Archive for the ‘Debates’ Category

Last night, Donald Trump got into a Twitter fight with Carly Fiorina, which was chronicled in this CNN article. Mrs. Fiorina got under Mr. Trump’s thin skin by saying “Donald, sorry, I’ve got to interrupt again. You would know something about pathological,” Fiorina said in a Facebook post. “How was that meeting with Putin?” It didn’t take long for Trump to say “I only said I was on @60Minutes four weeks ago with Putin—never said I was in Green Room. Separate pieces—great ratings!”

According to the transcript from the Fox Business GOP Debate, Trump isn’t telling the whole truth about what he said. The transcript clearly shows that Mr. Trump said “I got to know him very well because we were both on 60 Minutes, we were stable mates, and we did very well that night.”

That’s an interesting way of talking about things. Charlie Rose flew to Moscow earlier in the week to interview Putin. It’d be interesting to hear Mr. Trump explain how he got to know Mr. Putin without meeting him. Better yet, I’d love hearing Mr. Trump explain how he and Mr. Putin were stable mates while Putin was being interviewed in Moscow and Trump was sitting in Trump Towers.

To be fair, Trump is right that they both did well that night in terms of TV ratings. In fact, I’ll stipulate that that fact is indisputable.

One of the worst moments from the FBN-Wall St. Journal GOP Debate came when Carly Fiorina interrupted Rand Paul to highlight President Reagan’s walking away from negotiations in Reykjavik “when it was time to quit talking.” Listen to the reaction to Mr. Trump:

That’s a two-fer. First, Carly highlighted her substantive differences with Sen. Paul by noting that continuous chatting isn’t always wise. That’s what this administration, especially Hillary and John Kerry, have done. Their history has been a disaster. Second, Trump looked sexist because he interrupted Mrs. Fiorina but he didn’t interrupt Gov. Kasich or the other men when they tried jumping into the debate. I don’t think Trump is sexist but it’s obvious that that’s how it played in the Theater.

Saying that Frank Luntz’s focus group in New Hampshire had a negative reaction to John Kasich’s answer on the bank bailout is understatement:

To be fair, the people in the Theater didn’t have a positive reaction to Gov. Kasich’s answer, either.

For all intents and purposes, Kasich’s campaign and Jeb’s campaigns are ‘dead-men-walking’ campaigns. While people haven’t made their final decision, they’ve made up their mind in terms of rejecting Gov. Kasich and Gov. Bush.

The latest spin from progressives is that the questions asked at the CNBC Disaster were “the most substantive” questions asked this debate season:

Cruz ticked off the insults the CNBC moderators had lobbed Wednesday night at the assembled Republicans. “Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues?”

The crowd roared. Republican pollster Frank Luntz reported with some awe that his focus group gave Cruz’s riff a 98. “That’s the highest score we’ve ever measured,” Luntz tweeted. “EVER.”

Cruz’s attack on the moderators was smart politics, but it was almost precisely backwards. The questions in the CNBC debate, though relentlessly tough, were easily the most substantive of the debates so far. And the problem for Republicans is that substantive questions about their policy proposals end up sounding like hostile attacks, but that’s because the policy proposals are ridiculous, not because the questions are actually unfair.

Let me correct those deceptive statements before someone starts thinking that they’re substantive comments worthy of serious consideration. To do that, it’s important to provide context for the debate. CNBC signed a contract that said that this debate would be about economic issues.

John Harwood didn’t meet those expectations. He failed that test early and often. Early on, he asked Donald Trump a question that ended with him saying “Let’s be honest. Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?” That’s Klein’s idea of a substantive, hard-hitting question?

A couple minutes later, Becky Quick asked Dr. Carson a question about his tax plan, saying “Dr. Carson, let’s talk about taxes. You have a flat tax plan of 10 percent flat taxes, and, I’ve looked at it, and this is something that is very appealing to a lot of voters, but I’ve had a really tough time trying to make the math work on this.” Though this sounds like a fair question, it isn’t from the standpoint that Dr. Carson’s flat tax plan, in Dr. Carson’s words, “the rate is gonna be much closer to 15 percent.”

