September 16’s GOP Debate Recap


Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

Maya Gopalakrishnan, Contributing Writer


The GOP debate on Sept. 16 saw a significant shift in polls. The debate was hosted by CNN in the Reagan Library, and was one of the longest political debates in American history, lasting over three hours. While eleven candidates participated, most questions were directed toward the three front-runners of the race: Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Jeb Bush.

According to Fremd debate coach Martin Zacharia, the aim of each candidate is to successfully get their point across in the allotted time.

“The number one goal for a candidate in the debate is to be heard.” Zacharia said. “The less the candidate speaks, the less the voters are able to engage and really get to know them.”

For the upcoming election, the quality Republican voters are most looking for is the candidate’s ability to bring about change. The Republican Party’s desire for change in the government also led many candidates to portray themselves as  “political outsiders.” Along with Trump and Fiorina, Christy associated himself with the label, as he is a Republican in the widely Democratic state of New Jersey.

Fiorina claimed the reason for this sudden support of “political outsiders” was due to the voters’ belief in government corruption.

“If someone has been in the system their whole life,” Fiorina said, “they don’t know how broken the system is.”

Trump, Carson and Fiorina, are the only non-politicians in the running. Trump, a well-known business tycoon, Fiorina, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and Carson, a former neurosurgeon. The result was a back and forth battle of who had seen the most success in both the business and political worlds. When Fiorina pointed out Trump’s filing for bankruptcy in Atlantic City, Trump claimed everything he has ever done has been a success, including his time in Atlantic City. In response, Kasich and Christy criticized Trump and Fiorina for not focusing on the issues of the country.

Christy felt the American people were not concerned with Trump’s and Fiorina’s successes in the business world.

“The 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job, who can’t fund his children’s education,” Christy said. “They could care less about your careers. They care about theirs.”

The candidates differed greatly on foreign policy, specifically on President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. While Texas senator Ted Cruz suggested the U.S. walk away from the deal, Ohio governor John Kasich approached it diplomatically, suggesting that anyone willing to discard the deal is not fit to be president.

Rand Paul also made clear that he opposed the war in Iraq, an uncommon view in the Republican Party. Paul showed his support for less American involvement around the world, while other candidates starkly disagreed. Ben Carson’s views on terrorism were also not aligned with most of the party, as he favored intellectual approach, rather than defeating terrorists militarily.

On the homefront, immigration dominated the 2015 republican presidential debate. Trump defended his plan to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, as well as to build a wall between the U.S and Mexico. Many of the candidates refuted Trump’s plan, including governor Jeb Bush, who pointed out the enormous cost of building the wall, keeping it secure, and deporting so many people.

Sophomore Kaveen Desai thinks that Christie and Fiorina took a more moderate stance in dealing with immigration.

“They focused more on who around the world we could bring in,” Desai said. “Rather than who we could kick out.”

However, certain candidates were in full support of the idea, such as Ted Cruz, who said he was grateful to Donald Trump for bringing up the immigration policy issue.

Trump also criticized candidates, such as Jeb Bush, for speaking Spanish along the campaign trail.

“To have a country, we have to have assimilation,” Trump said. “This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.”

By the conclusion of the debate, over a third of Republican voters said Carly Fiorina gave the best performance, propelling her to third place in the polls with 11% of the vote. Rand Paul’s performance was sub-par, with only 3%. Although Trump was criticized for his debating style, he remains in first place with 29% of the republican vote. Carson takes second with 14% of the vote, and Jeb Bush remains in fourth at a steady 8%.

Desai believes that Republicans feel underrepresented in the current government, and therefore look to Trump to make sure they are heard.

“They[Trump’s supporters] think they have been silenced by Barack Obama,” Desai said. “And they believe Trump will always get their point across.”