Here, from beginning to end, are my notes in chronological order. Feel free to add your thoughts if you like, or correct me if you think I’ve said something that isn’t right…
Cleary Fox doesn’t like Trump. They’re going after him right out of the gate, asking him if he’d run as an independent, which would essentially hand the election to the Democratic candidate, if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination. He says he won’t agree to do that. Rand Paul yells out that Trump doesn’t really care about the party, that he “buys and sells politicians of all stripes.” Trump responds by saying to Paul, “I’ve given you plenty of money.”
Ben Carson, the only neurosurgeon on the stage, says that having a brain is important.
Marco Rubio gets the first applause line of the night, saying that he’s lived paycheck to paycheck, and struggled to pay off student debt, unlike many in the race. Of the candidates on stage tonight, my sense is that he and Kasich are coming across as the most authentic. [Ted Cruz, who looks like a rubber-faced, black-hearted Scooby-Doo villain, is on the other side of the continuum.]
“In Florida they called me Jeb, because I earned it,” says Bush… What the fuck does that mean? Is “Jeb” a title that’s earned?
Megyn Kelly goes after Trump for being sexist. She quotes him as having described women as “fat pigs.” He says, in his defense, that he only said that about Rosie O’Donnel, and gets a big laugh. Kelly says that’s not true, and that he’s said other misogynistic things. She points to an episode of his television show where he tells a woman that he’d like to see her “on her knees.” He says he refuses to be politically correct, and gets enthusiastic applause. [Republicans are apparently cool with anything you say as long as you say it confidently.] Here’s video, for those who missed it. [Listen to the applause.]
Ted Cruz, when asked how he would operate as President, given his reputation for being a dick, pretty much says, “Yeah, I won’t work with people who disagree with me.” He does so proudly.
Chris Christie says, “If you think it’s bad now, you should have seen it before I got there,” in response to a question about the less than spectacular economic situation in New Jersey.
Scott Walker proudly says he’s voted to defund Planned Parenthood, but refuses to answer directly whether or not he’d allow a woman to have an abortion if not having one would mean certain death.
Huckabee says embryos have protection under the 5th and 14th amendment. He says that “the Supreme Court isn’t the supreme being.” [That was one of many clever one-liners he’d share over the evening.]
Rand Paul says we shouldn’t fund ISSYS, which, I guess, given the way he said it, some people in Congress must want to do.
Kasich, the Governor of Ohio, is forced to defend his expansion of health coverage for the people of his state. He actually seems reasonable, which I suppose isn’t that difficult given the people who surround him. “President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times,” said Kasich. “I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what? To treat the mentally ill,” the Governor said. “Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison. I’d rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life.”
Bush says that he wants more border security, but doesn’t back down on “earned legal status,” which I guess is the Republican way of saying “path to citizenship.” [They beat Obama up so bad for it that they had to come up with their own phrase.]
Trump is asked about his claim that the Mexican government is sending over rapists and drug dealers and that he has evidence of it. He’s asked to share this evidence now. He responds by saying, “We need to build a wall,” which gets applause but doesn’t answer the question… He’s given another 30 seconds to offer evidence. He says border patrol agents told him. Here’s the exchange.
Now they ask Kasich about Trump. [It’s like when the Michigan State football coach does press and people just want to ask him about Jim Harbaugh.] Kasich does a great job of responding. You can’t just tune Trump out, he says. Trump, he tells the FOX moderators, is tapping into something. “People don’t feel as though the government is working for them,” Kasich says. He just won’t take the bait and go after Trump. All of us on the stage want a wall built, and an end to illegal immigration, says Kasich, but we want to go about it different ways. [Rand Paul was the only one to really go after Trump.]
Ted Cruz says Obama is purposefully bringing illegals across the border in order to “fundamentally change” this country.
Asked about civil rights in the post 9/11 world, Christie says that we need to trust law enforcement officials and give them more tools to collect information on people, etc. Rand Paul vehemently disagrees. He says we should “follow the 4th amendment” and require warrants for that kind of activity. Christie says it’s just “hot air,” implying that Paul is more interested in rallying his base than helping keep Americans safe. Christie says that when Paul talks on the Senate floor, it’s not to offer solutions, but to create soundbites that can be used in his fundraising efforts. Paul counters by reminding the audience that Christie once hugged Obama. “I know you gave Obama a big hug,” he says. “I remember the hugs of the people who lost family members in the 9/11 attacks,” Christie responds. Here’s the exchange.
