And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – especially if you’re CNN. Tonight we get the second debate of Republican candidates for President of These United States, and the must-see factor is high. Whether this faceoff from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, can match the 24 million viewers Fox News scooped for the first debate on August 6 is iffy, but CNN has been plugging it for weeks, even installing a countdown clock for the past several days. The main draw, of course, is Donald Trump the USFL owner/real estate mogul/political correctness advocate’s nightmare who is the front-runner in every poll. But closing in on him is a man who was all but an afterthought a month ago: retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who will pick brains at his leisure tonight. And even longer shot five weeks ago was former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who was so far back in the polls that Fox News relegated her to the junior-circuit pre-primetime debate among the seven lowest-polling candidates. Most pundits agreed that her performance that night, basically showing her male rivals how it’s done, got her the invite to the grownups table tonight.
Also onstage tonight are former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Follow along as we pick out the best, worst, funniest, saddest and most outrageous moments of the reality TV show that is the second Republican debate of the 2016 presidential race. CNN’s Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt are your moderators. Let the follies begin.
Kids’ Table debate was pretty lively. During kids’ table debate, question-asker Hugh Hewitt quizzed former NY Gov. George Pataki about breaking that GOP loyalty pledge when he recently said he would not vote for a GOP White House candidates Donald Trump. Pataki insisted he’s not breaking any because no way is Trump going to be the nominee.
Final Kids’ Table question: the four GOP candidates
got asked sell the one thing they offer that the big table candidates can’t
offer. Former NY Gov. Pataki: said he’s a conservative Republicanwho managed to get elected in and govern liberal New York. Former PA Sen. Rick Santorum boasted his outsider-ness,
saying he came from a “tough state” and “made thing happen” in Washington. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he’s a “do-er not a
talker,” and madder at GOP than at POTUS because at least Obama is
a “socialist who at fights for what he believe in.” S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he has a plan to “win a war we
can’t afford to lose” and mocked Trump for saying he gets his knowledge of
foreign affairs from watching TV
My drinking game does not include
taking a snoot-full any time Donald Trump mentions his terrific polling numbers or his wealth, because that’s too easy and for amateurs. I am however, going to
toss one back whenever a candidate calls Kentucky’s county clerk Kim
Davis a hero or a martyr for religious principles.
Final Kids’ Table question: the four GOP candidates got asked sell the one thing they offer that the big table candidates can’t offer. Former NY Gov. Pataki: said he’s a conservative Republicanwho managed to get elected in and govern liberal New York. Former PA Sen. Rick Santorum boasted his outsider-ness, saying he came from a “tough state” and “made thing happen” in Washington. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he’s a “do-er not a talker,” and madder at GOP than at POTUS because at least Obama is a “socialist who at fights for what he believe in.” S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham says he has a plan to “win a war we can’t afford to lose” and mocked Trump for saying he gets his knowledge of foreign affairs from watching TV
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wins for best self introduction, noting not one of the bunch is a socialist and no
one is under investigation. “We are the A Team,” he said, adding they even have
their own Mr. T “who doesn’t mind saying about others, ‘You’re a fool.”
Is that the first time Chris Christie ever uttered the words, “I’d like you to take the camera off me”?
Jake Tapper didn’t let Carly Fiorina get away with a non-answer — even though she repeated herself.
And Ron Paul calls out Donald Trump for his non-answer. Dance, dance, dance…
Carly Fiorina dodged Jake Tapper question about her having called Trump an entertainer, not presidential material. Trump says Rand Paul shouldn’t be on the stage because he’s polling at 1% and there are too many people on stage. Paul makes some remark about Trump attacking him on his looks. Trump: “I never attacked him on his looks and believe me there is plenty of subject there.”
Gestures, bluster and not-so-humblebrags from Trump. Surprise!
Several non-Trump candidates waste a lot of
time attacking Trump. The businessman is the icon of the Republican party.
Trump is slaying them with the Republican audience, which does not want to see a businessman attacked for being a businessman. Or, I’ve just had too much to drink because Trump has been talking about his terrific polls and his personal financial success. (hiccup!)
“If I were sitting at home and watching this back and forth, I’d be inclined to turn it off.”
— The moment Ohio Gov. John Kasich was banned from CNN for life.
