With the presidential election 15 months from now, 14 GOP candidates appeared in New Hampshire tonight for the first debate, this one televised on C-SPAN. Fox was supposed to have the first one on Thursday, but New Hampshire objected to the elimination of seven candidates based on an Fox’s average of recent, unnamed polls. At this time, no one knows which candidates will make the break for Fox, but the “also rans” can appear before the “official” debate.
New Hampshire was far more civilized than the Fox’s extravaganza on Thursday because Donald Trump won’t be there. The other two no-shows are Mike Huckabee and late-entry Jim Gilmore. The New Hampshire one-on-one format also prevented interaction among candidates with the appearance of only one person on stage at a time.
Fox’s debate criteria were originally those who place “in the top 10 of an average of the five most recent national polls,” with a cut-off time of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Upset about the possibility of Trump attending, Fox added that the participants had to also release their financial statements. Trump did, and Fox is having trouble finding other ways to disqualify the candidate who has been running at the top of the heap since he announced.
The Fox debate method almost assuredly omits Carly Fiorina, the only woman candidate. By now, one person of color—Ben Carson—has probably managed to get into the top tier, but Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, won’t be there. Ohio governor, John Kasich, may be able to appear, nice because the debate is in his home state, but he’s vying with former Texas governor Rick Perry and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie for slots 9 and 10. Absent from the primary Fox debate will most likely be a leading candidate from last time, Rick Santorum as well as former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). In essence, Fox is declaring the top candidates and winnowing out the rest of them without giving them a chance to rise in the polls.
What the candidates say doesn’t mean much because of their incessant lying. With only nine declared candidates, Politifact found that half of the checked statements were Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire. The Democratic contenders got only a rating of 30 percent lies. Leading the GOP field was Ben Carson at 100 percent lies. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) came next with 70 percent lies, followed by Carly Fiorina at 67 percent, Rick Santorum at 53 percent, and Mike Huckabee at 52 percent. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) trailed behind at only 40 percent lying followed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) at 36 percent lies. George Pataki’s only checked statement was also false—maybe another 100 percent.
Here’s a sample of what eleven of the participants have been up to lately. The other six haven’t managed anything memorable—maybe because they’re acting a bit more like adults.
New Jersey governor, Chris Christie has said that treating each others with respect “can bring people together.” That was followed by saying that the national teachers union “deserves a punch in the face.” Washington Post has put together a video demonstrating the many moods of Chris Christie—defensive, condescending and unapologetic, sarcastic, indignant, tough guy, and funny man—in short, narcissistic who wants only to be a celebrity.
Former Alabama governor Mike Huckabee followed his comment that President Obama is sending people into the oven (a Holocaust reference) with suggesting that he would dispatch U.S. troops to block women from having their legal reproductive rights. (He didn’t appear in New Hampshire tonight.)
Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, has repeated his statement that he doesn’t know if President Obama is a Christian. He also hasn’t figured out whether being LGBT is a choice although he topped that off by saying it’s not his concern after extensive work to discriminate against them. Questions are hard for Walker: he won’t answer whether he accepts modern biology or whether the president loves the United States.
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has attacked a few other GOP candidates by accusing them of not reporting to work in Congress all the time. His new clip states, “If Congress skips votes or hearings, Jeb will dock their pay.” He probably means “members of Congress,” but more than that, only Congress can adjust their compensation. It’s in the U.S. Constitution, Jeb.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), desperate to get attention back from Trump, has said he made a video of himself cooking bacon on a machine gun, but he couldn’t even tell the truth about the gun. It was actually an AR -15. A Smith and Wesson representative pointed out that the bacon stunt violates the gun’s warranty. The same conservative media outlet, IJ Review, filmed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) destroying a cell phone in a number of ways including the use of a blender. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) attacked the tax code with a chain saw and a wood chipper. These are people who consider themselves presidential timbre.
Graham, in a mild-mannered Southern way, may be the scariest candidate. As president, he would start wars with at least four nations, including Iran, North Korea, Iraq, and Syria, while sending soldiers back to Afghanistan. He would also “fire any military leader who disagreed with me.” At the same time, Graham wants veterans to pay more for their health care.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) loved NASA’s successful visit to the dwarf planet Pluto in July and hoped that young people will “feel that American science, ingenuity and daring are alive and well.” He continued by talk about its importance but has voted to cut NASA funding while refuting the findings of the agency’s scientists. So much for “American innovation.”
Dr. Ben Carson, who wants more political questions than medical, failed his exam on the U.S. Constitution in a Meet the Press interview. Chuck Todd asked Carson, “Does the Bible have authority over the US Constitution?” When Carson said that this depends on the specifics, Todd, as usual, had no follow-up. Once again, facts are not part of “journalist” Todd’s job.
Rick Santorum thinks that the U.S. isn’t “winning” the war against ISIS because the country is not killing enough civilians in the Middle East. He complained about the lack of ordnance dropped on the insurgents in Ramadi, capital of Anbar Province, despite the way that the Iraqi army has surrounded the city. The U.S. killed over one-half million Iraqis in George W. Bush’s war, but Santorum wants to kill more.
Rick Perry has benefited from voice lessons, a good speech writer, and serious-looking glasses, but he still has a problem with ethics. Perry is a board member for an energy company that he protected while in office, and his boss, Kelcy Warren, is the biggest contributor to the super PACs funding Perry’s advertising. The company’s reward would be the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline if Perry became president.
Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, has stopped all state Medicaid for two state Planned Parenthood affiliates, claiming that he “investigated” Planned Parenthood after the fraudulent videos released to the public. Jindal is also driving business out of the state because of his discriminatory “religious freedom” stance and took $2,500 from every taxpayer in the state to give to corporations.
That’s tonight’s line-up. Tomorrow evening Fox may reveal which ones of these candidates appear in the “real” debate and which ones will be at the “kids’ table.”
In a bit of black humor, Walker has again been “punked.” When he was running for governor, a journalist convinced him that he was talking to a Koch brother. In this photo, he probably didn’t know that he was proudly posing behind a “check” showing that the Koch brothers were buying him. American “exceptionalism” strikes again.