It’s time to fire up the Colorado Pols Debate Diary once again. Let’s Live Blog, baby!
It has become something of a tradition here at Colorado Pols for us to give you, our loyal readers, a live blog, play-by-play of political debates relating to Colorado and the race for President. Today we are attempting a double feature of Debate Diaries, beginning first with what we’re calling the “Junior Varsity” debate among Republican candidates who failed to make the Fox News Top 10.
*NOTE: The most current update appears at the top of the page. As always, unless it is in direct quotes, consider all statements paraphrased in the interest of time. If you are following along in real-time, we’ll be a little slower than your TV as we pause and rewind to make sure we caught everything correctly.
The big winner from the Junior Varsity debate was everyone who didn’t have to be involved in this nonsense. None of the seven “second tier” Republican candidates showed that they are up to the task of being among the “Top Ten,” let alone winning election as President.
Also, Martha MacCallum should never be allowed near one of these debates again unless she is a candidate herself — just a terrible performance on her part.
At long last, closing statements! Each candidate gets 30 seconds.
Perry: Something about economy and graduation rates in Texas. Says Americans want someone who will give them hope. Says we can grow economy at a higher rate than ever in history, then refers to himself in the third person before closing with, “and that’s how America can build it’s military back up.” We couldn’t make that up if we tried.
Santorum: Talks about immigration. Says nobody is looking out for the American worker…except for him, of course.
Jindal: “We need a doer, not a talker.” This works for Jindal, because he is definitely not a “talker” who makes much sense on stage.
Fiorina: “Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi.” Ugh. “I am not a member of the political class.” Concludes with one of the more awkward smiles in recent memory.
Graham: Talks about Iran negotiations, warns that America is going to become like Greece.
Pataki: “My background is different.” Um, no, it isn’t.
Gilmore: Says he has a track record as a conservative governor. “The international crisis we are facing is most dreadful.”
Next question: What two words would you use to describe Hillary Clinton?
Pataki: Devisive and with no vision at all.
Fiorina: Not trustworthy and no accomplishments.
Santorum: Secretive and untrustworthy.
Perry: “Let’s go with three: Good at email.” Draws a few polite chuckles.
Jindal: Socialist and government dependent.
Graham: Not the change we need at a time we need it.
Gilmore: Professional politician that can’t be trusted.
To summarize, only Rick Santorum can count to two.
MacCallum blusters about America losing it’s “can-do” spirit and attitude, then asks Fiorina if she can “inspire” Americans.
Fiorina drones on about business regulations.
Santorum says he entered the Senate as a “reformer.” Says Washington is the solution, not the problem. Claims credit for creating Health Savings Plans.
Graham: Launches immediately into importance of defending America from Iran. “We’re going to lose Social Security and Medicare if Republicans and Democrats can’t come together and find a solution.” Every now and then Graham seems to wake up and starts presenting himself as the candidate who understands the realities of politics, which is refreshing. Then he switches back to talking about being poor as a child and being an unmarried 60-year-old man. Uh….
Lightning round question: What would be your first executive order?
Gilmore says he would focus on eliminating unnecessary executive orders.
Lindsey Graham names about 12 different things in 20 seconds.
Jindal says he would go after “sanctuary cities.” Says he would sign an executive order allowing Christian businesses to discriminate at will (not his exact words, but that’s the gist of it).
Perry: Says he’ll use a bottle of White-Out on Obama’s Executive Orders.
Santorum: Suspend and repeal every Executive Order and regulation that is costing America jobs. Also likes the “First Amendment Protection Act.”
Fiorina: Agrees with everyone else, says some nonsense about the difference between conservatives and progressives.
Pataki: “I defeated Mario Cuomo.” Great. Says he overturned Cuomo’s Executive Orders.
Lindsey Graham says that America will never defund Planned Parenthood unless we have a “pro-life President.”
Graham then gets back to the Middle East, and chides his opponents for promoting the idea of Middle East partners that don’t exist. He says he would send troops into Syria.
