ROMNEY WORDSWORTH – Last night the Republican Presidential Primary field of candidates held their third debate in Boulder, Colorado. The debate was “moderated” by CNBC with an all star team of Democrat Party hacks, character assassins, and outright liars. These were Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood, who were both continually booed by the audience and castigated by the candidates for asking the most unfair, inane, and insulting questions of all time.
A paraphrased sampling of some of the most obnoxious questions:
To All Candidates: What is your biggest weakness? (in other words, tell us in your own words why you are unfit to be President)
To Donald Trump: Aren’t you just running a comic book version of a presidential campaign?
To Ben Carson: I (John Harwood) can’t make the math add up on your tax plan.
To Carly Fiorina: The Hewlit-Packard Board of Directors fired you. I just wondered why you think we should hire you now?
To Marco Rubio: You have a lack of bookkeeping skills. You accidentally inter-mingled campaign money with your personal money. You faced foreclosure on a second home that you bought. And just last year, you liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund. That’s something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties.
In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy. What do you say?
To Carly Fiorina: You want to reduce the tax code from 70,000 pages to 3. Is that using really small type?
To Marco Rubio: Do you hate your job?
To Ted Cruz: Does your opposition to raising the debt limit show that you’re not the kind of problem-solver American voters want?
To Ben Carson: Why would you serve on a company whose policies seem to run counter to your views on homosexuality?
In a refreshing change of pace, the candidates for the most part didn’t just take the abusive tone of the questions without firing back. Ted Cruz started the counter-attack:
CRUZ: You know, let me say something at the outset. The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.
(APPLAUSE) This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions — “Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?” “Ben Carson, can you do math?” “John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?” “Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?” “Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?”
How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about?
CRUZ: The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, “Which of you is more handsome and why?”
CRUZ: Let me be clear. The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.
Other candidates then struck back as well:
CHRISTIE: What we should do is to be investing in all types of energy, John, all types of energy. I’ve laid out…
HARWOOD: You mean government?
CHRISTIE: No, John. John, do you want me to answer or do you want to answer?
How are we going to do this?
Because, I’ve got to tell you the truth, even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude. So…
CNBC set out to make a political snuff film, with the goal of taking out each and every Republican candidate on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign. Overall, their strategy seemed to be to starve Donald Trump and Ben Carson of air-time, a tacit recognition that their past attacks on both candidates only helped them. On the other hand, the CNBC panel has learned nothing, since they last night made repeated futile attacks on Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, only succeeding in elevating them and making them look good. Rand Paul was also ignored, as liberal standard operating procedure, to never give a genuine fiscal conservative any airtime.
Instead, the panel lavished John Kasich with the most air time (at least it seemed that way to me watching the debate). Kasich is the Poster Boy for Blanket Amnesty and an expansion of programs like Medicaid. He is polling at 0% with Republican Primary voters, so of course the Leftists at CNBC showered him with love.
Let’s get to the scoring now:
THE BIGGEST LOSER: Besides the profession of journalism, the biggest losing candidate was Jeb Bush. No energy, not much air time, and Bush keeps repeating the same mistakes. In an election cycle where the electorate is mistrustful and downright hostile to the Political Establishment, Jeb Bush keeps touting his record as governor, reminding everyone that he is a member not only of the Washington Establishment, but one of its ruling dynastic families. Bush was the only one to resonate with the Moderators, joining their attack on Rubio for missing some votes while running for President. It was particularly politically tone deaf for Bush to do this, in front of an audience openly booing the Moderators.
The Jebbernought has broken its keel on the rocky shoals of voter anti-establishment mood. The engine room is flooded, the Donor Class is abandoning ship. Do not be surprised if Jeb withdraws before the first ballots are cast.
THE BIGGEST WINNER: Drudge and CNBC polls immediately after the debate had Trump as the winner, and while he did not do badly, I would say Ted Cruz was the winner for the best lines, and best exposure, with Marco Rubio a close second. Expect both to see a bounce in their poll numbers post-debate.
THE BIGGEST SURPRISE: The biggest surprise of the night, for me, was Mike Huckabee endorsing Donald Trump for President. I’m not sure what cabinet position Huckabee is auditioning for in a Trump Administration, but his unreserved praise of Trump as a candidate who would make a great president made the biggest impression on me. So much for the media narrative of Trump as a clown, or a comic book villain.
FADING FAST: If it were possible, John Kasich would go into negative numbers after rubbing primary voters noses in his big statist vision of government. Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul just failed to stand out in the crowd. While Chris Christie had some great lines, and does well on the debate stage, it is hard to overlook that he is running as the Authoritarian Police State candidate. I expect Christie to hang on until New Hampshire, where he has put all his chips on the table. After that it will be a quick exit back to Trenton.
MISS CONGENIALITY: Mike Huckabee always strikes the most conciliatory, and least combative tone, toward the other candidates.
TREADING WATER: I have to give this one to Ben Carson. I don’t think he got much air time. While he deftly deflected the attacks of the Moderators, his lines were not memorable. If you already like him as a candidate, then he did nothing to lose your vote. If you already prefer another candidate, he probably said nothing to gain your vote.
MOST DISHONEST MOMENT: John Harwood trying to deny that Donald Trump had forced CNBC to shorten the debate from 3 hours to 2. It was widely reported in the press. Harwood’s willingness to tell such a blatant lie on air just to try to deny letting Donald Trump take credit for showing strong negotiating skills was truly appalling.
In the greatest irony of the evening, Reince Preibus was tweeting his disgust at the biased moderating of CNBC. Well, Reince, YOU were the dummy who threw the Republican candidates to these wolves. Time to try something else.