On Wednesday night, CNN hosted the second Republican Presidential Debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. The debate was broadcast to a national audience and gave eleven different Republican candidates the opportunity to show the country why they should represent the Republican Party in the 2016 presidential election. It was certainly an interesting debate with controversial maverick-celebrity-politician Donald Trump drawing a great deal of attention to himself.
It was apparent from the outset of the debate that many of the candidates were taking aim at Trump. This was great for the party because there is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump and his brand of politics have continued and will continue to damage the Republican Party’s brand. Trump has dominated the polls recently, but more seasoned debaters, such as businesswoman Carly Fiorina and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, seemed to shine brighter than the media mogul, who was repeatedly attacked with success by Fiorina. At one point, these attacks seemed to make Trump blush and uncomfortable, something others have been trying to do during Trump’s meteoric rise up the polls.
Others candidates, such as former Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, seemed to have been given mixed reviews from most political pundits. The person who seemed to struggle the most was Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who looked awkward and sweaty and whose poll numbers have dropped significantly over recent months. This is a highly disappointing development for me and many within the Republican Party who saw Walker as a rising star in the party.
Wildcard Sen. Rand Paul excelled in the limited time he was given, and he still seems to be a presence in this race (and on this campus as well). The debate was meant to pit the candidates against each other, and all of them seemed to take
aim against Trump (almost as much as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama).
The effects of this debate are still to be determined, but I still feel the Republicans would be best served to run a moderate such as Bush or Kasich or a person who could unite the different factions in the party if they want to win. I also think it would be a good idea to avoid running Trump, which would frankly be disastrous for the party’s brand and something from which we might not be able to recover.