GOP needs to narrow the field: Presidential debate commentary

The GOP candidates discuss policies in the first presidential debate of the season. (Courtesy of Facebook)

With a crowded field of 17 candidates, the GOP needs to begin whittling down its runners in earnest. That process started Thursday, Aug. 6 with the first presidential debate presented by Fox News. While there were highlights in the debate, it did not appear as if any candidate’s performance was significant enough to shake up the race.

As expected, the star of the show was Donald Trump. He started off the debate in true Trump style, nearly outright stating that he would consider running as a third-party ticket in the election. He continued from there by doubling down on his disparaging comments against women, bashing Mexico and U.S. politicians on immigration, and generally insulting everyone and everything possible.

If you’re a fan of Trump’s no-holds-barred style, then he was an entertaining part of the debate; however, for those of us who were looking for a mature, serious candidate to run against the Democratic nominee, Trump was a distracting circus.

Despite all of Trump’s negatives, the other 16 candidates all seemed to blend together to a certain degree – it’s hard to stand out in such a large field without employing Trump’s tactics. Even so, there were good moments. In the preliminary debate, Carly Fiorina stood out the most, delivering clear and powerful statements coupled with pointed attacks on Clinton, which earned her the “best of the rest” title in my estimation, and proved that the GOP field is not 100 percent male dominated (just 94 percent).

From the main stage, the primary players, besides Trump, appeared to be Rubio, Bush, Cruz and Walker, although all of the candidates had their standout moments. Some of the criticism about the debate was that no substantial policies were talked about, which I disagree with. You just had to be paying very close attention.

A majority of the candidates had far right of center policies, but many added personal touches with specific mentions of plans on immigration, the economy (flat tax was mentioned a surprising amount of times), and government reform packages. I feel like the main issue is that it’s hard to put forth a specific policy in one minute, and then even more difficult to remember all of the candidates’ policies.

My main takeaway from the debate is that there needs to be far fewer candidates. One practically needs a spreadsheet to even keep track of all the current ones! There simply are too many choices right now for anyone but political science majors and political buffs to analyze and pick who has the best of marginally different policies. While harsh, one-issue candidates and longshots such as Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal and others from the preliminary debate should take one for the team and drop out. With (relatively) limited Republican dollars to go around, I am sure that some candidates will run out of steam before or shortly after the first primaries. Then it will be more clear who, aside from Trump, has a shot at the GOP nomination.

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