I watched the debate last night. I thought it was a bit of a mess with the moderators not really doing their job. The entire debate was to have been focused on economic issues. Surely the moderators should have looked closely at each candidate’s taxing and spending policies and had the numbers at the ready to challenge them when they made absurd claims?
Instead we had the usual display of magical thinking. We heard all the Republican candidates claim that cutting taxes especially on the wealthy while increasing spending on defense will somehow result in eliminating the deficit, without specifying where the increased revenue will come from. The moderators allowed the candidates to simply make their claims and move on.
The only interesting exchange I thought was when Rand Paul challenged Marco Rubio about his plan to increase spending on defense without explaining where the money would come from. He said that bankrupting the US by this kind of profligate spending was a greater danger. Paul also said that the warmongering rhetoric by the others about what to do in the Middle East, such as creating no-fly zones in Iraq and Syria, would result in a direct confrontation with Russia, and that not talking with Russian president Putin was absurd when the US had always talked to the leaders of the Soviet Union even during the Cold War.
So on substance, I give the debate to Paul. But what he was saying is likely to not be a big winner with Republican voters. What they want to hear is tough talk, candidates bombastically calling Putin a ‘gangster’ (Rubio), saying that you should not even talk to him, and that what we need to do is spend even more money on the military so that we can show the world who’s the boss.
These guys are nuts.