Question for Jindal: Carly Fiorina has said she would shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood — do you agree?
Jindal says that if he is elected President, he will send federal investigators and the IRS into Planned Parenthood. Then he says that President Obama shouldn’t shut down the government over Planned Parenthood. Huh?
We return from another commercial break so that MacCallum can berate Pataki for being the only pro-choice Republican Presidential candidate in 2016, then asks about defunding Planned Parenthood.
Pataki says we shouldn’t continue to try to overturn Roe v. Wade, but that we should cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood. For good measure, Pataki says that we need to believe in science (?)
Moving right along, Jim Gilmore gets this question: Should conservatives impose a litmus test on abortion?
Gilmore says he doesn’t believe in litmus tests. Says we need to appoint Supreme Court Justices who will “follow the law.”
Gilmore then talks about Iran and the need for something he calls “a Middle East NATO.”
Next question for Rick Santorum: Is same-sex marriage essentially a done deal now in America?
Santorum says we have a “rogue Supreme Court” and compares gay rights to the Dread Scott decision of 1857.
MacCallum asks Fiorina if she is comfortable being on the same side as countries like Saudi Arabia that also support terrorism.
Fiorina says that her first two calls in the Oval Office would be to her “good friend” Bibi Netanyahu of Israel, to reassure him of American support. Her second call, she says, would be to Iran to tell them that America will try to prevent Iran from moving money around the world until they open up all of their nuclear facilities.
Economic sanctions, you say? Why didn’t anybody else think of that?
Fiorina then says she would hold a Camp David summit with Middle East leaders on “day two” of her Presidency, because nobody else has ever thought of that, either.
After another commercial break, the hosts relay a question from a viewer about keeping nuclear weapons away from Iran.
MacCallum is getting pretty ridiculous now. She says that President Obama’s foreign policy for dealing with Iran puts America on the same side as Hezbollah. The rest of her question is incoherent, and Rick Perry jumps in to save the day.
“We need to be on the side that keeps Iran from getting a nuclear weapon — that’s the side that we need to be on,” says Perry. He then says we need to create coalitions in the Middle East that would push back against Iran.
Then Perry says he would have rather had Carly Fiorina negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran as opposed to Secretary of State John Kerry. That was strange.
Perry says the first thing he would do if elected President is to tear up the agreement with Iran.
Hemmer asks Pataki if Kasich got it wrong on Medicaid. Pataki says we should not expand entitlements but that we don’t need to force a cultural change in America.
Pataki says 1 out of every 11 New Yorkers were on welfare when he first ran for Governor of NY. “I changed that,” he says, though he doesn’t get a chance to elaborate. Hemmer cuts Pataki off and demands that he answer the question about whether Kasich was wrong to accept funding for Medicaid expansion. Somebody needs to tell Hemmer and MacCallum that nobody is watching this debate because they are interested in what they have to say.
Next question is about Ohio, which is relevant because they are all in Ohio right now. Question is about why Ohio Gov. John Kasich “got it wrong” in accepting federal money for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
Bobby Jindal gets the first answer. “Under Prez Obama [really, he said “Prez Obama”] and Secretary Clinton, they are working hard to change the American Dream into the European Nightmare.” That might be the lamest line of the night thus far.
Jindal seems overly interested in trying to shoot off one-liners than he is in giving a coherent answer. For example: “If we were to expand Medicaid, for every uninsured person we would cover in Louisiana, we would kick more than one person out of private insurance or remove their opportunity to get private insurance.” Come again?
Jindal blusters on for awhile longer until Hemmer tries to force him to “answer the question” about whether Kasich was wrong to expand Medicaid. Many GOP campaigns had expressed concern in recent days that Fox would be too anxious to push candidates into attacking other Republicans; those concerns appear to have been valid.
Geez, MacCallum is on a rampage. Before turning to Jim Gilmore, she says that “people” will criticize you for being “heartless” if you try to reduce government assistance to help poor people.
