Thursday night gave us the very first GOP primary debate of the 2016 election season, brought to you by the Republican gatekeeper, Fox News. The thing became Must-Watch TV due to the involvement of living cat toy Donald Trump. Oh yeah, and nine other dudes showed up.
Against all better judgement, I made the decision to do a running diary of the debate. Well, let’s see if I can make it all the way through this without passing out drunk from trying to numb the pain or throwing my computer against the wall due to all the pandering and attempts to outdo Trump.
7:57 PM CT: A bunch of awkward attempts at humor and small-talk amongst the moderators (Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace). Please, just stop.
7:59 PM: Kelly trying to sell Carly Fiorina’s performance. Now the moderators are justifying the 10-candidate limit.
8:00 PM: OK, that was weird. Everything suddenly went silent so they could do the super-awesome intro they paid the nerdy geek guys to create.
8:01 PM: Intro time! The Donald gets a somewhat subdued round of applause. Scott Walker gives a wink to crowd. Ohio Governor John Kasich, predictably, gets a standing ovation. (Debate is in Cleveland.)
8:03 PM: Baier makes his 20th LeBron James joke. Then he goes full troll on Trump by forcing him to raise his hand regarding him possibly running as an independent. This results in our first Trump fight as Rand Paul attacks him for hedging his bets. (Most of the crowd booed Trump for not promising to support the Republican nominee if he didn’t win the nod.)
8:06 PM: Ben Carson gets the first question from Kelly. She hammers him on all of his flubs when asked policy questions. He gives a nothing answer in response, showing he hasn’t done his homework, but it doesn’t matter with this crowd.
8:09 PM: Marco Rubio is the first to attack Hillary Clinton. He won’t be the last.
8:10 PM: Baier asks Jeb Bush about dynastic politics and how people may be sick of seeing the same people from powerful families running for office. Jeb responds by reciting his resume.
8:11 PM: Oooooh. Megyn Kelly going hard after Trump about his misogyny. Trump gets an applause line for saying he only called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig.” He says he doesn’t have time for political correctness because America is always losing. Trump gets booed by telling Kelly he shouldn’t be so nice to her anymore for asking that question.
8:13 PM: Wallace questions Ted Cruz about being a divisive figure. Cruz gives his typical bullshit answer, referencing the debt and mean ol’ liberals. He does get a decent amount of applause.
8:15 PM: Baier asks Christie why anyone should vote for him when people in New Jersey don’t even like him. Christie uses a bunch of numbers to make his case. C’mon Chris, don’t you know that GOP voters don’t want to hear numbers from you?
8:16 PM: Kelly questions Walker about his harsh anti-abortion stance, even in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother. Walker namedrops Planned Parenthood for an applause line.
8:18 PM: Wallace asks Mike Huckabee about his electability over his social stances, especially regarding abortion. Oh my fucking GOD, he doubled down on his position that he’d sic federal troops on abortion providers.
8:19 PM: Rand Paul sounds just like his daddy on foreign policy. Isolationism all the way!
8:20 PM: Megyn wants to know why conservatives should trust Kasich since he expanded Medicaid because they all want to shrink government. The guv pushes compassionate conservatism and gets the crowd to roar in approval over his Ohio budget.
8:22 PM: Wallace hammering Bush with a question on illegal immigration, quoting him on his ‘act of love’ comment in the past. Bush tries to sound conservative by riling about sanctuary cities. Also, he makes sure to attack Obama, hoping to get some right-wing love. Tepid response.
8:24 PM: Wallace asks Trump to speak directly to Bush about his proof regarding his statements that the Mexican government is sending illegal immigrants to the U.S. Trump totally avoids answering the question within the first minute. Wallace gives him 30 more seconds. Trump just says border patrol told him because we are stupid and Mexico’s leaders are smart. Man, that was SOOOOOO bad! Crowd is totally turning on him.
Commercial break! I think I can still hear Trump yelling how everyone is stupid (except him and Mexico’s president).
8:29 PM: Back from break, Kasich is asked about Trump’s remarks. Kasich starts out by kissing Trump’s ass so he won’t get called a loser by him. See, Trump is touching a nerve. He refuses to answer the question.
8:31 PM: Rubio is next. He actually tries to answer by giving a little bit of substance. The Senator promotes his immigration reform plans. He still sort of avoids criticizing Trump directly.
8:33 PM: Walker gets called out for flip-flopping on comprehensive immigration reform. Walker blames Obama. Fuck I need a drink already.
8:34 PM: Of course, Ted Cruz supports Bill O’Reilly’s ‘Kate’s Law’ regarding defunding sanctuary cities. Complains about Obama trying to fundamentally change this country. Also, the Canadian-born Cuban totally hates amnesty.
8:36 PM: Patriot Act question to Christie. A chance for Christie to talk tough. Kinda decent round of applause.
8:37 PM: Paul jumps in with his super-libertarian rhetoric about invasion of privacy. Paul and Christie now get into it! Paul with a gut punch regarding Christie hugging Obama. Christie responds that he hugged a bunch of families on 9/11, which was followed by a super-smug eye roll by Paul. That was interesting!
