Drunkblogging Tonight's GOP Debate

Back in 1988, the Democratic presidential contenders were known as "The Seven Dwarves," for the lack of big names (cough, Cuomo, cough) running that year.

This GOP race has been going on for approximately a week longer than ever, and it's taken this long to winnow the Main Event debate stage down to seven.

And if the latest polls are to be believed, six of them look like dwarves next to Donald Trump.

So grab a drink, take a seat, and let's get ready to ruuuuuuummmmmmmmmbbbbbbbble.

Trump was Trump: Uneven on the issues but connecting with his people.

Cruz was both Cruz and non-Cruz: He was sometimes Reaganesque and hitting it out of the park, sometimes bunting and missing anyway.

Rubio was over-caffeinated.

Everybody else -- if anybody else matters at this point -- played to type for good and ill.

Fox Business did a better job this time, at least rated on the Modern Not-Really-A-Debate Curve. Last time FB hosted a debate, I was shocked at how often they used Dem talking points to frame their questions. There was much less of that tonight.

My big disappointment? Two of them.

There are still too many people on the stage, and I was really, really hoping for some good Bernie burns.

But I supposed that can wait until he draws first and second blood on Hillary in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Just the thought of that calls for a drink.


See you tomorrow.

Ah -- closing statements.

So it's over at long last.

More in a moment.

He didn't, it's true.

Now Jeb is pinning the blame for Washington's problems on Rubio and Cruz.

Is that sad and desperate or desperate and sad?

And now it's Cruz v Rubio...

Yeah, Cruz is weak on flip-flopping.

He's weak on pandering, too, but that's pretty much a universal in politics.

Rubio on immigration: "This issue has to be now... about keeping America safe."

Does anyone believe Rubio's debate judo here?

Exactly as I feared.

I understand Christie might have at some point been a US attorney.

There was some small disruption from the crowd, but I couldn't tell what they were chanting.

Question to Trump: How to divest yourself of business interest if you're POTUS?

He says he'll give everything to his kids.

I'm pretty sure there's a two-hour limit on all political debates somewhere in the Geneva Conventions.

"You already had your chance, Marco -- you blew it."

-Christie taking over the stage as a question about entitlements turned into a cage match on tax plans.

Sugar is Florida's ethanol.

Rubio is right on fighting any VAT proposal (which is not what Cruz is selling).

This is where I remind you about the Fair Tax.

"Corporate inversion is one of our biggest problems."



Carson and Kasich need to get the axe before the next debate.

I'm honestly trying to pay attention to Christie's corporate tax plan, but I can't take my eyes off of this.

Hmm. Thoughts?

I feel micro-aggressed.

Cruz says "abolish the IRS" and the crowd went wild.

The crowd being me and the dog under my desk.

It's nice to see the GOP contenders rise as (almost) one to fight Trump on his idiot trade war.

Cruz, however, is curiously silent...

And the loser will be American consumers -- and the less they earn, the more they'd lose.

Trump is an idiot on currency devaluation.

And trade.

That "fascinating discussion" post has the wrong image attached, and I can't seem to fix it. Just click the link instead.

Not one of these guys sounds rational talking about a "solution" to Syria.


Intriguing discussion from Insty's comments section.

My question is, would Cruz become the first Veep to resign his position to take a seat on the Supreme Court?

And I would dearly love to read that story.

Now it's Jeb v Trump.

It doesn't matter what your personal feelings about immigration might be, Trump has captured the zeitgeist while Jeb sounds like his father channeled through his brother. Or maybe the other way around. Either way, Jeb is flailing here, even after landing a couple of decent jabs.

"We can't be the Stupid Country anymore."

Another great Trumpism.

To Trump: "Is there anything you've heard to make you rethink this position [on temporarily banning Muslim refugees]?"



"Tell them if you put people in them, we're going to bomb them, so don't put people in them."

-Carson on Obama's ridiculous ROE for ISIS.

I love this. Love love LOVE this.

I don't normally endorse the CAPSLOCK, but I'm also not about to argue with Mollie Hemingway on this one.

Dear John Kasich:

Name-dropping Strom Thurmond and Donald Rumsfeld might not be your best bet for bringing along younger voters. Or moderates. Or people with pulses.

"The smell, the air... but we rebuilt downtown Manhattan... the world watched... that was a very insulting statement Ted made."

Even Cruz had to nod along and applaud.

Damn -- Trump playing the 9/11 Card on Cruz...

This is good stuff, solid stuff. Trump at his coherent at heartfelt best.

It's nice to see Cruz finally working against what I've long called his "likability deficit" in his TV appearances.

But is it too little, too late?


C'mon, Cruz -- I had five bucks on you going after Bernie first.

Not exactly debate-related, but it's making the rounds and it caught my eye.

"That's not a democracy; that's a dictatorship."

-Christie on Obama's gun control executive orders, circumventing Congress

Gun control is nice red meat, and I'm personally enjoying this part of the show.


It isn't really an issue for a GOP president with a GOP (or even a divided) Congress, where gun control is a dead issue. But there is a small danger here of delivering talking points to the Dem candidates tomorrow morning.