Gilmore responds with the same version of an answer we’ve heard from everyone on stage — he says he’ll grow the economy so that everyone can have better jobs. Apparently there is a magic “grow the economy” button that President Obama has not been told about.
Back to Rick Santorum, but first MacCallum jumps on her soapbox about “answering the question” that we need to change the culture in America so that people don’t just accept handouts. She again talks about Americans who are refusing to take jobs when they are offered.
Santorum: “Number one, we have to create better-paying jobs.” Says he would make America #1 in the world in manufacturing jobs. Apparently he has not heard about outsourcing to India and China.
Santorum rambles along about how he eliminated some sort of entitlement reform as a freshman Senator. Santorum is trying to fit too many talking points into one answer, and it makes him incredibly difficult to follow.
We’re back after the second commercial break of the debate. We start with a wide shot of the two moderators; you can see that the Quicken Loans Arena seats behind them are virtually empty.
Now we’re talking about the economy and jobs. MacCallum rattles off some statistics about unemployment rates and food stamps, then says that there is “an increasing willingness in this country to accept assistance. How do you get Americans who are able to take the job instead of a handout?”
This is a awfully presumptuous question, which reminds viewers that they are watching Fox News.
“To all of the Americans who want a better life, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton,” says Lindsey Graham. He then says that he will repeal and replace Obamacare; build the Keystone pipeline; and repair the Dodd-Frank laws.
Graham says that we will never improve the economy or be safe in America unless we change the policies of Barack Obama, then says that Clinton represents a third term for Obama. Graham then spends the next 30 seconds criticizing Hillary and Bill Clinton both.
Then, out of nowhere again, Graham says, “can we all agree that ISIL isn’t the Jayvee team?” Interesting choice of words coming from the Jayvee version of the debate.
“I know the difference between being flat broke, and Hillary doesn’t,” says Graham. Okay, then.
Hemmer asks the same question of Rick Perry, but implores him to “answer the question” in an obvious dig at Santorum.
“Americans are tired of hearing this debate going to what are you going to do about illegal immigration,” says Perry. Says Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to 4 million immigrants.
“The fact is, the border is still porous,” says Perry. Um, isn’t this the same guy who was talking 20 minutes ago about having secured the border in Texas?
“If you elect me President of the United States, I will secure that southern border.” Again, Perry already claimed he did that. WTF?
We’re moving on to immigration. Hemmer begins his question for Santorum by saying that the former Pennsylvania Senator would argue that he has the strongest position on illegal immigration among the 17 GOP candidates. It is a statement more than it is a question, which is strange.
Question finally gets asked: What would you say to immigrant children whose families would be broken apart by your immigration policies?
Santorum says his father spent the first 7 years of his life under Mussolini in Italy because the U.S. wouldn’t let him into America. Santorum says his father didn’t mind, because “America is worth the wait.” This is some syrupy bullshit coming out of Santorum’s mouth.
Santorum says we are a nation of laws and treat everybody equally under the laws, then continues rambling until Hemmer cuts him off.
Hemmer jumps in and thanks the candidates for staying within their allotted time periods for answering questions. Gilmore now gets 30 seconds to answer…something.
Whoa! Gilmore says he “chaired the National Commission on Homeland Security for the United States” and that “we warned about the 9/11 attack before the 9/11 attack occurred.”
Yup — Gilmore just said that he was warning people about 9/11 before it happened.
Gilmore then warns about an “international guerilla movement” in this country. Or, perhaps he just watched one of the Planet of the Apes movies and is talking about “gorilla movement.” Hard to say.
Next question is for Fiorina. Question is about terrorists hiding behind firewalls of American companies online, but how do you balance this against online freedoms for American Internet users?
Fiorina says “it turns out” that we had warning signs and that dots were not connected. It’s not clear which specific attacks she is talking about.
Says we had warnings about Boston Marathon bombers.
