Bimbo Banter

GOP Debate Recap

  • Trends
  • September 17, 2015
  • by Laura Barnett


Wednesday night’s GOP debate provided a lot of the drama and excitement CNN and its audience wanted, along with a fair amount of substance. With 11 people on the stage, standing out was a necessity, as most candidates are waffling somewhere between 3 and 8 percent and real estate magnate Donald Trump is leading with 30 percent.

As I said on, this debate was kind of like a “second date” with the American people. The first date was about introducing yourself and telling your story. Say enough interesting things and you’ll get invited back. Wednesday provided an opportunity for the candidates to show more substance and to see whether the public could see each of them as presidential. Some rose to the occasion more than others.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio stood out here, talking specifics on foreign policy.

Quite a few in the pack, like former pastor and TV host Mike Huckabee and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker desperately needed to grab the spotlight and get eyeballs on them; unfortunately, neither succeeded in their efforts. Ohio Governor John Kasich also needed a “stand-out” moment, but his bombastic gestures and exasperated eye contact (or lack thereof) made him look frustrated and angry.

Dr. Ben Carson has been rising in the polls and had a great opportunity Wednesday to make solid gains on Trump. While he maintained stronger eye contact than he did in the first debate, (at least early on) Carson’s monotone voice and lower energy proved that he has excellent bedside manner but may not be well-suited to maintain the rigors of a presidential campaign or the presidency itself.

So, who won? Many will say Carly Fiorina accomplished exactly what she set out to do. She wanted to prove that she deserved to play varsity, and after a strong performance in the first debate, vaulted into prime time. She also wanted to stand up to Trump, and she did. Her comment, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” was definitely a “drop the mic” moment, referring to Trump’s earlier comments about Fiorina’s face or persona, depending on your take. CNN couldn’t have written a better closing line for the first half of the debate. Some might say she should have warmed up a bit, but I can appreciate that she wanted to remain laser-focused on her goal.

Jeb Bush made strides in injecting more energy in his debate performance. Late in the debate, CNN host and debate moderator Jake Tapper asked candidates what their Secret Service code names should be and Jeb wisely quipped, “Ever Ready!” Immediately Donald Trump added he should be called “Humble,” which provided for a lot of laughs and a kind, if awkward, high-five between the two.  This is after Trump previously refused to apologize to Bush’s wife Columba, a missed opportunity to appeal to women voters.

Best Lines of the Night

“We don’t need an apprentice in the White House, we already have one.” – The first zinger of the evening goes to Scott Walker, who seemed to disappear after that one great line.

As mentioned above, Fiorina’s concisely-worded comment to Trump put him on defense, a rarity. By the way, if you haven’t seen her “Look at This Face” ad, it’s worth a quick check.

Chris Christie wisely refocused the tennis match between Fiorina and Trump by saying, “For the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight, who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his child’s education, I gotta tell ya, they could care less about your careers. They care about theirs.” Though, when Carly Fiorina attempted to rebuke his comment, he replied “You can interrupt everyone else on this stage; you’re not going to interrupt me, okay?” Appeal to middle America? Check. Bully the only woman on stage? Check.

What’s Next?

The next debate airs on CNBC on October 28. That means we have five more weeks until another showdown. With several candidates’ support dwindling, it won’t come as a surprise if the field narrows to eight or nine for the next debate. We’ll be watching.

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