The Fourth Republican Debate

The Fourth Republican Debate

Ethan Li

It’s complicated.

This pretty much sums up the fourth Republican debate. There were no clear winners, and even the consistently-brazen Trump was relatively subdued.

Perhaps the drop in drama accounted for the drop in viewership. Only 13.5 million viewers tuned into the debate last Tuesday, whereas the first Republican debate, held in August, drew nearly double the audience.

“Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” –Marco Rubio

The young junior senator from Florida gave the most memorable line of the night. Rubio drew applause from the audience for his well delivered catchphrase. He demonstrated his appeal to the working class, the ones who carried lunchboxes to work rather than briefcases.

However, big news agencies quickly attacked the accuracy of his statement.

CNN and the Washington Post pointed out that, in actuality, philosophy majors make considerably more than welders. Accuracy aside, Rubio still proved he knew how to rouse a crowd.

“We cannot do it if we are going to compete with the rest of the world.” –Donald Trump

“It” as in raising minimum wage. Trump remained firm in his stance to keep the current bottom line at a measly $7.25 per hour.

And Ben Carson agreed with him.

That makes the two front-runners both against raising the minimum wage. It is shocking that the two candidates seen as a breath of political fresh air do so little to effect change for the people.

“For the 11 million people, c’mon folks. We all know you can’t pick [illegal immigrants] up and ship them across the border.” –John Kasich

John Kasich drew applause for his attack on Trump’s illegal immigration plan. He derided it, claiming it was “not an adult argument.” Trump deflected, commenting condescendingly that he did not have to hear from Kasich. Classy.

Jeb Bush also decried Trump’s immigration plan, declaring it “not possible.” Bush then continued to attack Trump: on foreign policy, Bush likened Trump’s mentality to that of a “board game.”

Trump, naturally provocative, also clashed with Carly Fiorina, asking why she kept “interrupting everybody.” His comment was met with loud boos from the audience.

Point, Fiorina. Fiorina herself had her strongest showing whilst discussing foreign policy:

“We should not speak to people from a position of weakness.” –Carly Fiorina

Fiorina explained why, for a period of time, she would not meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin. However, for the most part her performance held nothing outstanding.

“There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible. And not a one of them is as good.” –Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz remained consistent in his proposals. His lines were skillfully delivered and met with loud applause. His plan to reform America’s tax system included abolishing the IRS and returning to the gold standard.

It is absolutely ridiculous. And leading economists agree.

Analysts from the Tax Foundation and the Washington Post calculated that Cruz’s plan would deal a huge blow to the federal budget. Cruz’s plan would cost the government over 750 billion dollars in just the first ten years.

Interestingly, Rand Paul agreed with Cruz’s bold tax plan. He did not, however, agree with Marco Rubio’s stance on military spending:

“Can you be a conservative and be liberal on military spending?” –Rand Paul

Challenging Rubio’s identity as a conservative was a clever move. In this manner, Paul sought to separate himself as the “only fiscal conservative on the stage.” Did it work? Unfortunately for Paul, that is debatable.

If nothing else, the fourth Republican Debate served to further define each candidates’ position. Trump, Cruz, and Rubio had the stronger showings based on poll results (appearing first, third, and fourth respectively). But all three made numerous mistakes.

Carson’s performance on Tuesday was almost intentionally forgettable. In light of the recent media scrutiny, this seemed to work in his favor. Fiorina hit hard on business topics, but did not gain traction with viewers after the debate. Bush pressed Trump on immigration, but failed to appeal to the conservative crowd.

Paul and Kasich were small presences on a big stage. It is no surprise that of the eight candidates they are tied for last in the polls.