Fiorina says we should tear down cyber walls for terrorists in America, as though there is a button for this that everyone refuses to press. Says that we need to shut down cyber walls in China and Russia. Says that we could have prevented some hacking attacks by allowing private companies and the government to “collaborate.”
Fiorina then responds to a follow-up question by affirming that she would call on Google and Apple to cooperate with government agencies in “tearing down” cyber walls, or something. It’s quite possible that MacCallum and/or Fiorina are visualizing the movie “Tron.”
And…we’re back. It is awfully quiet at Quicken Loans Arena — were candidates not allowed to invite supporters? Moderator Bill Hemmer kicks it back to MacCallum for the next question. George Pataki is up now.
Question: There have been 69 ISIS-inspired terrorists arrested in the U.S. President Obama seems reluctant to address the problem. How far would you go to root out these terrorists? Would you put mosques under surveillance? Keep in mind that Republican voters are increasingly concerned with religious freedoms [wait, what?]
Pataki says that free speech does not include the right to recruit people to kill Americans. Pataki says that we have to “shut down their Internet capability” and stop them from preaching in prisons or in mosques about violence against Americans. So much for free speech.
Pataki makes it clear that he doesn’t agree with a long occupation in the Middle East.
Follow-up question goes to Lindsey Graham, who seems more comfortable talking about foreign policy. Graham is asked why Americans should support another war in the Middle East after two conflicts in Iraq.
“If we don’t stop them over there, they are coming here just as sure as I stand here in front of you.” Graham then draws one of those lines in the political sand, saying that every candidate for President should support more troops on the ground.
Graham uses the term “ISIL” instead of “ISIS.” Graham says his policy would be, “Whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to defeat ISIL.”
And with that, Fox cuts to a commercial break…
Apparently we’re moving on from Trump questions already. Bobby Jindal gets to answer a question about how he would deal with ISIS (Fox moderators say that the fight with ISIS is at a standstill).
“Unlike President Obama, I’ll actually name the enemy that we have to confront,” says Jindal, who laments that Obama won’t say the words “radical islamic terrorism” and knocks the President for criticizing “medieval Christians.” Jindal has been trying to position himself as the best candidate for the religious right, so this probably makes more sense in his head than it did coming out of his mouth.
Jindal says he will “take the political handcuffs off the military” and will “arm and train the Kurds.” Jindal seems to be indicating that he would be supportive of “troops on the ground” if that’s what American military leaders think is needed.
It seems that everyone else will get the same question about Trump, because as the moderators remind everyone, Trump is crushing all of them in recent polling.
Fox News talking head
Megyn Kelly Martha MacCallum notes that former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani has said that Trump has some “Ronald Reagan-like qualities.” Clearly Fox is hell-bent on fueling the Trumpmobile as long as it can provide big ratings for the network.
Question: Carly Fiorina, is Trump getting the better of you?
“I don’t know, I didn’t get a call from Bill Clinton before I entered the race,” says Fiorina. “Did any of you get a call from Bill Clinton before you entered the race?” This might have worked better as a joke if Fiorina appeared to have a sense of humor.
“[Trump] is the Party’s frontrunner right now, and good for him. I think he’s tapped into an anger that people feel…The political class has failed you, and that’s a fact.” Fiorina says she would ask Trump about the issues he is running on, because he has changed his position on several ideas.
Fiorina sort of sighs and looks longingly at the camera, clearly annoyed at having had to spend precious air time talking about Donald Trump.
Time for a Donald Trump question for Rick Perry, who gets to explain why The Donald is so popular and why he is not.
“When you look at the celebrity of Donald Trump, I think that says a lot about him,” says Perry, who has been among the most combative Republican candidates fighting with Trump.
“I’ve had my issues with Donald Trump. How can you run for the Republican nomination and be for single-payer health care?” Then, out of nowhere, Perry says that nobody has done more than him to secure the Texas-Mexico border. Says he stood in Dallas in front of President Obama and said, “If you won’t secure the border, Texas will — and that’s exactly what we did.”
Good to know that the border is secure. Guess we can stop talking about that issue, then.