If these are examples of “the most substantive”, hard-hitting questions of the debate season, why are they utterly disrespectful? Why didn’t the ‘moderators’ do their homework and get the basics right? When Harwood asked Sen. Rubio about his tax plan, he got it almost entirely wrong. Here’s that exchange:

HARWOOD: Senator Rubio, 30 seconds to you. The Tax Foundation, which was alluded to earlier, scored your tax plan and concluded that you give nearly twice as much of a gain in after-tax income to the top 1 percent as to people in the middle of the income scale. Since you’re the champion of Americans living paycheck-to- paycheck, don’t you have that backward?
RUBIO: No, that’s — you’re wrong. In fact, the largest after- tax gains is for the people at the lower end of the tax spectrum under my plan. And there’s a bunch of things my tax plan does to help them.
Number one, you have people in this country that…
HARWOOD: The Tax Foundation — just to be clear, they said the…
RUBIO: …you wrote a story on it, and you had to go back and correct it.
HARWOOD: No, I did not.
RUBIO: You did. No, you did.

Sean Davis’ article settles that matter permanently by posting Harwood’s tweet saying that he “had to go back and correct it”:

John Harwood? Verified account ?
?@JohnJHarwood CORRECTING earlier tweet: Tax Foundation says Rubio benefits lowest 10% proportionally more (55.9) than top 1% (27.9%). Avg for all: 17.8%.

It’s stunning that the DNC apologists that call themselves journalists can’t even get their facts straight. They can’t even admit that they’ve made mistakes when it’s highlighted that they’ve made major mistakes. Harwood’s mistake was so bad that the Tax Foundation corrected him in a tweet…during the debate:

Scott A. Hodge ?@scottahodge
Rubio was right about his plan. Poor get larger tax benefit than the rich. #CNBCGOPdebate …

These aren’t substantive, hard-hitting questions. If I wanted to write a 3,000 word article on the flimsy, unprofessional questions asked at the CNBC I could do it without much effort. When a moderator asks whether fantasy football should be regulated, the candidates should have the right to criticize the moderators.

After last night’s debate, Jeb Bush appeared on America’s Newsroom to insist that his campaign isn’t on life support, which means his campaign is on life support. It’s like when progressives insist that the science is settled and the debate is over on climate change. George Will properly noted that people who insist that the science is settled and the debate is over are usually fighting the fight of a lifetime and they’re losing the debate.

If David Catanese’s article is accurate, which I’m confident it is, Jeb Bush’s campaign is in trouble. The biggest attention-grabbing part of Catanese’s article is the part where he shares vote goals in Iowa. According to a report selectively leaked to the media, “Bush’s vote goal, according to the document, is to attain 18 percent of the vote share, or about 23,700 votes.” That isn’t optimistic. It’s unrealistic by orders of magnitude.

According to Catanese’s article, Gov. Bush’s “campaign identifies just 1,281 known supporters in Iowa, even after making over 70,000 calls and collecting more than 5,000 emails through mid-October.” That means Gov. Bush just has to increase his known support by eighteen times. The chances of that happening are nonexistent. The chances of him going from 1,281 known supporters to 5,000 supporters is a difficult, if not a near-impossible, proposition.

That’s before talking about something that other pundits haven’t talked about. Jeb Bush is a terrible candidate. Whatever people think of Jeb’s brother, the reality is that he loved campaigning and it showed. Jeb isn’t a good campaigner. He looks better suited to be a policy wonk at a DC think tank, where campaign skills aren’t required.

Jeb tried going negative during the CNBC debate. He looked awful attempting it. If you’re awkward going negative against Hillary, she’ll slice and dice you before turning you into “thousands of Julienne Fries” for breakfast.

According to this highly unscientific poll, Donald Trump won CNBC’s GOP debate quite handily. According to the online poll, Trump dominates with 48% of the vote, followed by Ted Cruz with 19.12% and Marco Rubio with 14.28%.

Finding out that Donald Trump won the troll poll immediately following a debate isn’t surprising. It’s like finding out that Rand Paul won the CPAC Straw Poll. It’s as surprising as finding out that Bill Gates and Warren Buffett made money last week.

Honestly, Donald Trump had a decent performance, with one high profile weak spot and one low profile weak spot. Mr. Trump’s high profile weak spot came when he insisted that he hadn’t criticized Mark Zuckerberg about H1B visas. The only thing weaker than his answer was that CNBC moderator Becky Quick apologized even though she got it right. Mr. Trump did criticize Mr. Zuckerberg about H1B visas. It’s even posted on Mr. Trump’s campaign website on his immigration issues page.

The other weak spot for Mr. Trump came when he started talking about how he isn’t being influenced by super PACs. From there, he pivoted to rail against super PACs, saying “Super PACs are a disaster, they’re a scam, they cause dishonesty, and you’d better get rid of them because they are causing a lot of bad decisions to be made by some very good people.”

Trump will get hit on this in the coming days, especially by columnists like George Will, who will excoriate him for hating the protections that the First Amendment provides.

