important goals for the Republicans:

1) He has brought voter energy to the Republicans, while exposing the weakness of the Establishment Republicans.

2) He has brought the immigration disaster to the forefront of campaign.

3) He has significantly diminished Jeb as a candidate.

4) He has forced the other best candidates to up their game.

Ted Cruz may see a little bump in the polls, but needs to quit sounding like he is giving a campaign stump speech during the debates. He is  pandering too much to the camera.  I still see Cruz as the top contender for the VP slot of the GOP ticket.

Marco Rubio really shined on foreign policy during the debate. As good as he was in the first debate, Rubio was stronger this time. The points he made on foreign affairs and national security were spot on.

Look for Rubio to start moving up in the polls.

Carly Fiorina was clearly the biggest winner from last night's debate. Look for her to start challenging Trump for the front runner status. Fiorina is starting to gain a lot of support from folks looking for an alternative to Trump.  Her comments were fact-filled, well articulated, and focused on every subject.

Fiorina nailed it last night. Her response to Trump's childish insult was excellent. It may be the best response I have ever seen on the debate. The look on Trump's face was priceless.

Her response on rebuilding America's foreign presence and respect was effective not only in showing her preparedness and thoughtfulness, it illustrated how weak Trump's response has been.

Fiorina is now officially the anti-Hillary.

Regardless of who "won" the debate last night, my observation is that all of the candidates can learn from Fiorina. Her preparedness and ability to deliver a good message with few words is a model that should be emulated.

As to the "food-fight" criticism that I've seen posted elsewhere about the debate, isn't that what the primary season is for? Aren't GOP voters supposed to be identifying the one person who will lead the Party into the 2016 season?

If the debates can help us understand the character of each candidate, we as voters are better off. As should be evident after seven years of the current administration, character matters.

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