Now we get to hear from “That Guy,” former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.
Question: You haven’t held office for 13 years…is it time for new blood?
Better Question: Who the hell is Jim Gilmore?
Gilmore says he thinks the times are different now and are much more serious, whatever that means. Then he starts reciting his resume, which is as entertaining as it sounds.
Gilmore says that he was Governor of Virginia during 9/11, which somehow gives him foreign policy experience.
Up next: former New York Gov. George Pataki, who is apparently still alive and everything.
Question for Pataki is about why he is running again after dropping out four years ago, and about whether Mitt Romney had a point that the GOP needs “new blood” in 2016.
“I think he means somebody who hasn’t been a career politician and has been out of office for awhile,” says Pataki. We’re going to take a wild guess that this is definitely not what Romney meant.
Pataki says being in the private sector for 8 years has given him a good perspective on government. Talks about how he would be successful, and says he can do it no matter the makeup of Congress because he did it in New York state. Pataki sounds like he is running for Governor of New York again.
“We need new leadership. Yes, I will be that new leader.” Vote George Pataki for President because he hasn’t been an elected official for eight whole years!
Moving right along now to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham. His question is about working with Democrats to combat Climate Change, and whether or not Republican voters can trust him because of this.
“When I get on stage with Hillary Clinton, we won’t be debating about the science, we’ll be debating about solutions.” Pretty good line.
Graham says that Clinton would focus on Cap and Trade, while he would focus on energy independence.
Graham looks really, really nervous. Either that, or he needs to poop.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gets his first question, and it’s another poke in the eye from the moderators. It’s clear there will be no softballs today.
Question: Your approval numbers in Louisiana are in the mid-30s. Hillary Clinton beat you in a head-to-head poll in Louisiana. If the people of your state are not satisfied with you, what makes you think the people of the United States will support you for President?
Jindal says that he has won two races in Louisiana by record margins. Cut 26% of budget. 30,000 fewer state bureaucrats than the day he took office. “I don’t think anybody has cut that much government anywhere at any time.” Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback may beg to differ on that point.
Jindal says, “We’ve been the most pro-life state 6 years in row.” Uh, okay. Jindal is just trying to cram as many message points into one answer as he can.
Jindal says Americans are tired of politicians who read the polls and fail to lead — this may be a theme that we hear repeatedly.
We’re moving along briskly in the early going. Next up is former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who was Colorado’s choice for the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012.
Question for Santorum: You won the Iowa caucus and 10 other states in 2012, but has your moment passed?
Santorum flashes a smile and glare that says “nice question, asshole.” Santorum says that in the 2012 campaign, they were behind where he is today, which seems implausible. Santorum says his 2012 success was because of his vision and his track record in Washington D.C..
“I not only have a great vision, but I can govern effectively in Washington.”
That’s a new approach — touting Washington D.C. experience rather than doing everything possible to distance yourself from D.C.
Next up is former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Her question: Is it a stretch to compare yourself to the “Iron Lady,” former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher?
Fiorina starts by reminding everyone that none of the leaders in polling at this point in previous Presidential elections ended up being top contenders 12 months later.
“I know more world leaders on the stage today than anyone running, with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton,” says Fiorina. This statement will no doubt be fact-checked, but we don’t need to wait to say that Fiorina’s claim is absurd.
First question for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is asked about electability and why he can win in 2016. Back in November 2011, Perry was viewed as one of the frontrunners for the Republican Presidential nomination when he made one of the all-time worst gaffes in Presidential debate history. Remember, “Oops?”
Perry says that as Governor of Texas, he presided over the 12th largest economy in the world. He says Texas added 1.2 million jobs from 2007-2014. Perry says Americans want a track record of success. “Americans are going to see that I’m ready to be that individual” who can talk about foreign and domestic policies.
We’re watching Fox News from Cleveland, Ohio, where the Junior Varsity version of the Republican Presidential debate is getting started. The field of candidates can be viewed in the image above.