Coherence is not Trump's strong suit.

"No. I am a Second Amendment person," says Trump to a question about ANY restrictions on gun sales.

The question to Jeb is about gun control, and of course the framing includes the local mass shooting.

Jeb's answer is solid, but the problem is that he never seems particularly engaged on any issue. He has his talking points, he delivers them competently, he rarely shows real passion, and he wonders why he's failed to connect.

Commercial break.

I really want to top off this lovely Oban, but I really have to slow it down while I'm still on the Mucinex.


Asked to open an attack on Bill Clinton for his dalliances, Carson instead goes into a riff on decency and... I dunno, stuff.

I was hoping for some red meat, but it just isn't in Carson to deliver that, unfortunately.

I haven't seen Kasich use this hand gesture, where he makes a fist with his right hand down at his leg, then raises it WAY up to indicate that he's very into whatever it is that he's saying. He seems to prefer using this gesture in twos.

Carson asks for a turn to speak because "I was mentioned... he said 'everybody'."

Rick might be a little too enthusiastic in his statement here, but there's no doubt that the Trump v Cruz battle we just witnessed is going to be in all the headlines tonight.

Unless it gets worse/better from here...

"No one here is under FBI investigation, so we are a good group of people."

Niiiiiice, Marco.

But who will be the first GOP contender to recognize the new reality and slip the shiv into Bernie?

Hey, Chris Christie -- remember him?

My bad. The question was to Rubio.

It's an energetic debate, all right.

Compare that with the last Democrat Dog & Ass Show, if you dare.

"I think I'll go back to building buildings if it doesn't work out."


Now Rubio's angling to get back in, since somebody mentioned him in passing.

This has become the Trump-Cruz show, and it's anybody's guess who gets top billing.

"You can't do that to the party," says Trump.

Once again, I'll just leave that there.

"I don't have to win this way," says Trump.

I'll just leave that there.

"I'm not going to use your mother's [Scottish] birth against you."

Totally stolen from Reagan, totally well-delivered.

Of course, Cruz opened himself for a counterattack by mentioning the polls, and Trump is nailing him for it. "You shouldn't misrepresent how well you're doing."

Here's the birther question for Cruz...

"I'm glad we're focusing on the important topics of the evening."

Reaganesque, and right on the heels of Cruz deftly dismissing the NYT loan story.

"The Constitution hasn't changed," Cruz says gesturing to Trump, "but the polls have."

He's nailing this so far tonight.

On a personal note, tonight is the first Drunkblog I've had the VodkaBunker Beverage Cart (a Christmas gift from the Missus) fully decked out with ice in the bucket, rocks glasses, and a nice selection of liquor.

I think it helps, don't you?

Commercial break. Time for that refill.

"The New York Times and I don't exactly have the warmest relationship."

A canned response from Cruz, but it's a very nice can.

I have no idea what Trump is trying to say, but he's saying it right to the camera and ends with "Our country is a mess."

Who can argue?

And now... Trump.

He's talking about the Paris attack like the wounded are still bleeding.

I'll have whatever he's having.

Carson jokes about being ignored in the previous debates.

He's turned up the energy a bit, but that's not saying much.

And now he's talking in big theoreticals and completely lost the thread.

Dang. Tonight's first scotch is already gone.

Damn, Rubio comes out on the attack on Benghazi.

Rubio's problem is that on the stump he sounds like Reagan, but back in DC he sounds like a Democrat.

Hillary "might going back and forth between the White House and the courthouse," says Jeb to some good laughs.

I wonder who wrote that line for him. He has good people.

"A Caliphate the size of Indiana," warns Jeb Bush.

Is that just the lamest warning ever? Sounds like they're into basketball, maybe some jihad.

"When would you go to war?" is a question no candidate should be dumb enough to answer, and which every ambitious journalist is stupid enough to ask.

Foreign policy question to Christie, on when and when not to go to war.

He eased into a funny attack on Obama's SOTU two night ago (my liver needs no such reminder), and then sells himself as a trusted truth teller to our allies.

Yeah, Christie is too liberal to be the nominee, but a smart GOP President would give him a position dealing with the press.

Kasich sounds like he's running for Governor of America, which is not an actual position.

Kasich wants to freeze all federal regulations for one year. Perhaps he needs to acquaint himself with my proposed Omnibus Do-Over Act of 2017, which repeals and invalidates every law passed since 1998.

First question -- yea, no intro speeches! --is about the economy, and Cruz is talking about the Iran Boat Situation instead.

Now switching gears to a populist attack on how well DC is doing compared to the rest of the nation.

Even Kasich looks like he isn't exactly sure why he's there.

In the GOP, I mean.

Dana Loesch wanted to know if there was any decent rationale for including Kasich while excluding Paul.


Does every debate have to start with a Full Bob Costas Olympic-level introduction video?

Kevin needs to drown that urge in bourbon -- while staying away from open flames.

I believe Reince just promised not to let the Democrats kick his ass in the data game quite so badly this time around.

I didn't have time tonight to watch the undercard debate, so if anyone wants to fill me in down there in the comments, I'll read them catch-as-catch-can.