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Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in 2016 Elections, 2016 Presidential Election, Politics | 15 comments

Big Pressure on at Tonight’s Republican Presidential Nomination Debate


It’s big pressure time for GOPers dreaming of the day when they can move into the Oval Office in January 2017. The race is not as static as it was during the last debate: some of those on the way down remain mired there, some of those expected to perform may have their last chance, and there now appears to be an authentic battle for two Republicans for frontrunner status.

NBC’s Chuck Todd and Mike Murray give an excellent run down in today’s edition of First Read:

Donald Trump: No longer first in all of the state or national polls, can Trump actually handle losing? Last night’s rally in Iowa was, well, interesting: He almost begged the voters to improve his poll position. “Iowa, will you get your numbers up, please?” he said, per NBC’s Ali Vitali. “Will you get these numbers up? I promise you I will do such a good job.”

Ben Carson: Now maybe your new frontrunner in the GOP race, can Carson hold up to the scrutiny, tougher questions, and incoming from rivals that are surely coming his way?

Jeb Bush: As we wrote earlier this week, no one on tonight’s stage is under more pressure to deliver than Bush is. We are approaching make-or-break time for the former GOP frontrunner.

Marco Rubio: After two earlier solid performances, Rubio comes into tonight’s debate as arguably the GOP establishment’s new favorite — and after some rough news coverage about his day job as a U.S. senator. In fact, the Florida Sun-Sentinel called on him to resign if he longer is casting votes.” If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it. Let us elect someone who wants to be there and earn an honest dollar for an honest day’s work.” Wow. Don’t be surprised if some GOP candidates not named Jeb (John Kasich, Chris Christie) go after Rubio here.

John Kasich: Can the Ohio governor deliver on his “Bulworth”/Howard Beale moment of sorts yesterday? “What has happened to our party? What has happened to the conservative movement?” he asked at a rally in Ohio.

Carly Fiorina: She was arguably the star of the last GOP debate, but has since retreated into obscurity. Can she prove she still belongs on the main stage?
Ted Cruz: Can he actually be a PRESENCE at tonight’s debate — after largely being overshadowed in the previous two? He can no longer wait for the campaign to come to him.

Chris Christie: Speaking of big presences, we’re approaching desperation time for Chris Christie, whose poll numbers remain stuck in the single digits. At the previous debate, he clawed and fought like it might be his last one. He’ll have to have the same attitude tonight.

Rand Paul: It’s desperation time for the Kentucky senator, too. And tonight’s debate comes a day after Paul promised to filibuster the recently concluded budget deal. But there’s just one small hitch, per NBC’s Frank Thorp: The rules will allow him to speak for just one hour, and only more than that if another senator yields him time. Bottom line: It won’t be a situation where he gets to speak for hours-on-end.

Mike Huckabee: The best debater of the 2008 cycle has become almost an afterthought in the previous two debates. Can Huckabee finally seize a moment tonight?

I’d argue that the two in biggest political damage are Rubio and Bush. This surely will be Bush’s last chance before he becomes more of a comedian’s punchline than he hs becoming. The operative question still is whether the 2015 Republican Party is buying the NEW! IMPROVED! JEB! product that he is selling, which is still comprised of ingredients from two past products by the same company. And Rubio’s talk about how he hates the Senate could put him on the defensive and even provide the equivalent of a comedian’s “callback” joke (a joke that is repeated several times and a technique used quite often by David Letterman).

Trump and Carson need to gain more ground and hold what they have; the rest of the pack needs to gain more ground. If Bush sags tonight, get ready to read stories that are political obituaries.

FOOTNOTE: TMV will have a roundup on debate reaction after the debate. There will be a major update of it at least twice during the night.

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  • Slamfu

    Who cares about the GOP debate. There isn’t one option up there who isn’t a hack of one stripe or another. Eventually someone will get the nod, and they will be torn apart by either Sanders or Clinton in the general. I’ll call the debate right now. Another festival of bloviation, issue free largely, basically a 3 hour 9 person editorial sprinkled liberally with conservative talking points, most if not all of which are incorrect in either their premise, facts, and/or conclusions. Also, since Carson is #1 now, expect a few extremely quotable sound bites of unusual oddness.

    But hey, maybe they’ll surprise me. Maybe they’ll actually talk about serious topics tonight and use facts. Maybe they’ll be upset about things that are actually happening places outside their own heads. I’m looking forward to it.

    • Slamfu

      Maybe they’ll actually talk about serious topics tonight and use facts.

      Well, they tried on a few occasions to talk about serious topics, but the candidates were too slippery. They just cried about how unfair it was they were being made to actually discuss their positions on things then proceeded to get mad at the moderators for almost making them defend those positions. Why answer the question when you can pivot and score some points by once again going after the “Liberal media” instead?

  • dduck12

    Until this winnows down to a smaller field, I am not hopeful of a meaningful “debate”. Although the Dem “debate” also stank.

    • Slamfu

      I think the best bet for a meaningful debate is Kasich. While I like him less the more I look into him, he is taking a more moderate course and trying to appear as the less extreme of the options above. If we get any substance or reason tonight, it will come from him most likely.

      • JSpencer

        “While I like him less the more I look into him

        Same here, I didn’t know much about the guy going in, so I did a little research, hoping to discover that rare breed of sensible republican. Imo, his record and positions don’t paint the picture of a moderate.

        • tidbits

          Kasich came to congress as a 1990’s style hardline conservative who fit in with the Gingrich revolution. He remains pretty much in that space, though perhaps a touch more pragmatic. His problem is that a 1990’s style hardline conservative is now spelled RINO by many in the party and that reduces his chances of grabbing the nomination.

          He is more rational than the rest, but I still don’t want him nominating Supreme Court justices.

    • SteveK

      Although the Dem “debate” also stank.

      Yep, “They’re all the same”™ “Both Sides Do It!”™

      Except that when the Democrat’s debated they didn’t yell at each other… Or, with the possible exception of Jim Webb, at their hosts… Or cry poor me when they didn’t like a question. Did I mention that the questions asked and answers given were substantive?

      That said, I imagine that if it were not for the tone and tenor of the Dems debate… If you simply didn’t like, or agree with, what you heard you could say that their debate stank too.

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