8:40 PM: How will Cruz defeat ISIS in 90 days? Cruz: “Radical Islamist terrorism, blah blah blah, jihad, blah blah blah, kill the MOOSLIMS, blah blah blah, I CAN DO IT! Not that apologist Obama!” Got him a nice ovation from the crowd.
8:42 PM: Kelly wants to know how Bush will respond to people in Iraq who were happy that we invaded their country, since Bush had to be eventually prodded into saying the Iraq War was a mistake. Bush’s answer: Obama’s fault.
8:43 PM: Uh-oh, Walker is asked a foreign policy question. But, Walker knows how to answer…it’s Obama’s fault.
8:44 PM: Carson finally gets another question. The good doctor says we should use secretive torture because of political correctness. Carson refers to himself in the third-person. Carson knows what Carson wants to do in a Carson administration.
8:46 PM: Trump gets an Obamacare question. Gets called out on his support of single-payer health insurance. Of course, Trump answers by saying he was against the Iraq War. Trump answers with a bunch of gibberish that gets no reaction. He does get some ooohhhs from the crowd for attempting to smackdown Paul after Paul says he’s on the wrong side if he’s for single-payer.
8:49 PM: The Donald struggles to answer why he’s supported Democrats in the past. He’s kind of saved when Walker says we should go after Hillary for being a disaster as a Secretary of State.
8:50 PM: Huckabee with some states-rights stuff and talk about the founders. Carson jumps in with his tithing tax plan. This is fucking insane. Carson says everyone gets treated the same way under a Carson presidency, says Carson about Carson. 10% flat tax. My head hurts.
8:53 PM: Bush tries to win over the conservatives who hate him for supporting Common Core. Says he loves vouchers and charter schools. Nobody in the crowd is buying it.
8:54 PM: Rubio is given a chance to attack Bush over education standards. Moderators want more fights. MORE FIGHTS PLEASE!
Another commercial break. Thank God!!! Whiskey time!
8:59 PM: OK, Wallace is saying that Hillary is going to use class warfare against the GOP nominee. Open season on Clinton now! Kasich gets to leadoff. According to the hometown hero, it is all about economic growth. (i.e. cut taxes)
9:01 PM: Carson says Hillary will likely not be the nominee. Alinsky reference. *Drink* Says that Hillary wants to destroy the country on purpose, or something like that. Lots of crazy there. LOTTA CRAZEE!
9:02 PM: Jeb says we just need to have lofty expectations to make the economy grow faster. Oh, and cut taxes. And blame Obama. Also, the Keystone XL pipeline will magically solve everything.
9:04 PM: Walker questioned on his crappy jobs growth record as Wisconsin governor and how he didn’t meet his promise of bringing in 250,000 jobs. Totally avoids the question but says shit about Obamacare and Hillary, so he gets some claps. Good lord.
9:06 PM: Christie says he’d raise the retirement age for Social Security and means test on Medicare and SS. Says if we don’t deal with it we will be bankrupt.
9:07 PM: Huckabee says he can save Medicare and Social Security without reform and by cutting taxes. For some reason Huckabee thinks people start working in this country at age 14. Also says Obamacare stole $700 billion from Social Security.
9:09 PM: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! MORE FIGHTS! Huckabee and Christie going back and forth. Huck blames the freeloaders and pimps for hurting Social Security. I can’t…
9:10 PM: Trump gets asked about his bankruptcies. Wallace wants to know why he should be trusted with the country’s finances. Says he just took advantage of the country’s laws and nobody talks about the others who went bankrupt. Talks about how great he is. Wallace presses him on his bankruptcies and how he’s hurt lenders and employees. Trump just boasts and boasts some more about his greatness. Again, the response is tepid, but he does receive some cheers (and boos).
9:13 PM: Rubio gets a Facebook question regarding small businesses in a global economy. Rubio: “Cut taxes, repeal Obamacare, repeal Dodd-Frank, cut more taxes.”
9:15 PM: Ruh-roh, Obama Iran question. Time for them to let their Obummer flag fly!
9:16 PM: Baier wants to know what Walker would do if he’s President and the Iran deal is already undone. Walker just says that Obama sucks and that he’d make a good deal with all of our allies. He also says he would rip up the deal if it was still in place.
9:17 PM: Paul at least tries to sound reasonable regarding the deal. He says he opposes the deal but won’t get rid of it if he takes office and it’s in place.
9:18 PM: Huckabee lets lose with his End Days shit regarding the Iran deal. Very stately and presidential, Huck.
Commercial break! Pass the Canadian Mist, please!
9:23 PM: Bush gets grilled about Planned Parenthood and abortion. Apparently, he was involved with a charity that contributed to PP. Bush makes sure everyone knows he hates abortion and Planned Parenthood.
9:25 PM: Rubio tells Megyn Kelly that he is totally for personhood. He doesn’t support abortion in times of rape and incest, dammit.
