With the Iowa Caucuses coming up this Monday, the presidential candidates aim to do all they can to set themselves up for a win in Iowa. For many Republican candidates, this included the last GOP debate before the primaries, which occurred on Thursday.
Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Paul, Kasich, Bush, and Carson all took the stage on Thursday to solidify their positions on policy and attempt to sway those last undecided voters. The most publicized issue going into the debate was Trump's decision not to attend due to conflict with Fox, mainly debate moderator Megyn Kelly. The candidates did not hesitate to comment on that fact, with Bush saying he missed Trump, for "he was such a little teddy bear." Cruz gave his best Trump impression by satirically insulting fellow candidates based on issues from appearance to surgical abilities.
But the debate was not all fun and games. In fact, with Trump unable to dominate the stage with his personality and attacks on other candidates, those in attendance were able to express and develop some of their own ideas on policy. Bush, who had not shown as much success in prior debates, demonstrated his strengths through his discussion of immigration, advocating for pathways to citizenship rather than deportation. Paul, whose poll numbers have looked abysmal as of late, was able to give his opinions on criminal justice reform, controlling NSA surveillance, and auditing the Federal Reserve Bank so set him apart from the competition and hopefully give him a boost in the polls.
There was a considerable amount of criticism targeted toward Hillary Clinton. Whether it was Christie promising to "prosecute the case against Clinton" regarding her email scandal or Rubio slamming her statement that Obama would make a great Supreme Court Justice, the GOP candidates made it clear that Clinton is not fit to be president.
It does make sense to criticize Clinton, and not simply because she is a Democrat and not a Republican. With the primaries just around the corner, Republican voters need to decide on who will represent them in the general election, and Clinton is the most likely candidate to go up against the GOP. While the general election is not yet upon us, it is important to consider which Republican candidate has the best shot at defeating Clinton come November. Those who consistently compare themselves to Clinton show voters that the best way to ensure a Republican wins the general election is to vote for them.
Who knows, maybe the candidates are trying to get voters to subconsciously imagine them as the nominee in some sort of attempt to hypnotize them into voting accordingly during the upcoming primaries. Carson, with his background in neuroscience, would know best. Perhaps that is why he looks so relaxed all the time.
What are your thoughts on all of this? Who performed well in the debate, and who did not? What were some of the more valid points made by the candidates? What effect did Trump's absence have on the debate and the candidates themselves?