A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: Fox News Debate Edition

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Good morning everyone. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten the time to hang out. I’ve missed you. I half wrote a good 3-5 posts in the last couple months but then it got too far away from the event and I deleted them. This post is therefor the first thing I’m doing the morning after the debates. I do hope I’ll be able to make this a regular thing again with the campaign season kicking off, but without further delay let’s sum up last night’s first Republican debate in that party’s search for a presidential nominee.

This post will largely be a summary, I’m going to keep the major points from each section of the debate. I took notes on every answer, but the notes were twice as long as my average post, so I will leave a few things out. I will have a couple editorial comments, but in places I will leave a candidate’s statements which I find to be stunningly factually inaccurate in tact. If I try to be comprehensive that’s how this post ends up half written and deleted this time next week. The sections of this post will mirror the order of the events in the debate itself. Everybody ready? Morning beverage of choice in hand? Still in your robe? Then away we go.

Do you promise to only run as a Republican?

Trump was the only one who said he would run as a third party candidate if he doesn’t get the nomination. This got a some applause and some boos from the crowd and could lead to an absolutely fascinating campaign season. This scenario deserves a post all by itself, but instead I’d recommend this 538 article which does a good job of summarizing why Trump running as a 3rd party candidate almost guarantees a democratic victory.[1]

General Candidate Questions.

Ben Carson got the first individual question of the night about presidential readiness. It largely asked him why he should be allowed the presidency when he has no political experience of any kind. He responded with, “The most important thing is to have a brain,” My interest was piqued by the strength of the question. That was not a softball to start things off.

Rubio followed with comments stating this can’t be a resume competition otherwise Clinton will win. Which got a mixed reaction from the crowd. Bush immediately gave a long string of resume accolades and seemed to really want it to be a resume competition. He worked hard to respectfully distance himself from his father and brother.

Moderator Megyn Kelly then asked Trump, “You’ve called women you don’t like ‘fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals,'” The audience at the debate started laughing while the list of insults was read, and Trump interrupted to say, “Just Rosie O’Donnell. Kelly pointed out quite sternly that it, “Went well beyond that…Is this the termperment of someone we should elect as president?” Kelly’s tone made it quite clear that she didn’t like how dismissive Trump was being. Here’s a video of the exchange.

His answer was basically that we as a country don’t have time for political correctness and neither does he. After the debate Trump said, “The questions to me were not nice. I didn’t think they were appropriate. And I thought Megyn behaved very badly, personally.”[2]

EDIT: Trump just retweeted the following:[4] When someone calls you out on misogynistic comments, calling them a bimbo usually isn’t the way to go.

Megan Kelly asked several candidates about whether they would ban all abortion even in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s life. Walker says he would indeed try to end all abortion. Huckabee goes on an extended rant trying to bring up something called a ‘DNA Schedule’ to defend the idea that he would also ban all abortions. For the record I have a degree in Biology and have never heard of a DNA schedule and a google search just brings up other professionals in the field saying they haven’t heard of it either.

Kasich is asked about why he expanded medicaid and he lists some excellent stats about how prisoners, the mentally handicapped, and the working poor all have their lives made better and cost the state less if they’re treated wth preventative medicine. He also makes it clear he thinks God wants everyone to care more for people and that included medically.


Trump got applause for saying “I brought up immigration you wouldn’t be talking about it if it weren’t for me,” Got called out by Mike Wallace on not answering the question which also gets applause. He got 30 more seconds to provide any evidence he has that Mexico is purposefully sending trouble citizens and he cited a couple border guards he talked to.

Commercial Break (I find it kind of odd that we have commercial breaks during a presidential nominee debate.)

Rubio stated specifically that a wall is not a good enough solution and doesn’t address the holdup of people who do want to get here legally. He’s the only one to really bring up that our huge backlog of people trying to come in legally does contribute to illegal immigration.

Cruz stated he tried to pass Kate Steinle law on immigration in the senate but, “Our own party blocked it,” It’s interesting seeing the candidates actually bring up problems they have with the Republican party although that seems to largely be Paul, Cruz, and Trump.

National security topic change

One of the most notable exchanges of the night happened next between Christie and Paul.

The ‘hugs’ thing will likely get a lot of airplay. I did have to double take when it went from, “You hugged Obama,” to, “I hugged families of 9/11 victims,” truly that escalated quickly.

Bush is asked about saying his brother’s Iraq War was a mistake and he wouldn’t have invaded. I almost feel bad for him, he will be asked that question every day for the rest of his political life and you can tell how badly he doesn’t want to have the last name that he does.

Carson says removing waterboarding as a tool from our military was a bad choice and should be reversed.


Trump responded with an interesting rant about how easy politicians are to buy and that he had many in his pocket which got him enormous favors whenever he wanted them.


Huckabee also added to what Trump stated about, “Politicians doing the dance of the donor class,” I highlight these two statements because there were no questions about income inequality. A lifelong businessman and a career politician just had this moment of agreeing the rich control politics and then everyone moved on without feeling any need to say put forward a plan to stop it or even to rely decry it as a negative.

Huckabee, Bush, and Rubio all agreed that the federal government has no place in setting any education standards. Huckabee went so far as to call the department of education unconstitutional.

