What to Expect at the First GOP Debate
As the number of candidates for the GOP is shockingly 17 individuals, all who believe they have what it takes to become the next president, it is no surprise that for the first primary debate, Fox News had to break it down to a manageable and realistic number. The way this network did this was through a poll. While polls are of course not completely accurate of what voters will actually do on an election day, they are good to use as a compass to see what voters are caring about, and who has their attention at that moment. The first primary debate is super important in an election cycle, as it brings for the first time all the candidates in the room, and allows voters to see how they match up against each other. Furthermore, Fox News is the GOP powerhouse when it comes to news. The channel is watched by millions of Republicans around the country, so if the candidates are looking for a breakthrough moment, this is there time to shine. So, with this context, what can we expect at this first GOP debate?
First, let’s look at the candidates, listed by order they placed in the poll
- Donald Trump
- Governor Jeb Bush
- Governor Scott Walker
- Governor Mike Huckabee
- Ben Carson
- Senator Ted Cruz
- Senator Marco Rubio
- Senator Rand Paul
- Governor Chris Christie
- Governor John Kasich
Secondly, let’s look at each candidates current and past occupation, and what to expect from tomorrow nights debate.
Donald Trump, who many people think is a joke but is number one in the polls for a reason, has had no political experience. While you would expect many voters to see this as a disadvantage, the marketing genius has twisted this to his own favor, showing that as he is not a big cat Washington politician, he has not accountability to anyone else but members of the party. Trump also points out that because he is already a billionaire, he cannot be corrupted by money and power. Many voters believe that this is exactly what goes on in Washington, so they will not care about Trump’s entrance into the political field. Because Trump has nothing to be accountable to in his past, he will be able to fire away one liners about how America is on the wrong path and the country is crumbling around us, and then he will be able to give more one liners about how he is the one to fix it. Trump may not say anything of substance, but he will most likely be covered and quoted the most.
Governor Jeb Bush is the candidate everyone wishes ran for president 15 years ago. Bush has always been popularly known as the smarter brother (think W movie), and as a politician who would make a great president. Unfortunately, because his brother was literally just president, this puts Bush is a very tough position. It also puts voters in a very tough decision. While he may seem like the obvious candidate and one of the only ones who has an actual chance beating Hillary Clinton, voters do not want to break out their Clinton vs Bush tee shirts from 1992, and they do not want two political dynasties going at each other again. While Bush has an impressive resume as Governor of Florida, many far right conservatives think that he is too moderate (take his view on Common Core), and do not like his immigration policies (he doesn’t want to build a Great Wall of America, or some other extreme plan), so he will have a hard time in the primary although a much easier time in the general election if he got through. Unfortunately, the primary is the hardest part for the Republican candidate, because the party is so split. Fox News appeals to the far right, so Bush is going to really have to keep to his own principles tomorrow night while also appealing to this more extreme voter base.
Governor Scott Walker is most likely not even nervous for tomorrow nights debate. As a avid pro life believer, a bully to unions, and a serious tax cutter, Walker has everything under his belt and past actions to prove his word to really let himself shine for the Fox News channel. This governor went into a blue state and despite all odds, implemented every Republican economic policy he could, and the best part for him is that it worked. Walker will hold his own, but he is going to have to really push a bigger personality when there is another job creator in the room who wants to scream the loudest (obviously Trump).
Governor Mike Huckabee will be debating at his old job. Yes, in case you all forgot, Huckabee really made a name for himself by working for Fox News. For this reason, we can expect Huckabee to literally slip back into his old mindset and give his viewers a show while presenting political information. Really, he is the best equipped for this type of debate as he used to do it for his career.
Ben Carson, like Trump, has had no political experience, but instead has a huge evangelical following. He has not been covered too much by the media, and many people you may ask about the race will have zero clue who he is. His far right voter base will, however, which is why he got this far in the first place. Carson has the least expectations, so therefore has the most potential to surprise everyone.
Senator Ted Cruz must be literally hitting the wall every time he hears Donald Trumps name. Cruz, who used to be Fox News’ favorite and got a lot of attention from the same tactics Trump uses, has been slowly and continuously outdone by Trump. The base that may have loved Senator Ted Cruz are slowly changing ships, so we can expect tonight Cruz will say close to the same things as Donald Trump. What would be best is to see them go head to head against each other.
Senator Marco Rubio really lost his stride after he decided to tackle immigration reform, and after the far right cried foul because of the amnesty it eventually provided. A big factor in this lack of praise for Rubio’s reform was from the very channel that is holding the first debate tomorrow. Rubio, however, has as strong foreign policy background, and is known for being good on camera in order to work a crowd. He will most likely use his foreign policy experience in the Senate to his advantage, and highlight the Iran Deal and Cuba negotiations as examples of America losing its edge. There is no doubt immigration will be brought up, so Rubio is going to have to strategically show that he lost his moderate views and no longer believes in the bill he took so long to form.
Senator Rand Paul has seemed to have a love hate relationship with the media, as he is not afraid to step on their toes if it comes to something he believes in. Paul has a really strong campaign, where he has already tackled how he will limit the federal governments power, and a tax plan that people can actually understand and could work. Paul kind of flip flops on foreign policy, and differs from his Republican colleagues that he is not a total hawk when it comes to other countries. While his proposal for reasons he should be elected are extremely strong, it is hard for Paul to be heard from all the other loud candidates. Tonight will be a chance for him to give a better package of what he will bring, and to show his experience and dedication compared to other candidates.
Governor Chris Christie met his Waterloo after the Bridgegate scandal. If you recall, this Governor was just coming off of a landslide election, and many thought he would be a shoe in for the upcoming presidential election. He was elected in a blue state, and also has a track record of examples where he cut taxes and created jobs. Bridgegate, however, put a sour taste in most peoples mouths, and really knocked him off his high horse. People remembered that they actually did not like him for the qualities that some thought would make him a good president. Nevertheless, there are still some strong Christie fans, even from a more conservative polling base. For this reason, Christie has squeezed onto the debate tomorrow night, and his big personality will be one of the only ones who can take on the other big cats. Debates are Christie’s time to shine, and we will see if he uses this to his advantage tomorrow.
Governor John Kasich is a candidate who is talked about by people who really know and understand politics. He has a strong background, a dedication to politics, and a level head. Unfortunately, this is why he is not talked about by the general voting population. There is no flare to this governor, and therefore many people unfortunately forget his name. Kasich will have the chance tomorrow to make himself more talked about, and prove that those really smart political commentators and analysts deserve their jobs.
Despite what happens tomorrow, we enter one of the most exciting times of the American year, and that is election season. While candidates have been building their donor base and political platform, the first debate really sets the tone for the rest of the primary election, and gives a reference point from every candidate (including Democrats) to really start going at each other’s throats. Make sure you tune into Fox News tomorrow night, and let the games begin!