With the upcoming 2016 presidential election, candidates for both the Republican and Democratic parties are placing their bids. One way for them to publicly broadcast their political beliefs and potential bills is through their party’s presidential debate. On Wednesday, Sept. 16, the top 11 candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination faced each other in a series of discussions.
The candidates’ podiums stood in front of Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One airplane at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief correspondent for Washington, moderated the debate while guests Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent, and Hugh Hewitt, a conservative radio host, asked the candidates questions. Tapper explained that each candidate was allowed a one-minute response, and then a 30 second rebuttal. CNN announced that they wanted to increase the interaction between the candidates and spark more face-to-face discussion.
The three hour long debate hosted Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; businessman and real estate tycoon Donald Trump; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; former CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) Carly Fiorina; Ohio Gov. John Kasich; and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. According to the Washington Post, Trump was the front-runner with 33 percent, while Carson, the only African-American candidate for the election, held 20 percent. Between the two, they made up for more than half of the potential presidential poll.
The first two topics focused on the Iranian nuclear agreement and immigration. Cruz called the deal “catastrophic” and swore to “tear it to shreds” on his first day as president. Kasich provided a more calm side; he said that the next president should first make sure that the Iranians were living up to their side of the bargain before making the next move. Trump claimed that no one would be talking about immigration if not for him. He planned to deport between 11 and 12 million illegal immigrants because America has “to have assimilation.” Cruz joined in; he claimed that any path of legal status for an illegal immigrant was a form of amnesty. Rubio commented that the U. S.’s first priority should be border control, but we also need to have a more modernized legal immigration system. He further argued that most immigrants come here due to “a relative living here instead of merit.”
Another significant topic that came up was the war on terrorism. Christie used a personal story of his wife being involved during 9/11 to push that America should not have gone to war. Carson reiterated several ties that he had tried convincing former President George W. Bush to use “smart ways,” not “muscular ways” to handle Afghanistan. Rubio then inserted that “radical terrorism cannot be solved by intellect,” to which Bush responded by claiming that his brother “kept us all safe.” Paul ended the discussion; he said he will not “send our sons and daughters back to Iraq.”
Marijuana, gun control and the climate were briefly glazed over. Fiorina used her personal story of having to bury a daughter due to drug overdose to claim that the government needs to tighten down on drug addiction. She claimed that “drug addiction is an epidemic.” Rubio argued there is no driving need to enforce more gun laws because a criminal will break a law no matter what while a law-abiding citizen will follow them.
For climate control, Christie expressed that “we don’t need a massive government intervention to deal with this problem,” while Rubio interjected that he is not “in favor of any policy that makes America a harder place to work or live in.”
The final discussion was over vaccines. Trump believed that they cause autism. Carson pointed out that “extremely well documented proof” shows that there is “no correlation between vaccines and autism.” However, both men compromised that the number of vaccines should be shortened while the proximity between shots should be lengthened. Huckabee ended the topic; he asked, “Why doesn’t this country focus on a cure instead of treatment?” for illnesses like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
University of West Georgia Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Thomas Hunter also viewed the Republican debate. Although he did not notice anything specifically significant about it, Hunter connected that to the idea that even tough “debates this early can eliminate candidates, they are not a good harbinger for who will eventually get the nomination.” Hunter described most of the candidates to be “factional” in that “each appeals to different factions within the Republican Party. In the end, though, they will pick the most mainstream candidate.”
Hunter felt that the topics were specifically chosen for the Republican candidates. He did notice that the second debate was more geared towards having “a clash of interests” among the candidates, but they used most of it to “diss Donald Trump.” Hunter specifically targeted Fiorina in that action by claiming her to be “definitely forceful.” He agreed with Fiorina that Trump “has become an entertainer, and speaking to entertain will come back to hurt him.”
The next Republican debate will take place on Oct. 28 at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. CNBC will cover the date and plans to focus on the economy.