Trump, Cruz, and Rubio strengthened themselves in the fourth GOP debate which was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last night.
Trump regained his former form — irreverent, blunt, feisty, fearless, and strong. He dished out red meat all night. His best moments were in his dissection of the excuses for granting amnesty and his explanation of the feasibility of deportation. He cited Eisenhower’s record but he might as well have cited Obama’s. In 2011, before he switched policies, the Obama Administration sent over 400,000 illegal immigrants home. It is not hard to see how this could be increased to several million a year with more manpower and resources.
Trump was also excellent in his critique of the Iraq War, including his proposal to keep some of the oil revenues to compensate those wounded in helping the nation secure its freedom.
Ted Cruz’ performance was very good. And not just his clarity, style, and forcefulness. His substance was groundbreaking. By tying unemployment and wage stagnation to illegal immigration, he set up the parameters of a position that can lure back the Reagan Democrats — the white, blue collar voters and co-opt the left’s issue of income inequality. He also spoke about “sound money” and implied a return to the gold standard — a brand new issue in the race. His answers on taxes and budget cuts were specific but not pedantic and his refusal to bail out banks sharply differentiated him from the DC consensus. (The rebuttal — that depositors would lose their money — is absurd. We still have the FDIC and federal government behind it).
Rubio’s evening showed his charisma, poise, and fluency. His answers about the minimum wage and his optimism about America were moving and important.
But Rubio set himself up for a big new negative in his proposal to add a trillion dollar entitlement in his “refundable” tax credit for families with children. A refundable tax credit is simply a welfare check in a nation where half the people pay no taxes to refund. When we combine this issue with Rubio’s deafening silence on amnesty — he sponsored the “gang of eight” bill on immigration — we see two potent negatives that can take him down.
Kasich behaved like a noisy child.
Fiorina was good but her time has passed.
Paul was great at starting arguments which he then lost.
Bush was his underwhelming self.
And Carson was pathetic. He showed he really couldn’t be more specific in discussing the Middle East than to say that “there are a lot of factions” running around. He gave no indication of the strength or knowledge a president must have to serve effectively.
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