The New American Perspective Live-Blogs the GOP Debate

…And then there were 7. Refresh your page to check out our commentary…

Conclusion: Christie, Kasich, and Trump were the winners of this debate. Christie because of his brawling performance, Kasich because we noticed him a bit more, and Trump because somehow no one managed to lay a hand on him. Cruz was a wash because he’s just so unlikeable — and it’s New Hampshire. But he gave good answers on foreign policy from time to time. Jeb, Carson, and Rubio lost. Jeb because he just cant string a good answer together even if he has a gun to his head. Rubio because he was crushed by Christie and never really recovered. Carson because his sole accomplishment is, to borrow his words “I’m still here!”- JJ

Winners: Christie, Kasich, Bush; Wash: Trump, Cruz, Carson; Loser: Rubio. There’s just no question that Rubio among all the candidates suffered the greatest number of blows. Rubio simply was not prepared for the onslaught from the governors, who demonstrated a real hunger. – AK

10:44 – Interesting that Cruz, during his closing statement, decided to emphasize his refusal to pander to Iowans. But that jab by Trump was smart and brutal because Cruz had no chance to reply. – AK

10:28: Being the man leading the polls, Donald Trump has once again, astonishingly, managed to avoid becoming the focus of the moderators’ attention. -JJ

10:25: The question of ransoms is so fraught. On the one hand you have the conventional wisdom that all the candidates are espousing which is that if we pay a ransom terrorists will just seek out more captives. But on the other hand the lack of ransoms hasn’t stopped terrorists from seeking out Americans at every opportunity. Would it be better to pay ransoms and accept a modest increase on an already sky-high risk in exchange for saving lives? -JJ

10:22 – Kasich lacks gravitas. He simply does not project authority, to me. – AK

10:19: Whoa, whoa, slow down there. Why don’t you explain to the audience what it would mean if we gave an ID card to every veteran allowing them to go to any hospital or healthcare provider in the country. One of the big benefits of the VA that progressives like to point to is that its basically a closed single payer system. -JJ

10:19 – It is fascinating that none of the seven candidates have military experience. It used to be practically mandatory that a commander-in-chief have at least some experience in that regard. Perhaps this issue is less potent in the post-Cold War world, in which liberalism’s hegemony in the developed world does not have any serious challengers. – AK

10:16: Jeb clearly had a point in mind when the moderator interjected and wasn’t able to recall where he wanted to go. He ended up saying something about the balance between active duty soldiers and civilian contractors and how he has a lot of military endorsements. Oh Jeb. -JJ

10:14: How does a lifelong politician stutter, um, and uh this much? Jeb come on. -JJ

10:14 – Rubio and Jeb endorse making women as well as men sign up for the draft — a long-overdue debate about the meaning feminism: whether it means women share in both the benefits and the burdens that have traditionally fallen to men. – AK

10:13: Rubio unequivocally supports the draft for men and women. Good call and easily the most defensible. He gets to use the rest of the time to talk about funding for military acquisitions. Smart. -JJ

10:11: For all the people who have a drinking game going: Chris Christie just said 9/11 again. -JJ

10:09 – A hard-right pitch from Rubio on religion: ‘They like to say Muslims are being persecuted, but it’s really Christians who are being persecuted!’ – A reminder of his religious-right leanings, which he usually tries to keep under wraps. – AK


10:09: Is Rubio going to make himself a RFRA champion? He just directly called out the Little Sisters of the Poor case which if memory serves is going to be argued this week. Interesting to see if he’d keep that tack in the general election. -JJ

10:06 – Trump’s unequivocal support for the police fits in perfectly with his Nixonian ‘Silent Majority’ pitch. Republican primary voters absolutely despise Black Lives Matter and what they see as the selective highlighting by the media of cases of police abuse. – AK

9:59: At the commercial break its worth noting that one of the benefits of having foreign policy as a debate subject is that it shows which candidates have the dexterity to get a handle on a complex subject on the fly. It’s easy in a GOP primary debate to muddle through on economics or values, but the ability to be specific on foreign policy requires the extra mile. Rubio and Cruz can get there, is anyone else able to join them? -JJ

9:51: Oh my God. Cruz shoehorned that emotional story into securing the border. That, that, is why people find him so fake. -JJ

9:50: Even when Cruz is telling a heartfelt story that obviously had a real impact on him it seems contrived to further his career. Its inexplicable, it’s like he’s congenitally odious. -JJ

9:47: “Within the first one hundred days I will vaguely do everything that you want!” Kasich misses his opportunity to be specific. -JJ

9:45 – Kasich, the Prince of Light, seems to have some sort of Messianic complex: the force of his personality and decency can somehow overcome entrenched divisions? To get people to ‘rise up’ and ‘come together’ as ‘Americans first’? That’s his argument? Give me a break. What a throwback to Obama 2008. – AK

