Tag Archives: GOP debates

Gov. Kasich bombs again

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 28:  Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Today is the first full session of the RNC after the start was delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The man who has emerged as my favorite Republican presidential candidate continues to struggle.

He cannot get traction among a GOP primary electorate that favors bloody, red meat over cool collegiality.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich reportedly was the biggest loser at the fourth Republican debate, according to Politico. This hurts my heart. Honestly, it does.

Kasich is the one Republican candidate who can stake a unique claim to fame among the current crop of GOP candidates. He is the only one of the bunch who has demonstrated an ability to work with Democrats to craft a policy that is good for the nation.

When did he do that? He did when he chaired the U.S. House Budget Committee in the late 1990s and worked hand in hand with House Speaker Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton to balance the federal budget.

Gingrich, of course, is a fellow Republican. Clinton was that dreaded Democrat in the White House. Kasich showed an ability to hammer together a budget that met everyone’s expectations by providing a balance that eventually worked its way into a substantial surplus by the time President Clinton left office in January 2001.

That doesn’t sell, though, in today’s political climate. GOP primary voters aren’t interested in working with the other side. They have been infiltrated by the TEA Party faction, the folks who think government is evil and who see any effort to use government as a tool to push policy forward as an ideological capitulation.

Kasich won’t buy into the Donald Trump notion of deporting every one of the 11 million illegal immigrants. That, too, has produced scorn among the right wing of his party.

Good grief! The man knows how government works. He has executive experience now as well, running a state government in a large and diverse state such as Ohio.

Is it too late for my favorite Republican to catch fire? Technically, probably not. However, the pundits are saying that the game might be up for the likes of Kasich and other so-called “establishment Republicans” seeking to make a dent in the armor that’s protecting the outsiders — Trump and Ben Carson, to be specific.

Trump keeps pounding on that insane idea of rounding up every illegal immigrant and sending them back to their home countries. How he intends to do that, well … that’s to be determined later — if ever!

And Carson? Someone will have to explain to me how his training as a brain surgeon has prepared him in any way for the complexities of becoming head of state and government of the world’s most powerful nation.

For that matter, Trump’s career as a real estate mogul and reality TV star leaves him equally unprepared.

Meanwhile, candidates like Kasich — with actual government experience — continue to languish, flail and flounder.

Oh … my.


RNC fights back: severs tie with NBC

horse race

Can it possibly true that the Republican National Committee doesn’t like its party’s presidential candidates to answer tough questions?

Someone, tell me that’s not possible.

The RNC has lashed out at CNBC and its parent network, NBC, by severing its relationship with the media outlet because of the nature of the questions asked by CNBC moderators this week at the GOP debate in Boulder, Colo.

This means NBC won’t take part in future Republican debates.

The questions weren’t “fair,” according to RNC chairman Reince Preibus. They were of the “gotcha” variety, he said.

I happen to agree with the view that the CNBC moderators did a poor job during the debate. My issue with them was that the debate became a madhouse during its two-hour duration. Candidates were interrupting each other; they were interrupting the moderators; the moderators were interrupting the candidates. Then came the attacks from the candidates against the mainstream media and CNBC.

One of the candidates, Ted Cruz of Texas, then said he thinks Republican debates need to be moderated by pundits who are friendly to the GOP. Donald Trump said more or less the same thing.

Look, the issue shouldn’t be the toughness of the questioning. What on Earth do any of these folks believe will await them if any of them gets elected president next year? Are they — and their political party apparatus — really fearful of tough questions that seek to determine the candidates’ ability to think on their feet and deal with unexpected occurrences?

I cannot believe what’s happening here. The Republican National Committee needs to get a grip on what it is demanding of the media that cover its candidates’ quest to assume the most powerful office on the planet.


Top 10 GOP debate didn’t settle a thing

Well, so much for great expectations from the first set of Republican presidential joint appearances.

We had the two sets of “debates.” The first one provided a major — and frankly, pleasant — surprise. It turned out to be Carly Fiorina’s strong showing. I believe she might find herself in the top tier of candidates at the next set of joint appearances.

As for the main event, the one involving the Top 10 candidates (according to the polls), no one seemed to rise out of the rabble.

It was disappointing to me.

I wanted to watch the debate with a open mind. Readers of this blog know my bias tilts away from the Republican side of the aisle.

But, hey, we’re going to elect a new president in November 2016. It’s time to keep my eyes wide open.

The top dog in this GOP field happens to be someone who’s never held elective office. Donald Trump didn’t show me a single thing tonight that justifies how he has managed to become the top Republican candidate for president of the United States.

The rest of ’em? They all sounded just as I thought they would. They all seem to think the United States is going straight to hell. They blame the current president and, of course, are lumping the Democratic Party frontrunner with him.

My hope now is that Carly Fiorina — on what I perceive as her strong showing at the earlier debate — will be heard along with the GOP first team.

Networks create GOP debate monster

Barack Obama is touring East Africa at the moment, seeking to build some common ground and alliances in the war against terrorism.

Meanwhile, back home, the thundering herd of Republicans are trying to outshout each other while seeking one of 10 spot on a debate stage in Cleveland, Ohio.

The president calls the GOP’s “ad hominem attacks” on U.S. foreign policy “ridiculous” and “sad.”


