The sixth GOP debate was held in my former town of North Charleston, South Carolina, in the convention center where I saw a bull riding contest (or so my parents tell me) when I was ten. Over two hours might have been a little long and repetitive, but everyone came prepped with ammo against their competitors. Needless to say, last night, it was the stage for jokes, ribs, defending one’s record, and debates over ISIS, tax reform, and the latest State of the Union address which Chris Christie called “Storytime with Barack Obama.”
As predicted, Trump and Cruz stopped playing “Friends” and jousted over Cruz’s Canadian birth and Trump’s New York values. Cruz said they didn’t need legal advice from Trump. Trump used the words “horribly” and “angry” without really getting specific about how he was going to change the “horrible” country. At one point, it got so heated Rubio interjected, “Hate to interrupt this session of CourtTV” to get back on topic. “I guess the bromance is over,” Trump told CNN’s Dana Bash afterward.
Cruz and Trump weren’t the only ones to duel. Chris Christie and Marco Rubio parlayed as well. Rubio accused Christie of supporting Common Core education standards, gun control laws and Planned Parenthood. Christie, echoing a Rubio comeback against Jeb Bush at a debate last fall, accused the senator of attacking him because he was advised it would work politically. He said he never “wrote a check to PP” (okay, maybe he used his credit card then…same thing).
In an effort to put on a late-night rally, Rubio attempted to break down Cruz’s record, but Cruz was ready.
He hit Cruz on immigration, trade and voting against Department of Defense funding — and in doing so, he alluded to a potentially damaging theme against Cruz: That he’s willing to say and do anything to win.
“That is not consistent conservatism, that is political calculation,” Rubio said.
Not only did the candidates up the anty on questioning each other’s records, but they emphatically stated how they would be different from Obama or Hillary Clinton. Hillary couldn’t handle sensitive information and lied to the families involved in Benghazi. Obama was referenced as a “petulant child.” Ben Carson was surprised to get a question so early on in the debate that he quipped “I was going to say wake me up when it’s my turn.”
This was the second-to-last debate before Iowa, so candidates were turning up the heat so to speak, with even Kasich getting more bold about turning the country around.
It will be interesting what unfolds in the days and months ahead.
Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey