The country’s most popular new reality TV series, The GOP Debates, is back tonight for Episode 3. The hit series premiered with a whopping 24 million viewers in August on Fox News Channel. Episode 2, on CNN in September, clocked 23M. Tonight’s episode, imaginatively titled “The Republican Presidential Debate: Your Money, Your Vote” by CNBC, airs at 8 PM ET on the cable net.
Since the last episode, Donald Trump has lost his lead in Iowa, and one national poll, to retired neurosurgeon Sleepy, aka Ben Carson. Trump comes to tonight’s debate after spending Tuesday in Iowa trying to win the hearts and minds of more locals with such lines as “What the hell are you people doing to me?” and joking (we think), “If I lose Iowa, I will never speak to you people again.”
The stakes tonight could not be higher for the former Celebrity Apprentice star but also for some of the career politicians clumped at the bottom of polling. Newly made-over for this debate, in hope of having a breakout moment, are Ohio Gov. John “Sick and Tired of This Nonsense” Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb “Grumpy as Heck” Bush. Joining them onstage at the University of Colorado in Boulder are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Tonight’s episode will be moderated by CNBC anchors Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick and chief Washington correspondent John Harwood. The business network insists tonight’s debate will be laser-focused on economics and money matters. Yes, that will make it more challenging for Trump to work into the conversation that Carson is a Seventh-day Adventist, as Trump has taken to doing by way of suggesting the new front-runner’s religious affiliation is too extreme for the White House.
Welcome to Round 3 of the ongoing title fight known as the Republican Debates. You know the combatants, so let’s have at it.
CNBC is taking its time getting this thing going, but it appears to be time.
Here are the rules: Candidates get 30 seconds to answer the first question, 60 seconds for a formal question and 30 seconds for a follow-up or rebuttal. Per the moderators, of course.
First question, candidates are asked “What’s your biggest weakness?” Kasich tries to have that Big Moment right off bat:
“We are on the verge of picking someone who cannot do this job!”
So a socialist, an isolationist and a pessimist walk into a bar — would Chris Christie buy a round for them?
First question goes to Mr. Trump. We’re shocked — shocked!
The Non Answering of question as to what is their greatest weakness (did CNBC anchor really expect anyone to answer that one?:
Huckabee: “Washington does not play by same rules America has to play by.
Jeb Bush: It troubles me some candidates are tearing down America.
Rubio: I do believe I share sense of optimism.
Trump: I trust people too much. If they let me down I never forgive.
Carson: Not really seeing myself in that position until hundreds of thousand of people tell me I have to do it.
Fiorina; After the last debate I was told I did not smile enough. (“Fixed it!” Trump shouted)
Cruz: If you want someone to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy. But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get that done.
Cristie attacks the Dem candidates.
Trump is offended by John Harwood saying that some are referring to his run as “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Why? What is hotter in the zeitgeist than comic books?
Kasich on the attack, zings Carson: “This stuff is fantasy! Come on, you don’t scare senior citizens with this. It’s irresponsible! We cannot elect somebody who does not know how to do the job!”
Already more action than the Dem debate two weeks ago.
Carly Fiorina wants a three-page Tax Code? You could file an EZ form via Twitter!
Crawl at bottom of screen is constant distraction from conservatives.
Marco Rubio gets the biggest cheer of the night with a line about the Mainstream Media.
More shouting over and down than a Very Special Episode of “Hardball.”
Jeb Bush having his Moment, endorses Sun Sentinel’s op-ed today telling Marco Rubio to resign his seat or get back to Washington and to work. “Marco, when you signed up for this, this was a six-year term. What is this, like a French work week? Just resign and let someone else take the job.”
Plug those websites, folks!
First Shakespearean Father/Son tragedy Moment: Jeb Bush takes off after his son figure, but poor Bush can’t play out the scene, and gets upstaged by the youngster.
Should politicians be held criminally liable for their actions? Anyone? Bueller?
Ted Cruz turns the tables on the moderators seeking substantive questions — while dodging the question.
Cruz attacks the CNBC questioners: This is not a cage match! Donald Trump are you a comic book villain? Marco Rubio why don’t you resign? How about talking about the substantive issues? CNBC just got bitch-slapped.
Who is doing all the coughing? Get that guy a glass of water.
Oooh, sorry, Sen. Rubio.
Cruz’s Insurrection also included a description of the Demo debate on CNN: “Every fawning question from the media, ‘Which of you is more handsome and why?’ That reflected a debate between the Bolscheviks and the Mensheviks. “
oh my god did i just hear Ted Cruz say something awesome that i agree with? Yes. The media is even stupider than the pols. Who's on first?
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 29, 2015
“Famous Colorado brownies.” Well played, Sen. Cruz.
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the role of Donald Trump will be played by … nobody.
The first commercial is CNBC plugging its series The Profit. Anyone care to guess why “Bittersweet Symphony” was playing in the background?
At the first commercial break, Ted Cruz seems to have the hot hand. Alternately kickin’ media butt and offering to get them stones on Mile High brownies. Based on his exchange with Rubio, Jeb Bush seemed pretty screwed: brought a swizzle stick to a knife fight
The first two movie ads are for Brooklyn and Secret in Their Eyes. Couple of four-quadrant films if ever there was one.
Jim Cramer? Thank you, caller.
Jim Cramer let in to play, and lobs first total softball question of the night, served up to Chris Christie: Would you prosecute the people at GM who were responsible for the death of 124 people with a switch they knew was defective? You betcha, says Christie.
Jeb Bush: “You find a Democrat who’s willing to cut $10? I’ll give him a warm kiss.” (ick!) Meanwhile Ted Cruz wants to hand out pot brownies. Sounds like a CU frat party.
Becky Quick seems most offended Rubio cashed out his retirement fund. That’s a sin on CNBC, where mutual fund companies pay the bills?
Carl Quintanilla has the honor of first boo from the crowd.
Forgive me for flipping to the ballgame during the commercial break. Royals have two on, two out and trail 1-0 in the fourth.
Trump has a problem with “these nasty and ridiculous questions.” Will the viewers?
Mention of the Mainstream Media gets another whoop from the crowd. And Rush Limbaugh lights a victory cigar.
Super PAC smackdown:
Trump once again boasts he’s “self-funding.” “Super PACS are a disaster. They’re scams and you better get rid of them. They’re causing bad decisions to be made by some very good people right now.”
Rubio tops that: “The Dems have ultimate super PAC. It’s called the mainstream media. The week of the Benghazi hearings, week she got exposed as a liar.”
Betsy Quick distinguishes herself as worst questioner at any debate to date. A simple denial from Trump scrambles her circuits, over whether Trump had dissed Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg over immigration issues. “Where did I read it?” Come on, Becky make a note of your sources.
Huckabee expected a big laugh with his runaway-blimp-as-goverment-made-bag-of-gas metaphor. Probably deserved more than it got, frankly.
Becky Quick could use a save from Jonathan Quick. Embarrassing.
Those of us who bet one of the candidates would reference today’s runaway blimp just got $5 richer…
Moderators as combatants = acquired taste.
Shout Out Your Tax Plan — new game show!
How did Kasich turn a question about legalizing grass into a rant about wages? Stony.
Sad irony of this debate for CNBC’s talking heads: They spend all day, every day, talking up capitalism and free markets, only to be seen tonight by what will be their biggest audience ever being lambasted by the GOP candidates for being part of the leftie lamestream media.
Trump sometimes packs heat? Yes, the terrorists have won.
Did Huckabee just endorse Trump?
Carl Quintanilla asked Huckabee if he thinks Donald Trump has the “moral authority” to unite the country. “Of the few questions I’ve got the last one I need is to five him more time,” Huckabee responds, in re Trump. He adds: “I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight. Get over that one.”
Trump jumped in: “Such a nasty question, but thank you governor.”
The love-fest continues. Huckabee: “Donald Trump would be a better president every day, and twice in Sunday than Hillary.”
Oh my god, it’s Jeb Bush. I’d forgotten about him….
Daily Fantasy Sports question goes to: Jeb Bush. This guy can’t get a break.
Kasich and all that gesturing! At least his leads the field in one category.
Fantasy sports gets its moment in the spotlight. But Jeb, fact-check: Tannehill completed an NFL record 25 passes in a row on Sunday, not 18 for 19. SHAMEFUL!
Jeb: “I’m 7 and 0 in my fantasy football league. I’m doing great. But we’re not gambling and it’s become. it’s day trading without any regulation at all. And when you have insider information, there has to be some regulation.”
Oops, Jeb just stepped into it and used the “R” word.
Christie jumps in to save him: “We have ISIS attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football?!?!”
CNBC talking heads are taking a beating tonight.
Agree with my colleague Lisa: This is by far the worst beating a moderator panel has taken this debate season. Ever?
Rand Paul’s position on what’s wrong with Social Security is that your grandparents had too many children. Logical conclusion: cull the baby boomer herd.
Have lost count now, but think the number of sequential CNBC moderators exceeds the number of GOP candidates on stage. Up next: Larry the intern from Columbia U…..
Most apropos commercial for the CNBC moderators just aired: Our Brand Is Crisis.
Trump is right, Bush is low energy. He always looks like the guy who's in the car reading while his wife is in a store shopping.
— Bill Maher (@billmaher) October 29, 2015
Didn’t Trump and Carson threaten to send in the Marines (or something) is this debate ran more than two hours? Five-minute warning.
Christie makes play for Baby Boomer vote, says it’s “blessing” they’re living longer, in marked contrast to Paul’s “cull the herd” line.
OK, 30 seconds apiece for closing arguments. Ha — stop it, yer killin’ me!
OK, the only thing some people will take from tonight’s debate is that cough Bush just endured during his closing statement.
What was that standing ovation for? The fact that this thing ended?
Paul: Liberty thrives when government is small.
Christie: Are you fed up with how Washington taxes you, wastes your money? You need to elect someone who is deadly serious about changing this culture.
Fiorina: You know in your heart you want to see a debate between me and Hillary Clinton.
Carson: I will never give away the principals and values for the sake of Political correctness.
Trump: CNBC sold ads in this debate for $250K. They wanted to make it three hours. In about 2 minutes I renegotiated it down to 2 hours, so we can get the hell out of here, and I will do it with the country.
Jeb: America is at a crossroads. I will change culture in Washington. We need unifier not a cynical Divider in Chief. I know we can do this because…zzzzzzz
Huckabee: Because of the media, this is just a game and we’re the players. I do not want to walk my grand kids through the charred remains of this country.
Kasich: If you save one life you’ve changed the world. We need to rebuild our families, know who our neighbors are. America is great from the bottom up. And God Bless America.
CNBC asks Trump how it all went: Hillary’s questions were a lot easier than the questions we were asked tonight. Maybe they negotiated a better deal. That was quite boring. This was more exciting.
Trump gripes about keeping the debate to two hours but is happy to do a 10-minute on-air interview afterward. Heh.
That’s a wrap for tonight. Tune in on November 10 for the next GOP debate and again on November 14 for the second Democratic faceoff.