I believe, Mr. President, what we’re seeing here is the result of a Fox- and CNN-inspired creation: The candidates are trying to one-up each other, seeking to boost their poll numbers among GOP primary voters so they can be seen and heard among the “top tier” candidates participating in the first two Republican primary debates.

Mike Huckabee said the president’s deal that seeks an end to Iran’s nuclear program will walk “Israelis to the oven,” an obvious reference to the Holocaust. Do you think the former Arkansas governor is trying to make some noise here, trying to become eligible to take part in the Fox-sponsored debate that will take place in a few days?

All the GOP contenders, of course, are trying to derail the current frontrunner — Donald Trump — who’s said so many outrageous things in so many equally outrageous contexts.

Fox said the top 10 candidates’ poll numbers will determine who stands on the debate stage. CNN, which hosts the second debate, is following more or less than same script.

The networks are going to determine who gets heard on national TV.

To get there, the networks are laying the groundwork for candidates to make outrageous statements designed to boost poll ratings, appealing to “the base” of their party.

The GOP campaign has devolved into name-calling, again in the interest of boosting poll numbers.

Oh, my. It’s just the beginning.


Fox, CNN get it right on debate format

The Republican Party’s presidential field figures to be a thundering herd by the time summer rolls around.

Accordingly, two cable news networks have decided on a format that is going to exclude some of this potentially huge field.

Good for them. The networks, that is.


Fox News Channel is going to play host to the first GOP primary debate on Aug. 6 in Cleveland. Its plan is to limit the participants to the top 10 candidates, based on their standing in the polls at that time. There well might be at least double that number of candidates seeking the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Fox says the candidates must be declared. Many observers are noting that the criteria are going to keep several high-powered candidates off the debate stage.

CNN is going to play host for the second debate, on Sept. 16, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Its format is a bit more convoluted. CNN is planning a two-tiered event: The top candidates will share one stage; the also-rans will share another one.

I prefer the Fox approach, to be honest.

There is no possible way that having 20 — or maybe more — candidates on the same stage is going to do a bit of good for the voters who might be undecided on who would get their vote in a Republican primary. Fox has taken a simpler approach to determining which candidates should participate in the first of what looks like a long series of joint appearances.

My only hope for the debate formats as the series unfolds is that the networks somehow restrict audience cheering. The 2012 GOP debates were annoying in the extreme as the candidates paraded onto debate stages, waving to their cheering fans in the crowd. It was weird and in my view detracted from the importance of the event, which was to ask these candidates for their views on critical issues of the day.

But for starters, I’m glad to know Fox and CNN are going to cull the herd of hopefuls from a debate stage with limited space.

GOP plans fewer debates in 2016

Even though I generally like to see candidates for high office mix it up in public, I have to applaud the Republican National Committee’s decision to scale back the number of debates its presidential candidates will wage in 2016.

It’s down to just nine of them, about half the number of debates that took place prior to the 2012 GOP convention.

The 2012 GOP primary campaign was an exercise in ridiculousness as the field kept showing up weekly prior to elections in states. The field was winnowed down as candidates dropped out from the previous primary voting.


Even stranger was the stagecraft associated with many of these joint appearances. The candidates would stride onto the stage to applause from the audience, and to shrieks and shouts from their particular fans in the crowd.

They’d wave and point to people they recognize — which always is an odd sort of gesture that politicians do to “connect” with voters.

The GOP is expecting a large field of candidates. RealClearPolitics indicates as many as two dozen Republicans currently are considering a run for the White House. Holy cow! What if all of them declare their candidacies?

The field will narrow quickly, although I’m quite certain it’s going to be a stronger field of contenders than the gaggle of goofballs that ran for the presidency in 2012. Yes, there were serious candidates among the field, but Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann? C’mon.

I’m happy to see the RNC coming to its senses on the number of debates. Now it has to figure out how to lend seriousness and decorum to each of them.

Let’s start by eliminating the show-biz entrance.

RNC marginalizes itself with boycott vote

The Republican National Committee has just voted to marginalize its standing with the broad swath of Americans who will have a say in electing the next president of the United States.

The RNC voted to exclude CNN and NBC News from any 2016 presidential primary debates.


I’m a bit unsure as to how that will work. I suppose if either CNN and NBC proposes to host a debate, none of the candidates will show up. Perhaps the RNC will set up a debate and invite the other networks — CBS, ABC and Fox — to take part.

Whatever the case, the RNC has failed to grasp the difference between news and entertainment.

At issue are a couple of proposed projects involving Hillary Rodham Clinton, a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2016. CNN is planning to air a film on the former first lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state; NBC is hoping to produce a four-part miniseries on HRC. The GOP says the networks are trying to influence voters by portraying Clinton allegedly in a positive light.

Well, no one knows yet how the networks are going to portray her. Nor has anyone grasped publicly the difference — in NBC’s case — the difference between the news operation and the network’s entertainment division. NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd has tried to explain that the entertainment is independent from news and neither has any say in what the other does.

That doesn’t matter, according to the RNC. I suppose the GOP would be just fine with all of this if the networks were planning to broadcast hatchet jobs on Hillary. A “fair and balanced” portrayal of a major American public figure, though, isn’t good enough.