Saturday, August 8, 2015

Quotes from the Republican Debate in Cleveland

On Thursday, August 6th, ten Republican presidential candidates gathered at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio for a high-profile debate. Three Fox News contributors -- Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier -- moderated the debate, offering the candidates questions about electability, the economy, and social issues. Time posted a transcript of the debate online, from which I've plucked a few noteworthy quotes.

First, when Megyn Kelly confronted Donald Trump about his misogynist comments, Trump shrugged off her criticism as "political correctness". Trump's inability to distinguish "political correctness" from basic respect for women is troubling. If his recent comments about Kelly are any indication, Trump learned nothing from the debate.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, one of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter. However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like "fat pigs", "dogs", "slobs", and "disgusting animals". Your Twitter account--

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

KELLY: No, it wasn't. Your Twitter account--

TRUMP: Thank you.

KELLY: Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?

TRUMP: I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either. This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody. And frankly, what I say, and oftentimes it’s fun, it’s kidding. We have a good time. What I say is what I say. And honestly Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be, based on the way you have treated me. But I wouldn’t do that.
Predictably, some candidates used the debate as an opportunity to condemn Planned Parenthood and oppose abortion. Megyn Kelly asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker if his extreme opposition to abortion, even in cases when abortion could save a woman's life, meant that he was out of step with most voters. Walker used the opportunity to slam Planned Parenthood, calling Hillary Clinton "radical" for not opposing Planned Parenthood.
KELLY: Governor Walker, you’ve consistently said that you want to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. You recently signed an abortion law in Wisconsin that does have an exception for the mother’s life, but you’re on the record as having objected to it. Would you really let a mother die rather than have an abortion, and with 83 percent of the American public in favor of a life exception, are you too out of the mainstream on this issue to win the general election?

WALKER: Well, I’m pro-life, I’ve always been pro-life, and I’ve got a position that I think is consistent with many Americans out there in that in that I believe that that is an unborn child that’s in need of protection out there, and I’ve said many a time that that unborn child can be protected, and there are many other alternatives that can also protect the life of that mother. That’s been consistently proven.

Unlike Hillary Clinton, who has a radical position in terms of support for Planned Parenthood, I defunded Planned Parenthood more than four years ago, long before any of these videos came out. I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was his usual right-wing self. Mike Wallace asked Huckabee how he would woo enough independent and Democratic voters to win the 2016 election, given how many voters disagree with his right-wing stance on social issues.
WALLACE: Governor Huckabee, like Governor Walker, you have staked out strong positions on social issues. You favor a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage. You favor a constitutional amendment banning abortions, except for the life of the mother. Millions of people in this country agree with you, but according to the polls, and again this an electability question, according to the polls, more people don’t, so how do you persuade enough Independents and Democrats to get elected in 2016?

HUCKABEE: Chris, I disagree with the idea that the real issue is a constitutional amendment. That’s a long and difficult process. I’ve actually taken the position that’s bolder than that. A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer. I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception.

The reason we know that it is is because of the DNA schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on. And, this notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.

It’s time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they’re parts to a Buick.
I found Huckabee's argument puzzling. The Fifth Amendment protects due process and prevents citizens from being compelled to testify against themselves in criminal cases, while the Fourteen Amendment prevents states from encroaching on the rights of citizens. What does either amendment have to do with abortion?

On a bright note, Ohio Governor John Kasich told Megyn Kelly that he would cherish a gay loved one and that he accepts the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage. According to the Columbus Dispatch, Kasich endorsed "traditional marriage" during a recent appearance on Face the Nation, but accepted the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage as "the law of the land" and urged political leaders to address more pressing issues.
KELLY: The subject of gay marriage and religious liberty. Governor Kasich, if you had a son or daughter who was gay or lesbian, how would you explain to them your opposition to same-sex marriage?

KASICH: Well, look, I’m an old-fashioned person here, and I happen to believe in traditional marriage. But I’ve also said the court has ruled —

KELLY: How would you — how would you explain it to a child?

KASICH: Wait, Megyn, the court has ruled, and I said we’ll accept it. And guess what, I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay. Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.
To my disappointment, the media has devoted more attention to Trump's buffoonery than Kasich's comparatively mature responses. For example, Kasich also offered refreshingly sane commentary on Medicaid expansion. He stressed the importance of providing drug rehabilitation and mental health services to the public instead of warehousing people with addictions or mental health problems in prisons.
KASICH: First of all, Megyn, you should know that President Reagan expanded Medicaid three or four times. Secondly, I had an opportunity to bring resources back to Ohio to do what? To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons. It costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison. I’d rather get them their medication so they could lead a decent life.

Secondly, we are rehabbing the drug-addicted. Eighty percent of the people in our prisons have addictions or problems. We now treat them in the prisons, release them in the community and the recidivism rate is 10 percent and everybody across this country knows that the tsunami of drugs is — is threatening their very families. So we’re treating them and getting them on their feet. And, finally, the working poor, instead of them having come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they’re sicker and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people could get on their feet.
Kasich's sanity notwithstanding, the Cleveland debate offered voters little new information about the top Republican candidates. Sadly, the debate reminded viewers that most G.O.P. candidates have failed to move beyond the sexism, homophobia, and contempt for reproductive rights that characterize too many Republicans. If the G.O.P. candidates refuse to evolve, their chances of winning the 2016 presidential election are slim.

To read additional commentary, visit the following links.

PBS: Fact checking the GOP candidates’ statements in debate

The Atlantic: Who Won the Republican Presidential Debate?

Vice: Five Moments that Explain Last Night's Republican Debate


  1. And Donald Trump is the frontrunner. How is any of this possible?

    1. Agi Tater -- Trump appeals to the most brutish and crude impulses in many Republican voters. I'm stunned that he made it this far in the race, since he has nothing of substance to offer.


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