Analysis: Presidential candidates face off in third GOP debate

For The News-Letter

The Republican Party hosted its third presidential debate on Wednesday, in which ten candidates who made the 2.5 percent cutoff in an average of national polls participated. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) and Carly Fiorina gave the most commendable performances.

CNBC, the debate host, marketed the debate with the slogan “Your Money Your Vote,” and the conversation focused on the state of the economy and the candidates’ potential policies. This debate seemed to break from previous debates because it was more heavily moderated by a team of commentators. The commentators were joined throughout separate segments of the debate by guest moderators.

When asked to clarify his statement about fellow candidates’ proposals that he originally said were “just crazy,” Kasich explained his economic background.

“Folks we have to wake up. We can’t just pick someone who doesn’t know how to do the job,” he said. “We have to pick someone with the experience, with the know how, with the discipline. And I spent my entire lifetime balancing federal budgets, growing jobs as we’ve seen in Ohio.”

Trump targeted Kasich with false information. Kasich was a Lehman Brothers managing director but did not serve on the Board or hold any higher level positions.

Trump’s performance seemed to reflect previous debates, as he continued with his combative attitude and lack of substantive answers to economic or fiscal reform. Junior Theodore Kupfer commented on Trump’s debate persona.

“Thus far his rise makes demographic sense but as he doubles down on irrationality — like by harping on manufacturing as if it was still 1950 — maybe voters will start to see through his thinning facade (and hair),” Kupfer wrote in an email to The News-Letter. “He’s probably hit his ceiling at 30% support, so we’ll see if the sect of middle Americans who have backed him thus far will be able to stomach an ‘establishment’ candidate… even though those candidates are generally quite conservative.”

Senior Harrison Finkelstein took a different approach to watching Trump’s performance, explaining that he understands Trump’s appeal in the eyes of the public but also believes his arguments are unsubstantial.

“Trump is a very strong and charismatic speaker, although his facts are questionable,” Finkelstein wrote in an email to The News-Letter.

The stand-out candidate of the night was Sen. Marco Rubio who came off as a strong, well-educated candidate with substantive and clear ideas on how he wants help the American economy. In response to his ideas on reforming and expanding the H1B visa program, Rubio also espoused his plans for training more Americans to do high-skilled jobs.

“We need to get back to training people in this country to do the jobs of the 21st century,” Rubio said. “Why did we stop doing Vocational training in America? People need to get trained to do this work while they’re still in high school so they can graduate and go to work.”

Even though Rubio has yet to become a front-runner in the polls, Kupfer predicts that Rubio’s ability to comport himself well and appear educated will lead to the GOP establishment consolidating around him.

“I think you’re going to see the establishment and big-money donors consolidate around him as Bush’s lack of charisma causes him to keep falling,” Kupfer wrote.

Carly Fiorina also handled herself well, bringing clear and simple ideas. Her central message in response to the question of economic and fiscal reform was simplicity. She proposed to cut the current 73,000 page tax code to just three.

Finkelstein expressed his opinion on the overall quality of the debate, reflecting on the more supportive nature between the candidates as the moderators asked more targeted questions.

“They seemed to be propping each other up as much as they were tearing each other down,” he wrote. “The moderators seemed particularly nasty in tone and direction of questions.”

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