9:41: On that note we got a good deflection from Rubio who was the first candidate to dodge the torture question entirely. Mark him down as the ‘private yes’ on torture. -JJ

9:40: The torture debate is so uncomfortable to have on stage. The only real answer should be a public ‘no’ and a private ‘yes’. -JJ

9:37: What is disappointing is that none of the candidates took the Libya opportunity to mention the specific pro-Western government that is beleaguered but holding on to Tobruk and Benghazi and desperate for our support. Would Fiorina have missed a chance to get that specific? -JJ

9:37 – It is interesting that Cruz, of all people, would ally with John McCain to push back against the use of torture. Despite his embrace of the euphemism ‘enhanced interrogation,’ Cruz does show himself to draw a limit to his macho aggression, and, like his maintenance of his opposition to ethanol subsidies while in Iowa, demonstrates that, however we feel about him, he is not a panderer: he holds to some truly principled positions. – AK

9:36: Aww, Carson really wants to show that he studied his foreign policy this time. But in the end all he really demonstrates is that his knowledge of geography has expanded since the last debate. -JJ

9:34: Bush flounders on the Libya question jumbling a bunch of points. Something about not leading from behind and creating a Sunni Arab Army. Not sure what he means. But who knows. -JJ

9:33: In an oblique way Trump is right. We can’t count on just leveling oil facilities we need to “take” the oil which means actually removing it from ISIS control. But is any candidate going to advance a real plan for doing that? -JJ

9:33 – Trump’s military ‘strategies’ remind me of the bluster you might hear from the stereotypical ‘right-wing uncle.’

9:32: Take the oil! Yes! We’re gonna build a wall around the oil! From the oil to the border! We’ll give all the money to the vets! -JJ

9:31: Rubio is right that we have no credibility with the resistance groups but he points to our deals with Iran as evidence of this? We don’t have credibility because we deliver piddling quantities of military support whereas ISIS has ‘liberated’ half the country. -JJ

9:30: Rubio is right. We cannot use Kurdish troops to occupy an expanding belt of Sunni territory unless we’re willing to countenance actual ethnic cleansing or a population transfer. -JJ

9:29 – Despite his inexperience, Rubio again demonstrates that he’s done his homework. It’s questionable whether anyone else on the stage could have given the answer he did about ISIS. – AK

9:28: Also when Cruz talks about the Gulf War its worth remembering that we incurred incredible controversy the few times we strayed into Iraqi civilian areas like Baghdad. – JJ

9:27: There aren’t enough ‘infrastructure’ targets in Syria to warrant thousands of air strikes. During the Gulf War we had to systemically dismantle a military support structure that sustained over a million men with modern combat equipment. -JJ

9:28 – Cruz’s approach to military affairs is nothing but mindless, macho aggression. He has no strategy to deal with a group like ISIS. – AK

9:26: Cruz goes halfway with his ‘carpet bombing’ phrase. He isn’t really willing to commit to the kind of ‘saturation bombing’ campaign he tries to portray to his base—because its crazy. -JJ

9:24: We need to ‘make more millionaires’ is an answer that would probably play havoc for Jeb in the general. If he had any chance of actually getting there. -JJ

9:24 – Did Jeb bus his fans into this audience? The crowd seems to be on his side to an unusual extent. – AK

9:23 – Does Rubio really think the corporate tax rate is an issue that will motivate primary voters? What voter is sitting around at night worrying about the corporate tax rate? – AK

9:22 – Christie has so dominated the debate with Rubio that Rubio’s remarks implying that Obama is competent actually elicited scattered boos – AK

9:19: Christie is stuck with the fact that New Jersey doesn’t have a great record, even if it isn’t his fault. It’s his soft spot, and everyone’s pressing him on it. -JJ

9:19 – Christie is absolutely on fire tonight. – AK

9:18: We’re going to lower the corporate tax rate and simplify the tax structure and somehow this will prevent offshoring and corporate flight? -JJ

9:18 – Trump sounds downright Perot-ian. – AK

9:17: Trump’s trade protectionism goes into high gear with the jobs question. -JJ

9:15 – Kasich has been invisible in this debate. – AK

9:14: ‘What it means to be a conservative’ is the topic? Oh good grief. Why is ABC of all networks spending time on this? -JJ

9:12: At the commercial break it seems as though Christie, Trump, and Cruz are doing well so far tonight. If the debate strays back to foreign policy I think Rubio may have a shot to bite back, especially against Christie. -JJ

9:08 – An audience member calls Rubio a ‘state rep’ — hah! – AK

9:06: This is surreal. Trump is fighting the audience by calling them shills for their donors and the RNC. -JJ

