Tuning into the Republican primary debates is always a good way to spend a Wednesday night, especially if you’re looking for quality entertainment. Just two days ago, we were blessed to witness yet another throwdown among the top candidates for the Grand Old Party, and this performance had no shortage of drama.
However, the headlines following this debate were not about the candidates, not about the next outlandish comment blurted out of Donald Trump‘s mouth, but rather about the moderators asking the questions. The debate was held in Boulder, Colorado and moderated by CNBC, who took a lot of heat for their repulsive line of questioning.
Rather than focusing on important issues such as foreign policy, gun control, and the government’s role in the economy, the financial network moderators tried to incite petty arguments between candidates, took unwarranted and meaningless personal jabs, and sought out too many “gotcha” moments. CNBC was to put simply, was a rude host, even by Chris Christie’s standards.
Insults ranged from portraying Trump as a comic book villain to questioning Ben Carson’s character. It was not only the insults that upset Republicans, however, but also seemingly irrelevant topics proposed by the moderators. One question asked discussed the federal governments involvement in fantasy football.
The result of CNBC’s insulting and negligent approach? A field day for Republicans. Candidates took advantage of the network’s impoliteness and used it as a platform to criticize the media, and the crowd at Boulder supported the criticisms with applause.
Ted Cruz probably benefitted most from CNBC’s performance. He criticized the moderators for trying to start a “cage match,” to which social media responded favorably. “How about talking about the substantive issues people care about,” Cruz attacked. The senator from Texas achieved the top moment on Facebook thanks to his aggressive criticism.
The GOP even decided to suspend their next debate with NBCUniversal (owner of CNBC) which was set to occur this upcoming February. The decision made by the Republican National Committee came this morning after RNC Chairman Reince Priebus wrote to NBC citing his party’s outrage with the Wednesday night.
So while NBC is the obvious loser, who else emerged from the debate on bottom? Jeb Bush, again.
Once considered the clear frontrunner to take the nomination, Bush is now severely struggling. His performance lacked any real fire and he can’t captivate a stage quite like his brother could. For some reason he decided to direct his attacks at fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, a move that backfired. Bush attacked Rubio’s voting record in the Senate, to which Rubio refuted, then failed to pursue the issue any further. His campaign has a tall task ahead if they expect to rebound from Wednesday and try and salvage a run for the nomination.
I’m also going to say that Ben Carson was a loser on Wednesday. It’s not that he performed poorly, but rather failed to have a signature moment. This has been a common theme for the neurosurgeon in every debate, as his lax personality puts him at a disadvantage against the big egos of Trump and Christie. Some view that as a positive, but in a debate forum I see it as adverse. He should have used his small climb in the polls a few days prior and taken advantage of the debate to solidify the top spot in the Republican race.
Winners of the night included Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Rubio criticized the media for their pro-liberal stance and successfully fought off his home state governor. Kasich went on the offensive early and attacked the non-political frontrunners in Trump and Carson for their lack of ability to lead should they be elected. Time will tell if those two can use their performances effectively to climb into relevancy in the polls.
The debate didn’t quite have the comedy seen in the previous two, but still sufficed as good TV. The next debate will be hosted by Fox Business and the Wall Street Journal on November 10th. We’ll see if they can piss off the GOP some more.