Cruz says we will not beat ISSYS with a President that won’t say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.” Obama, he says, is an “apologist.”
Ben Carson gets a laugh when he’s asked a question and responds by saying, “Thanks, I didn’t think I was going to talk again.” Asked about whether or not he’d allow waterboarding, the doctor says that wars cannot be fought in a politically correct fashion. He also says that he wouldn’t tell anyone what methods our interrogators were using if he were President. [“First do no harm,” indeed.]
Trump is reminded that, 15 years ago, he said he was in support of a single-payer health care system. Trump says it could have worked at the time. Now, though, he says he wants a private system where companies can compete more aggressively. He says he would relax individual state laws to see this happen. Rand Paul interrupts to tell Trump that no one on the stage but him wants a single-payer system. “You didn’t hear me right,” says Trump. “You’re having a rough night tonight,” Trump then says to Paul, getting another big laugh.
Trump is asked about his contributions to politicians on both sides of the aisle. Trump says it’s just business. When he gives money to politicians, he says, he gets stuff in return. It’s a broken system he says, and he’s taken advantage of it for his own personal benefit.
Huckabee is asked about the EPA, IRS, and Department of Education, and whether or not he would cut them. Power should be shifted back to the states, he says. Pass a “fair tax” on consumption, he says, and get rid of the IRS. And move the Department of Education to the states.
Ben Carson says we should change to a system of tithing. No deductions. No loopholes. Just a flat percentage we all pay on our incomes.
Bush, when confronted by evidence that he once said he supported Common Core standards, asserts that he’s as anti-public education as anyone else standing on the stage with him. He says he’s for abundant school choice, that he implemented statewide school vouchers in Florida, and fought the teachers union.
Katich broke my computer… I’m just looking at still frame of his face… It’s not a bad face, I think… I don’t see him as President, but it’s not a bad face.
Bush says he wants to get rid go Obamacare and replace it with something that doesn’t kill jobs.
Damn. Computer crashed. Did a miss a gun fight? Did they fight with canes?
Huckabee says we have to change the tax system to get more money from “illegals, prostitutes, pimps.” [I guess those are the growth industries in the new America of ours.]
Trump, is asked about the people who lent him money and lost billions over the years… I take advantage of the laws of this country, he says, explaining how he bankrupted companies on four occasions because it worked to his advantage. “Everyone else does it,”he says. Trump is specifically asked about Trump Entertainment Resorts, which laid off 1,100 people, and left lenders over $1 billion in the red. Trump says not to feel bad for the lenders. “These people are kilers,” he says. He also says that he made money in Atlantic City, and was smart to walk away before it “cratered.” He got applause for that. “I had the good sense to leave Atlantic City,” he says, looking in the direction of Chris Christie… Basically what Trump is saying is that he’d cheat for the American people, if elected President, instead of against them. That’s basically his whole campaign in a nutshell. [Campaign slogan idea… “Trump: I’ll be an asshole for you.”]
We’re now well over an hour into it and there’s been no mention of global warming. I just realized that. No mention of race either.
Rubio says that we need to repeal the Dodd Frank banking regulations. [Deregulation worked so well in the past, didn’t it?]
They take the opportunity to show a video clip for Carly Fiorina shot earlier in the day, during the debate between the seven candidates who weren’t deemed good enough for prime time. “Iran,” she says, “is at the heart of most of the evil in the Middle East.” [Apparently she’s never heard of Saudi Arabia.] Scott Walker ties Iran and ISSYS together somehow, saying that he would tear up the deal with Iran just signed by Obama.
In discussing the Iran deal, Huckabee says that, where Reagan negotiated with a philosophy of “trust but verify,” Obama employs a “trust and vilify” philosophy. Obama trusts our adversaries, says Huckabee, and vilifies those that disagree with him.
With time running out, I think we’re going to see more crazy as the lesser candidates attempt to dominate tomorrow’s news cycle.
Bush says he created a “culture of life” in Florida, and was the fist to launch a pro-life license plate. [I hope this campaign comes down to which governor was most aggressive in license plate design.]