Carly Fiorina: Outsiders are at the top of GOP polls because
“someone who’s been in the system their whole life doesn’t know how broken it
is. A fish swimming in water doesn’t know it’s water.”
Moderator questions are typical political-reporter shallow – all about the horse race. “Take a swing at The Donald, please” and throwing out the “outsider” meme to the panel.
Trump reminds us how much donation money he has turned down. That’s like a fish turning down a glass of water.
Trump in re Jeb Bush: “More energy tonight — I like that!”
Trump: “Don’t make things up, Jeb.” I’m calling the trademark on that. Badges, posters, stickers and T-shirts.
Ben Carson cuts in — sorry, couldn’t resist — because he hasn’t had a chance to speak. Flashback to August 6 on Fox News.
Huckabee: President Obama “treats the Iran deal like the Magna Carta, but the Iranians treat it like toilet paper.” He’s on a roll…
In case you’re keeping score: So far Trump, Paul and Kasich are for actually talking to tough-guy foreign leaders. Cruz, Walker, Fiorina – no talking.
Why do i feel that if I haven’t heard from trump in a few minutes – it’s like having to check my twitter feed?
Ben Carson has done brain surgeries that took less time than the span between his turns at the microphone tonight.
Trump never jumps in to say ‘Hey, look at me!’
Huckabee is nothing if not passionate about that Kentucky clerk/gay marriage thing.
“Religious conscience is a first freedom,” Bush says. Paging John Hancock.
CNN’s moderators are using the candidates’ previous statements against one another. Picking fights = viral moment?
Huckabee finds his sweet spot: We made accommodations to the muslim detainees who killed Americans (in Gitmo)” but not Kim Davis? “What else is it but the criminalization of Kim Davis’ faith and the exhalation of everyone else.”
Dig Christie’s lime green wristband. I think that’s from Springsteen’s 2012 show at the Meadowlands.
Tapper, of course, brings up Trump’s quote about Fiorina’s face. CNN, of course, goes to split screen of them. And the directing Emmy goes to…
“I think women heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said” (about her face) Carly Fiorina says when asked by Jake Tapper to comment. Wild applause.
“I think she’s got a beautiful face and she’s a beautiful woman,” Trump responded. Yikes. That has to be the worst thing that’s happened to Trump so far tonight, and it was self-inflicted.
And the first two commercials are for a movie about chess, a power company and a product that tackles toenail fungus. Now we’re getting to the real issues facing Americans.
OK, any of you L.A. folks remember Jim Healy’s radio show? If
so, let’s compare what Trump just said about Fiorina to what then-New England
Patriots owner Victor Kiam said after one of his players had
treated a woman reporter badly:
Trump: “I think she’s got a beautiful face and she’s a
Kraft: “She’s a lovely lady and my
apologies to her.”
Ah, old rich white guys.
OK, any of you L.A. folks remember Jim Healy’s radio show?
If so, let’s compare what Trump just said about Fiorina to what then-New England Patriots owner Victor Kiam said after one of his players had treated a woman reporter badly:
Trump: “I think she’s got a beautiful face and she’s a beautiful woman.
Kraft: “She is a lovely lady and my apologies to her.”
Ah, old rich white guys.
Michael Smerconish on CNN before the pre-primetime debate: “I
think arguably you’re better off being one of the four on the stage that’s
about to play out now than one of those candidates on the periphery of the main
stage because, look, the entire nation is tuned in right now to CNN. This is … like a
Super Bowl. They’re getting a lot of attention for just four individuals; I
think you’d rather be one of the four than perhaps one of the 11.” Replied Ana
Navarro, shaking her head: “I think you’re totally wrong on that. Let me tell you,
there isn’t one of those four that wouldn’t rather be on the big stage than the
Jeb misses his opportunity of the evening, when he told Trump to apologize to his wife and, when Trump evaded, Jeb shrugged and went on with speech about immigration. Had he pinned Trump to the floor verbally it would have been a viral moment because, of course, Trump does not apologize. Ever.
Trump: “We’re the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough to allow” birthright citizenship.
Is Rand Paul still there? Scott Walker?
There's so much sweating going on in this debate I just got a residual from Broadcast News.