9:27 PM: Trump getting pushed by Kelly on his pro-life stance and when it was he actually became a Republican. He tries to backtrack from his previous pro-choice comments by name-dropping Ronald Reagan and saying he was a businessman so, ya know, he has to be given some flack. Nobody in the crowd is buying his shit. Not looking good for The Donald.
9:28 PM: Bush denies he ever called Trump an asshole. Blames it all on Obama and Hillary. Does say that he doesn’t like Donald’s language.
9:29 PM: Trump says he needs to act like a dick because people are cutting off Christians’ heads and it is medieval times.
9:30 PM: Kasich says he would of course accept his daughter if she came out as gay. Gets a lot of support from the crowd for that line.
9:31 PM: Fuck, the goddamn religious freedom bullshit. Paul brings guns into his answer, for some fucking reason. Says we need to resist when our religion is under attack.
9:32 PM: Walker asked about #BlackLivesMatter. He totally punts on the question, saying it is all about police training. Pussy!
Commercial break! Feeling like I should shotgun a beer at this point.
9:36 PM: Trump asked about how to deal with Putin and others in the world. Trump just says he’d be so totally different than Obama and no one knows what they’re doing. Still, no actual answer. Just a bunch of babble. Once again, tepid response from the crowd. (Though one lady gave a howl during his answer.)
9:38 PM: Cruz given a question about cyber attacks. Cruz answers by saying Obama is “leading from behind.” Mostly just a bunch of ‘Obummer sucks’ bullshit from Cruz. Ehh, goes the crowd.
9:40 PM: Carson very confused about a Syria question. So he just kind of goes stream of consciousness by saying some stuff about the military. He then makes some spurious claims about the world stage, but he ends by blaming Obama, so all’s good.
9:41 PM: Walker, who liked Carson’s answer, answers a foreign policy question by making a Hillary Clinton email server joke. He says he’d be all about strength and using the military all over the world.
9:42 PM: Huckabee asked about transgender soldiers in the military. Do I even need to type out his response? I’d rather just take another drink.
9:44 PM: Paul sounds like the obnoxious douchebag in high school that you always knew was into date rape and pretended he was totally smart while getting straight Cs. He also says that he is done with giving aid money to other countries.
9:45 PM: Christie wants to greatly expand the military because he’s a super tough guy.
9:46 PM: Ted Cruz wants to jump in but the moderators say no. Instead, we will get one last ad break before they get to make their closing statements.
Commercial break! I’m not drinking anymore. I’m chugging!
9:50 PM: Oh, for fuck’s sake. We are going to get a question regarding if God has talked to any of the candidates. Cruz talks about how much of a Christian he is and that he reads the Scriptures daily. He then transitions that into a typical stump speech. However, he stays clear from saying God told him to run.
9:51 PM: Kasich asked the same thing. He says he believes in miracles and he has a close relation with God. He states the Lord isn’t picking us but he does think God loves America.
9:53 PM: Walker says God hasn’t picked him personally. However, he does think he’s done enough that God would be proud of him.
9:54 PM: So, how about the vets? Rubio takes a shot at the Democrats by saying they have no veterans among their candidates. (OK, how many are on this stage tonight? NONE!)
9:55 PM: Carson asked about God and race cuz he’s black. Carson doesn’t want to talk about race in a Carson presidency per Carson. It is all about being color-blind since he’s a neurosurgeon and all. He also implied that black protesters are trying to destroy America.
9:56 PM: Kasich is the first one to get a closing statement. Reads off his resume as one would expect. Also makes sure to talk about his private sector experience. Goes over the bell and gets a big round of applause as he makes sure to say ‘Ohio’ a bunch.
9:57 PM: Christie up next. He makes sure to say he locked up terrorists and that he’s pro-life. Also criticizes Obama.
9:58 PM: Paul says he’s a different kind of Republican. Points out that he’s talked to black people recently.
9:59 PM: Rubio lets everyone know he’s Cuban and he came from a working-class family. However, he will do what white conservatives tell him to do.
10:00 PM: Ted Cruz will do everything to wipe Obama’s name out of the history books. He’ll then go after Planned Parenthood. Also, he’ll get rid of the Iran deal.
10:01 PM: Carson gets a laugh by talking about all the awesome stuff he’s done as a neurosurgeon. The rest is just bland pablum.
10:02 PM: Huckabee uses his closing statement to make everyone believe he’s talking about Trump when he was actually ripping Hillary.
10:02 PM: Walker points out he survived a recall so that is why he should be elected.
10:03 PM: Bush crunches his stump speech into roughly 45 seconds.
10:04 PM: Trump calls the country a bunch of losers. Says everyone is killing us. We need to end Obamacare. This time around, a so-so response, but far from the loudest.
I made it! Sheesh! That was rough! Anyway, Kasich did a lot to bolster his campaign. Paul made sure to get noticed by being super-feisty. Bush held his own and didn’t get flustered. Trump was just godawful, but will that even matter? Who knows at this point. We’ll see you at the next one. Maybe.
Image via New Yorker