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Are The GOP Debates Useless?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Ron DeSantis is my Governor and I like him and think he might make a good President. I also Like Senator Tim Scott’s rags to riches story, I like Mike Pence’s long record as a stalwart cultural conservative, and I like Vivek Ramaswamy’s incisive wit and economic savvy, however,

the first Republican presidential debate was a snoozefest overshadowed by Donald Trump’s epic appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Twitter channel.

And the reason that first debate was a snoozefest is because none of the candidates addressed the most important question to be answered in the upcoming Republican Primaries – Why should we vote for one of them instead of Donald Trump?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need to spend a couple of hours listening to a college debate competition, unless one of my kids is in it.

And that’s exactly how the GOP field came across in the first debate, scoring points on each other, but not answering the big question that overshadows everything else.

What’s more the debate didn’t really move any numbers for any of the candidates – it simply reinforced existing impressions.

According to the results of a survey done by Ipsos for FiveThirtyEight and The Washington Post, “Each candidate largely performed as well as Republican voters were expecting them to, according to their average performance and expectations scores. DeSantis received the highest average grade for his performance, followed closely by Haley and Ramaswamy.”

It also appears that for some of them, the more they talked, the worse they were rated by those polled.

As the poll found:

Interestingly, while 14 percent of debate watchers thought Hutchinson turned in the worst performance, he wasn’t the one with the highest share saying so. That “honor” went to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom 22 percent of viewers identified as the worst debater. One possible reason for this could be simply that Christie spoke more than Hutchinson did (over 11 minutes versus seven and a half). Similarly, the candidate who had the most speaking time (former Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke for almost 13 minutes) had a relatively high share of people saying he had the worst performance (13 percent). Ramaswamy’s performance proved somewhat polarizing as well: Despite 26 percent saying he was the strongest debater, another 11 percent said he was the worst.

As of last Thursday, CNN reported six candidates have said they had qualified for the second debate, which will take place next Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott.

That means two of the lowest performers, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, will likely not be on the stage.

For the DC political class, the debates are all about an imaginary “winnowing” process defined by money and donors. In the case of Wednesday’s debate, CNN reported that to appear on the stage a candidate must have signed a pledge promising to back the eventual nominee of the 2024 Republican primary, hit 50,000 unique donors (a 10,000-donor increase from the first debate requirement) that includes a minimum 200 donors from 20 states and territories. Qualifying candidates also must register at 3% in two national polls or the same level of support in one national poll and two polls from separate early nominating states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Nevada.

However, for those of us out in real America there’s only one thing that will “winnow” the field – convincing us that you are a better candidate and going to govern better than Donald Trump.

In a brilliant stroke of counterprograming, former President Trump won’t be on the debate stage, he will be in Detroit speaking to 500 current and former union workers, including plumbers, pipe-fitters, electricians, as well as striking autoworkers. Rather than going tit-for-tat on the arcana of marginal tax rates and the other stuff that occupies these establishment media-run debates Trump will be in Michigan very likely repeating the themes of the 2016 speeches that made him an unlikely working-class hero.

Here's what Donald Trump said in 2016 to the Detroit Economic Club, and that’s what the Republican candidates on the debate stage are going to have to beat to convince Trump voters to back them instead of him:

When we were governed by an America First policy, Detroit was booming. Engineers, builders, laborers, shippers and countless others went to work each day, provided for their families, and lived out the American Dream.

But for many living in this city, that dream has long ago vanished. When we abandoned the policy of America First, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own. The skyscrapers went up in Beijing, and in many other cities around the world, while the factories and neighborhoods crumbled in Detroit. Our roads and bridges fell into disrepair, yet we found the money to resettle millions of refugees at taxpayer expense.

Today, Detroit has a per capita income of under $15,000 dollars, about half of the national average.

40 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, over two-and-half times the national average. The unemployment rate is more than twice the national average. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.

Detroit tops the list of Most Dangerous Cities in terms of violent crime – these are the silenced victims whose stories are never told by Hillary Clinton, but victims whose suffering is no less real or permanent.

In short, the city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent’s failed economic agenda.

You can substitute “Joe Biden and the Democrats” for Hillary Clinton and make that speech right for today. And Donald Trump is still the only President who has acted to reverse those policies, something that you never hear from the other Republican candidates except in the most general terms.

I still like several of the Republican primary contenders, but Trump was right about why Detroit has fallen from the greatest manufacturing city in the world to the cesspit it is today. I think I’ll skip the second GOP debate and watch Donald Trump’s Detroit speech to see if he still has the fire and the incisive truth-telling that won him my vote in 2016 and 2020.

  • Second Republican debate

  • Ron DeSantis

  • Donald Trump

  • Reagan Library Debate

  • Vivek Ramswamy

  • Tucker Carlson

  • Nikki Haley

  • Debate ratings

  • Chris Christie

  • RNC Loyalty pledge

  • Trump Detroit speech

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1 Comment

Mike M
Mike M
Sep 25, 2023

Hutchinson and Christie-shut up, go home ,play with your grandkids and we'll forget that you ever existed.

Pence-change your name from Mike to Judas Iscariot and disappear-immediately and permanently! If you had been a man and done your job when you had the chance then maybe this once great country wouldn't be in the ungodly mess it's in now!

Al the rest of you except DeSantis-swallow your pride, suspend your campaigns and hope that Trump appoints you to an ambassadorship or a Cabinet position.

DeSantis-swallow your pride, suspend your campaign and settle for VP. Your time will come in 2028.

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