9:06 – For once, Trump’s attacks on Jeb are falling flat. He had an excellent point, but not one that the audience is predisposed to agree with. – AK

9:04: Jeb tries to fight back! He’s biting back! -JJ

9:03: Trump is right about eminent domain. This is a subject squarely within his bailiwick in the real estate industry. It was also a great shot to call out supporters of the Keystone pipeline. -JJ

9:03 – Another unconventional pitch from Trump: a rousing defense of eminent domain against ignorant, dogmatic libertarianism. He’s right: without eminent domain, you can’t have large-scale infrastructure. – AK

8:59 – Trump’s pitch on health care is very intriguing — it feels downright strange to hear such rhetoric at a Republican debate. – AK

8:58: Trump makes his pitch for his version of universal healthcare but it seems unlikely that his vision of ‘insurance with no boundaries’ would really be enough. What would “Trumpcare” really look like? -JJ

8:56: Chris Christie is just tearing into Rubio tonight and Marco just does not seem ready for it. His answers sound unconvincing and you can almost detect wavering in his voice. By contrast Christie seems like a powerhouse. -JJ

8:55 – Christie came to the debate tonight with a singular goal: cut Rubio down to size. Even if he hasn’t knocked him out, he’s done plenty to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of undecided voters. If Rubio does emerge as the consensus candidate for the ‘establishment,’ could Trump take up a similar line of attack against both Rubio and Cruz? – AK

8:49- John Kasich sticks to his guns on immigration. Is Rubio paying attention? -JJ

8:48- Did Chris Christie just compare his ‘experience as a federal prosecutor’ to dealing with a nuclear equipped North Korea? -JJ

8:48 – Christie invoked the ‘right of Americans to travel the world safely’ — an age-old American principle that was behind our military action in the late 1700s against the Barbary pirates! – AK

8:47- Jeb manages to talk about North Korea and says nothing. -JJ

8:46- Rubio is right on North Korea. Slap the sanctions back on NK. -JJ

8:46 – The pacing of this debate is fantastic and the moderators have done a great job at applying the rules reasonably. If only we’d had seven-man debates all along! – AK

8:45- Surgical strike on North Korea? More like pre-planned, pre-positioned, and positively massive air campaign Donald… -JJ

8:43 – If Trump weren’t on that stage, nobody would have challenged Rubio’s assertion that Obama is basically competent. – AK

8:44- Ballistic Missile Defense is great and worthy of significant financial investment for innumerable reasons, but politicians use it as cover to avoid tackling these problems directly before BMD would even become necessary. Consequently they also overstate its efficacy. -JJ

8:42- Rubio seemed like he was whimpering for some easy points after that fracas with Christie and didn’t get any solace from the moderator. -JJ

8:41 – Although his substantive experience may be lacking, Rubio doesn’t soundincompetent or unpolished: he comes across as someone who has done his homework, which is usually enough to neutralize charges of incompetence, especially on military and foreign policy-related issues, which go further above the public’s head than social or economic issues. – AK

8:41- Cruz also made the right point about letting problems fester. The problem with nuclear weapons is the strategic invulnerability, or at least the sense of it, that it imparts on the country that acquires it. -JJ

8:39- Cruz isn’t wrong. The problem we have with North Korea is directly traceable to the Clinton Administration and the failure to strike Yongbyon in 1994. -JJ

8:37- Annnnd he succeeded. Christie knew exactly what he wanted to do the moment he got a hold of the microphone and he went for the jugular. Kicked him like a puppy. -JJ

8:36 – Wow Christie really wanted to maul Rubio. -JJ

8:34 – Christie’s out for blood! – AK

8:32 – The ‘Republican Obama’ attack might fall flat with Republican voters because a lot of them would love a Republican Obama: they think Obama has fundamentally transformed the country in the image of progressivism, and they would love someone who can fundamentally transform the country in the image of conservatism.

8:31 – Christie is making a classic argument about executive experience, but he should have figured out by now that that argument isn’t resonating this year. – AK

8:29 – The ‘Republican Obama’ attack against Sen. Rubio is so potent because, as with Obama, Rubio’s professional life has mostly consisted of a series of fast-track promotions based on his potential. – AK

8:26 – “Easier to ask forgiveness than permission,” isn’t it, Sen. Cruz? – AK

8:24 – Carson, widely perceived by the base as a paragon of decency and integrity, is uniquely positioned to take on Cruz over ethical issues.

8:22 – Trump may have a volatile temperament, but I don’t think it’s obvious at all that Ted Cruz, of all people, has a more suitable temperament to be Commander-in-Chief — is threatening to “carpet-bomb” Iraq any more presidential than threatening to “bomb the shit out of” ISIS?  – AK

8:18 – Carson and Trump stalling to enter — have they coordinated something to call out Cruz? – AK