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The First GOP Primary Debate

Did you watch the debate? Did you watch Tucker's interview of Trump? Neither? Both?

This afternoon, I was asked this question:


Dorothy, What was your personal take on the debate, or did you watch it? I just watched the highlights. Any observations that struck you?

To be honest, I did not watch the debate in real time - and it was difficult to find anything BUT the highlights when I went looking for it. But I figured that there might actually be people who might want my take, so I did watch it after the fact - at double speed because, I mean...it can be torture to sit through two hours of politicians talking!


I am not a Republican, so keep in mind that my take is from someone who cannot vote in the Florida primary, yet all the participants seemed like they were trying to set themselves apart from everyone else on the stage precisely for the Republican primary voter...(which they always do).


It will be interesting to see how the actual race shapes up. For example, Democrats hated Kamala Harris in the primary season, but then were thrilled to vote for her in the general election...all the attacks Democrats made against each other - especially against Biden and Harris - were quickly forgotten by the Democrat voters.


I'm not sure Republican voters are similar.in that regard...there are many who did not forget Trump's treatment of their favored politicians in 2016! Not to mention, their symbol is an Elephant for a reason....(well, the ass is the Democrats for a reason, too!). Anyway...


Additional thoughts:

  • Tired, old approaches to economic topics that the average American does not understand. Yes, they may understand that things cost more and it is harder to make ends meet, but we have a generation of adults who do not understand monetary policy or the role of government in why their lives are better one way or another. As the national debt is now in such high numbers an ordinary person cannot even CONCEIVE of the size of the number, we are trying to get them to care about it without telling them why. (This is, perhaps, the moderators' fault, but I would like to see a candidate who is willing to be honest with the American people on this issue - and even do some broad education about why they should care.)

  • The participants were all talking like this is a country where everything will always go on as it always has and "problems" can best be handled the same way they always have been. I don't see it that way.

  • From a former foreign policy analyst: No one has good foreign policy solutions (that they can articulate in 30 seconds, anyway).

  • Nikki had a great answer (possibly the best articulated one) to the national abortion ban question (especially if you include her back and forth with Pence, whose dismissal of her position is damaging to the cause he claims to believe in, not to mention bringing people to consensus takes incredible leadership skills). But the North Dakota governor was right about the 10th Amendment too - this is not something that should be nationalized. It rightly belongs in the hands of the states.

  • The attacks against Vivek (especially regarding his inexperience) will only help Vivek with the common American voter. 2016 (Trump's success) was because he, too, was an outsider. Biden is the opposite of an outsider (50 years in politics) - if he is the opponent, a more likeable "Trump-esque" outsider candidate will resonate with middle America. And he was absolutely right about Trump and the weaponization of the justice system. (And Tim Scott had a good follow up for that.)

  • Most of them kept touting their "resume" (experience as this or that) - as their authority from which they speak. Although I understand they are trying to sell themselves, this (to me, at least) seems gratuitous and nauseating (very inauthentic).

  • Christie was difficult to swallow. Nationalizing prosecutions is dangerous. This is exactly what Democrats want to do, so not helpful in a Republican primary - or at least demonstrates that leaders in both parties want the same thing. Nationalizing any policy (especially policy that has always been left in the hands of smaller governments) is always dangerous in a constitutional federal republic -- especially when it is no longer behaving constitutionally and those holding office have already demonstrated their desire and willingness to operate outside the constitution.

  • Pence wants to take credit for Trump's wins. This seems disingenuous. Pence's "pie in the sky" denial of the direction of this country is also disconcerting.

  • DeSantis's strongest talking points were about COVID lockdowns and holding Fauci accountable, knowing how to handle emergencies, and admitting the decline of the country.

  • Vivek was fearless. Again, this will help him with the middle America voter, I think.

  • I just like smart, strong women, so I want to believe Nikki did a fairly good job of holding her own.

  • Tim Scott could have made stronger, bolder statements.

  • The other "old-timey politicians" were exactly as one might expect. (Nauseating? Inauthentic? Boring? Tiresome? Rehearsed? I don't know...)

  • Many answers/replies were political in that they got out what they wanted to say but did not answer the question (again, typical).

  • After watching the whole thing, based on body language, vocal tone, and interactions with each other, the moderators and the audience, it did not seem like anyone on the stage was really taking this first debate seriously. (Maybe because their chief rival was not on the stage with them?) It will be interesting to see if anything changes in the next one.

  • The bickering was "more polite" (?) than when Trump was bullying the other Republican primary candidates in 2016, but the attacks still seemed small and petty.

Based on polling numbers right now, the reality is that Donald Trump (were there not the specter of criminal trial over his head) would be without ANY DOUBT the Republican nominee (and still probably will be) -- even if 75% of Americans do not want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden. But if they are knowingly "running for VP"...that would change some of my analysis.


And as this is Freedom Academy, I would first like to see someone tackle this idea of democracy (big ask, I know) as a BAD THING (a monumental ask, I know). And I would also like to see someone articulate their position on freedom and individual liberty, the role of government in protecting rights, and the proper role of the constitution in the constraining of government.


Robert Kennedy, Jr. has taken a shot at that from the Democrat side (and is thus being dismissed by Democrat pundits, it seems). Any Republicans ready to jump into that conversation? Is it time for a MAJOR third party? (Perhaps the 2024 election will produce the conditions necessary for a large segment of the American population to reject one or both of the two currently dominating parties.)


Just my thoughts. What are yours?


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I have several “pet peeves” that seem to manifest themselves in every debate: - Ignoring the time

- Failure to answer the question

- Cheap shots at the opponent

Such folks are self-centered and have little respect for the host and the viewing public.


I watched the debate (live] and the Trump interview (YouTube). I thought the interview format more revealing. I’d like to see interviews of each candidate with a well-prepared host who would ask direct and penetrating questions, provide little-to-no wiggle-room, and require candidates answer the question asked.

This year, I plan to scratch beneath the surface to understand more the character and world view of the top candidates, to base decisions on that rather than their sound-bites.…

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