Commercial Break (I notice at this point that the commercial bump doesn’t say ‘Presidential Debate’ or even ‘Republican debate’ It says, “Fox News Debate”)

How will the Republican Candidate take on Hillary Clinton

The question was phrased in a way to call the republican candidate, “He or she,” which comes across as a little hollow when the only woman of the 17 republican candidates was not invited to the debate.

Carson stated he doesn’t think Clinton will be the democratic candidate but didn’t say who he thought it would be.

Economic Growth

Walker is asked about his campaign promise to add a certain number of jobs to Wisconsin and how he’s barely hit half of that. He responded by saying he likes to aim high. I only highlight this because of the number of friends and family I have who still live in Wisconsin and remember that campaign promise as a promise and not a vague, “Aim for the moon and at least you’ll land among the stars,” type of feel good throw away line.

Entitlement Reform

There’s another exchange involving Christie, but this time it’s with Huckabee. Christie states we need to reform social security and gives several ways he would do it. Huckabee responds by saying a promise was made to people and it needs to be kept, so we have to do things like take away Congress’s retirement plan to pay for social security.

Trump is asked about his multiple bankruptcies and he states he simply took advantage of the laws just like everyone else does, but that it shouldn’t reflect on his overall ability to run businesses. That he would do whatever he needed including exploiting loopholes in order to help the country. At this point Trump has said he has bought politicians and used the law to his advantage for personal gain, but that he’s still trustworthy as the president.


Walker says he’d tear up the deal on day one and put all the sanctions back in place. Paul says Raegan negotiated with the soviets, so negotiating with Iran should be on the table. Huckabee goes on about how Iran will literally kill us all and are pointing a loaded gun at our heads. It does line up nicely with his ‘Obama is leading Jews to the doors of the oven’ comment from last week.

Commercial Break

Social Issues

Rubio stated he doesn’t favor a rape and incest exception to abortion bans. Bush braged about how early he defunded planned parenthood, but then went on to state that Trump is dividing the field and that the need for a Republican president is the most important so they shouldn’t attack each other or use a negative tone when talking about the other candidates. Trump responded by saying there are Christians getting their heads chopped off around the world, so there’s no time for tone.

Equal Marriage

Kasich stated unequivocally that he would support his daughters if they came out as LGBT which got applause. He also said even though he fought against marriage equality he has now attended a same sex marriage. I have the feeling ‘I attended a gay wedding’ is going to be this campaign season’s ‘I have a black friend’. Speaking of…

Black lives matter

The only question on the topic is given to Walker who answered that police need more training and we need a better system to punish cops who break the rules, but didn’t address the racial component of the question at all. After one question on the topic we cut to –

Commercial Break (With the first commercial of the break being the trailer for Straight Outta Compton. You can’t make this up.)

Foreign Policy

Trump, “I would be the exact opposite of what we have now. ”

Walker, Huckabee, Christie, and Carson all agree we need to increase the size of the military. Huckabee led with, “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things,” he softened that as he went on, but that’s quite the opening line. I also want to highlight Carson’s statement, “The Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1940,” This is fascinating because the Army Air Corps didn’t exist until 1941 and it didn’t separate to be it’s own branch until 1947, so I’m really curious what he’s comparing the modern air force to.

There was another short spat between Christie and Paul with Paul stating we need to stop sending so much foreign aid to Israel and Chrisite disagreeing. Walker added he thinks we need to send missiles to Ukraine and put troops on Poland’s border with Russia.

Commercial Break (This one had the trailer for the new movie No Escape as the first ad, a movie about an American family getting caught up in an overseas revolution and running for their lives. I doubt this or the Straight Outta Compton were intentional, but I still question their placement given what the previous segments were.)


The last question was a write in question from twitter and it read, “I want to know if any of them have received a word from God on what they should do and take care of first.” The candidates took several opportunities last night to talk about how they would uphold the constitution, so I’d like to quote article VI paragraph 3 of that document, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But do go on.

Honestly everyone gave pretty safe non answers here. No one went full ‘God told me to run and that I’d win’. Kasich did take the opportunity to bring up racial issues on his own saying we are a divided country and God has picked us as a country to be strong and we need to unite again. It was only one sentence, but it was the only time a candidate brought up the issue without being prompted.

Shortly thereafter Carson was prompted to answer both the racial issue and the god question at the same time. He got applause for saying we need to move beyond the race issue and that the bully pulpit is a good place to start healing the divide.

Closing statement

All relatively generic ‘thank you for hosting and please pick me’ style lines.

If you would like to read a full transcript of the debates, you can find it here.[3]

This post is already far too long, so I won’t add to much here. I don’t think the top candidates Bush and Trump did anything to destroy their chances and I think the only other person who did enough to really move the needle was Paul although Huckabee certainly had many hardline conservative quotes last night. I’ll be interested to see the approval numbers over the next couple days. We have six weeks to see the repercussions of tonight before the next Republican Debate.

I plan to be right here on that night, and, with a little luck, several times between now and then.



2 thoughts on “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Nomination: Fox News Debate Edition

    Jo Gilbert said:
    August 7, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this. Well done.

      Reed Perkins responded:
      August 7, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you. I really am going to try to start posting here again. Life got busy fast and right when there was so many interesting things happening in the world.

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