— Albert Brooks (@AlbertBrooks) September 17, 2015
Christie goes on the offensive against Trump and Fiorina trumpeting their careers, saying the “55-year-old construction worker in the audience doesn’t care about your careers, he cares about his career.”
Just as Fiorina is carving out a spot as the one person on the stage successfully calling out Trump, Christie pulls off the night’s Really Big Moment pegging both Trump and Fiorina as 1 Percenters.
Christie: (for an unemployed construction worker) they could care less about your careers. You’re both successful people — Congratulations!…Stop this childish back and forth between the two of you. Wild applause.
Tonight’s moderator Jake Tapper doing deft job tonight, simultaneously pitting the personalities against each other while working his way through the “issues” list. CNN should get points for posting the question at bottom of screen so, when candidates blather off course you have a way to remember what the heck the question was in the first place.
Debate fatigue setting in
CNN put the candidates much closer together than Fox News did — make of that what you will — so how about a picture-in-picture showing what the candidates are doing during the commercial breaks? C’mon, please!
Fiorina returns the favor as Clinton posts her debate-nuking tweet, with comment to Hillary: Flying is an activity not an accomplishment.
Hugh Hewitt invokes his radio show every time he asks a question.
The Donald’s “They’re Right” face is priceless.
Dr. Carson, no one leaves Trump hangin’ on a high five. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
We’re past the two-hour mark. And where has the Donald gone? Haven’t heard from him in awhile.
Trump and Jeb tussle.
Trump: Your brother and your brothers administration gave us Barack Obama.
Bush: There’s one thing about my brother, he kept us safe….You remember the rubble?
Trump: I don’t know you feel safe right now — Idon’t feel so safe.
No surprise that CNN moderator Tapper would bring up the question of legalized pot. How many “documentaries” has the cable news network done on the subject in the past year?
Jeb Bush just said he smoked pot four decades ago adding, of saying it in front of 25 million viewers, ” I’m sure my mom’s not happy I just did.” Crowd chuckled.
Christie invokes the “gateway drug” argument, to tepid applause. Rand Paul counters that he’s OK with pot as medicine.
Christie invokes the “gateway drug” argument, to tepid applause. Rand Paul counters that he’s OK with pot as medicine for seizures.
“My husband I buried a child to drug addiction,” Fiorina said, jumping in on the pot legalization debate. You could have heard a pin drop. “We need to tell young people the truth: drug addiction is an epidemic,” she added, to applause. They’ll be talking about that on the morning infotainment programs.
Dana Bash asks the biggest non-question of the evening, asking Donald Trump to respond to Christie proposing that (rich) “people like you” should no longer get social security.
Trump: I’d be willing to check it off, and say i would not get social security.
As we close in on the Oscaresque three-hour mark, we’re reminded that the first GOP debate on Fox News clocked in at less than 2:10.
With an extra hour, don’t put your money on this super-sized debate besting FNC’s 24 million.
Trump burned by Carson’s rebuttal on vaccinations and autism: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.”
“Why doesn’t this country focus on cures rather than treatment?”
Don’t think Huckabee will be getting that coveted endorsement from Big Pharma.
Tapper promises just three more questions — and a nation rejoices. “Two of them lighthearted,” he says, “the other one more serious.”
Oh no he didn’t!
Tapper accidentally calls Rubio “Sen. Cruz.” Rubio replies, “I know we all look alike.”
“What would your Secret Service code name be?”
Tapper’s here all week, ladies and germs.
Trump and Jeb Bush win the competition to come up with best Secret Service code name for themselves.
“Eveready. It’s very high energy, Donald!” said Bush of his pick for his name. Trump laughs. They high five each other.
Look for that photo to go viral.
“Humble,” Trump picks for himself which gets a big laugh.
After a rare regular-guys-being-authentic moment, candidates are making closing remarks that, as usual, suck all the air out of the room. Now it’s back to politics as usual.
Rea-gan! Rea-gan! Rea-gan!
How many of these folks remember that he was a six0time SAG president.
Tapper wraps it up with a plug for CNN’s Democratic debate. The camera — natch — follows Trump working the room, and then CNN cuts to Chris Cuomo interviewing Guess Who. And Trump scolds the network for letting the thing go three hours when he thought it would be only two.
And after three hours, that’s a wrap for us. Tune in next time.