The consensus from last night’s debate was that Rubio won it going away, that Cruz helped himself by ridiculing the CNBC moderators for asking gotcha questions and that it was terrible night for Jeb! The truth is that Mr. Trump was fairly subdued (perhaps sedated? LOL) last night. He didn’t have his swagger going, either, which meant he just bided his time before getting out of town ASAP.

That’s hardly the description of a candidate who won the debate handily.

Robert Tracinski’s article introduces us to a new acronym for the Democrats. That acronym is TINA, which stands for “There Is No Alternative”, which is what the Democrats have now that Hillary is finally the inevitable candidate she’s always thought she’d be. The good news for Democrats is that Hillary is their all-but-official presidential nominee. The bad news for Democrats is that Hillary is their all-but-official presidential nominee.

Thanks to Hillary’s ‘competitors’ either dropping out or showing that they aren’t seriously attempting to win the nomination, the excitement that a competitive campaign would’ve produced disappears. That’s easy to illustrate. CNN’s GOP debate attracted over 20,000,000 viewers. CNN’s Democratic debate attracted less than 15,000,000 viewers. Now that the Democratic nomination is essentially finished, what’s there to get excited about?

Bernie Sanders was attracting big crowds before he said he was tired of hearing about Hillary’s emails. Since then, those types of headlines have disappeared, too. That’s predictable. The far left was aching for a serious hardline progressive candidate. Their first choice was Elizabeth Warren but they would’ve settled for Bernie Sanders.

Now, they don’t have either as a legitimate option.

Prior to Sanders’ surprising rise in the polls, Hillary had a significant enthusiasm gap crisis. Now that it’s obvious that they’re stuck with Hillary, what is there to get excited about??

Meanwhile, Republicans still have a competition on their hands. That guarantees large viewing audiences for their debates. That means people can see the difference between solutions-oriented conservatives and a career politician with a thin list of accomplishments.

If Republicans nominate a principled conservative, the swing state map will expand in the Republicans’ favor.

I wrote this article to analyze the Democrats’ first presidential debate, which was moderated by CNN. I must confess that I made a mistake in considering last night’s DNC/CNN event a debate. It wasn’t a debate because nobody attempted to lay a glove on Queen Hillary. Whether that’s because the 4 males (I can’t call them men for obvious reasons) self-neutered, whether it’s because they didn’t dare cross DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz or whether they want a cabinet post in a Hillary administration, the 4 males acted more like eunuchs than candidates.

The outcomes were predictable. First, CNN lost in the sense that 9,000,000 fewer people tuned into their non-event. Second, despite Ms. Wasserman-Schultz’s spin to the contrary, America saw the pathetic cast of candidates the Democrats have. Third, Hillary wasn’t helped by the fact that she still hasn’t faced a legitimate challenge on a debate stage. Fourth, Hillary’s contention that she’s an outsider because she’s a woman running for president is getting tiresome to voters.

During the 2014 election cycle, Mark Udall ran a campaign focused on women’s issues. His campaign was all-women-all-the-time. It earned him the nickname of “Mark Uterus” from the Denver Post. Things didn’t end well for Sen. Udall:

It’s indisputable that Democrats captured lightning in a bottle in 2012 with their war on women campaign. Based on Hillary’s mediocre polling results, the lightning is gone. Hillary has certainly played up the fact that she’d be the first woman president at every opportunity. Still, Hillary’s polling is lackluster.

Pundits across the nation are chatting up how confident Hillary looked. My reply to that is simple: If you’re essentially in a competition-free zone, why wouldn’t you feel confident? The minute Bernie Sanders said that he’s tired of hearing about Hillary’s “damn emails”, Hillary lit up like a Christmas tree. It was the most genuine emotion she’s shown since marrying Bill Clinton. (Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration but it isn’t like most of her emotional displays aren’t contrived and calculated.)

The bottom line is this: a) Hillary is now all but officially the Democrats’ presidential nominee and b) some people are still waiting for the first Democratic Party presidential debate.

One of the major things to come out of this week’s GOP debate on CNN is that Donald Trump doesn’t look like the behemoth that can’t be beat anymore. While I give lots of the credit for puncturing that image to Carly Fiorina, it isn’t fair to say that she’s the only one to draw blood against him.

When Hugh Hewitt asked Mr. Trump if the three senators on stage shared the responsibility for the refugee crisis in eastern Europe by not authorizing the use of military force, Mr. Trump said that they should accept part of the responsibility for the crisis. The minute Mr. Trump finished his statement, Sen. Rubio pounced, saying “We bear no responsibility. Let’s remember what the President said. He said that the attacks that he would conduct was going to be a pin prick. Well, the United State’s military wasn’t built to conduct pin prick attacks. If the United States military is going to be engaged by a commander-in-chief, it should only be engaged in an endeavor to win and we’re not going to authorize the use of force if you’re not going to put them in a position to win. And, quite frankly, people don’t trust this president as commander-in-chief because of that.”