Rubio says that, if it were up to him, there would be no rape and incest exception when it comes to abortion.
“When did you become a Republican?” the ask Trump. I’m pro-life, he says. And I evolved, like Reagan.
Name calling… They ask Jeb about a story in the news today about him referring to Trump as a “clown” and a “buffoon.” He says there’s no truth to the story that he said those things to a Republican donor… Jeb did say, however, that Trump’s language is divisive. We need a hopeful, optimistic message, he says. We won’t win by being divisive. We need to give people hope, he says.
Trump defends his tone… “We you have people cutting Christians’ heads off… it’s like medieval times. We don’t have time for tone. We have to go out an get the job done.”
Kasich on gay marriage… The court has ruled and we’ll accept it. And I just went to a gay wedding, he says. I can love them. But I believe in traditional marriage. We can’t let this divide us. We need to treat everyone with respect. If god gives me unconditional love, I’m going to give it to those around me, he says.
Rand Paul: “I don’t want my marriage or my guns registered in Washington.”
They finally get around to race, asking Scott Walker a question about Black Lives Matter. He gives a non-answer about the need for better training on the use of force.
Trump on Obama: “I’d say he was incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because I’m nice.”
Cruz reminds everyone that the U.S. hostages in Iran, back in the ’70s, were released the day Reagan took office. He implies that Iran would release the people they’re holding now, in only someone tough like him were elected into office.
Carson says, “our enemies are increasing,” and it’s not helping that “we’ve turned our back on Israel.”
Scott Walker talks about how Putin and others will respect us more if we’re just tougher. He said that Putin probes with a bayonet. “When you find mush, you push,” he says. “When you find steel, your yield.” Apparently Scott Walker is made of steel, and, with him at the helm, Putin and others would cower.
The military is not a social experiment, says Huckabee, when asked about the integration of transgender soldiers. The military, he says, is to kill and break things, and to protect america. Paying for the transgender surgeries of our soldiers, he says, doesn’t make us safer.
Rand Paul: “Stop sending foreign aid to countries that hate us and burn our flag.” Actually, he says, we should pretty must stop foreign aid everywhere. “We cannot project strength from bankruptcy court,” he says.
Everyone at this point starts fighting to say that, if given the chance, he’d spend more on the military than the guy next to him.
Megyn Kelly says god will be making an appearance after this commercial break… The commercial on right now is for a laxative tablet.
Returning from commercial, Kelly asks if any of the candidates on the stage have talked with god. Cruz says he speaks to him through the bible. He also mentions that he’s the son of an alcoholic turned pastor. Kasich says he believes in miracles. He also says some good stuff about how we’re stronger when we’re united, how we need to be respectful of others, and how human rights are important. Scott Walker says something about his sins being washed away “by the blood of Jesus Christ.” As no one fesses up to talking with god, though, Kelly changes her approach, asking Rubio about god and vets, and Carson about god and race.
Rubio: “God has blessed us with some very fine candidates. the Democrats can’t even find one.”
Carson says the discussion of race is driving us further apart. As someone who operates on brains, he says, he looks beyond skin color, at what really matters. It’s our brains, he says, that make us who we are.
Christie: “Stop worrying about being loved, and start worry about being respected.”
Cruz says that on his first day in office, he will undo everything that Obama has done over the previous 8 years, prosecute Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts, cancel the new deal with Iran, and move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Here’s video.
Carson points out that he’s the only person on stage to separate Siamese twins.
Huckabee closes with a joke. He says that, up till this point, the race has been about a person who doesn’t have a clue how to govern, and cannot lead… And, then, just when you thought he was going to callout Trump by name, he said “Hillary.” Big laughs.
Scott Walker closes by saying, “I have a Harley.”
I can’t remember what Bush said at the end. And I don’t suspect that anyone else will either. He was just too bland. Everything he said just kind of washed over me. I can’t imagine that he’ll go far in this race.
Trump gets the last word. He says our country is in serious trouble. “We don’t win any more,” he says. We don’t beat China and Japan in trade. We don’t beat Mexico at the border. He promises to end universal health care if elected President, and “make America great again.”
After leaving the stage, Trump took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the debate.