Here’s the exchange between Mr. Trump and Sen. Rubio:

While that won’t dissuade Mr. Trump’s true believers, it’s something that will resonate with those activists who aren’t already infected with Trumpmania Syndrome. In the past, lightweight candidates like Lindsey Graham and ultra-establishment candidates like Jeb Bush haven’t hit Mr. Trump with the lethal hits that were required.

That changed prior to this week’s GOP Debate. It isn’t surprising that the 2 consensus winners of Wednesday night’s debate, Mrs. Fiorina and Sen. Rubio, got in the best shots against Mr. Trump. It isn’t surprising because their messaging has always been the most crisp, the most hard-hitting on the GOP side.

There’s an old hunting saying that teaches that ‘you don’t want to track a wounded grizzly’, which applies to Mr. Trump. If you aren’t going to rhetorically hit Mr. Trump with lethal force, don’t hit him at all. I’d argue, though, that you don’t belong in the race if you can’t hit Mr. Trump with lethal force.

The campaign, in its truest form, should be a clash of titans. Those that can’t compete at that highest level needn’t apply.

According to this CNN article, Carly Fiorina bullied Chris Christie during Wednesday night’s debate. According to Gov. Christie, “Carly Fiorina talked too much [Wednesday] night about herself and not enough about the issues.” Apparently, this is part of Christie’s post-debate spin. That’s rich considering the fact that the CNN article noted that “From the moment he took the stage, Christie tried to emphasize the idea that he was focused more on voters than himself.”

This reeks of sour grapes and spin. First, it’s foolish to think that Carly Fiorina didn’t talk about the issues. When asked about military preparedness, Mrs. Fiorina gave one of the most comprehensive answers in debate history, speaking about how many divisions the Army needed and how many ships the Navy needed.

Put differently, Mrs. Fiorina answered the questions on point. Not only were Mrs. Fiorina’s answers on point. They displayed a grasp of the minutiae and the big picture. Other than that, Mrs. Fiorina’s answers were what you’d expect of a typical politician.

From a different perspective, Gov. Christie isn’t a stranger to this process. While it’s good form to let the person answer the question, it’s often the person who jumps into the conversation that benefits the most. Mr. Christie hasn’t shown a reluctance to interrupt people at townhall meetings. Why wouldn’t he take this opportunity?

Last night, Donald Trump was exposed as a wimp with a glass jaw. After the debate, he whined that Megyn Kelly “behaved very nasty to me.”

That’s rich.

The man who insists he’ll get China, Mexico, Russia and Iran to buckle can’t take tough questions from a moderator. While he didn’t crumble, he lost his temper. Then he lied. Ms. Kelly started by saying “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.’” Mr. Trump insisted that he’d said that about “only Rosie O’Donnell” as though that was ok. Ms. Kelly re-asserted herself, saying “No, it wasn’t. Your Twitter account – For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell.” Mr. Trump’s condescending response was “Yes, I’m sure it was.”

Ms. Kelly continued on track, saying “You once told a woman on Celebrity Apprentice that ‘it would be a pretty picture of her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of the man we should elect as president and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton that you are part of the war on women”?

Mr. Trump replied that “This country’s problem is being politically correct” before saying that “we’re $19,000,000,000,000 in debt.” Poor little rich boy. A debate moderator criticizes him for playing into Hillary Clinton’s ‘War on Women’ storyline but that’s somehow mean-spirited and out-of-bounds? Trump calls women “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals” but that’s ok? Which universe was Mr. Trump born in that that makes sense?

Mr. Trump has tried portraying himself as a Master of the Universe type of omnipotent being. RealClearPolitics’ Tom Bevan posted this pitch-perfect tweet, saying “Trump is going to bust balls of Putin, China & Mexico – right after he recovers from having his feelings hurt by @megynkelly’s questions.”

It’s impossible to not mock Mr. Trump after he told MSNBC “I’m very surprised at Fox News that they would do that because, you know, I would say it’s pretty unprofessional.” Saying that “it would be a pretty picture” to see a female celebrity “on her knees” is presidential but getting asked tough questions is unprofessional?

Mr. Trump isn’t a man of integrity. He’s foul-mouthed. He’s as egotistical as Obama. Like Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump treats some women properly while treating others like trailer trash. There’s nothing presidential about him.