That’s it for us tonight. We’ll have a separate post-debate analysis up soon, but if you didn’t watch the debate, here are a few highlights:
- Some initial impressions from Nate;
- China’s currency was discussed;
- As were “New York values”;
- No one liked President Obama;
- Cruz responded to questions about how he financed his Senate bid.
Or, start at the bottom and re-live the whole glorious experience for yourself.
In the last debate, Rubio attracted the most candidate-on-candidate vitriol, but this time around Cruz was the focal point on stage. He was attacked roughly 22 times — almost as many as Hillary Clinton. That’s probably not a coincidence: Cruz has been recently ascendant in the polls and in media coverage. As Trump said this evening, “No, I didn’t care before … now he’s doing better.”
Trump’s attacks and policy proposals are still driving the discussion for the GOP. Moderators asked the largest number of questions about Trump’s proposal to bar Muslim immigrants. His proposal for a tariff on Chinese trade and his questions about Cruz’s citizenship were also amplified by the moderators’ choice of topics.
Christie said Americans “know that this country is not respected around the world anymore.” If true, that would represent a big change since last spring, when the median proportion of people with a favorable view of the U.S. among 39 countries was 69 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.
Bush loves to talk about his economic record in Florida. He mentions the job creation and income gains the state saw on his watch, but rarely mentions the collapse that followed.
Under most scenarios, South Carolina is pretty darn important. Certainly it matters if the first two states split on the winner. If Trump wins both, the establishment is going to take whichever candidate did best in New Hampshire and try to battle back. If Cruz wins both … well, he’ll probably win South Carolina too, but we’re still going to want to see what happens after there’s been some winnowing of the establishment ranks.
Farai, that’s a great question about whether South Carolina will serve to sort the GOP field this year. South Carolina served to ensure that Bob Dole won the GOP primary in 1996 (after losing New Hampshire), that George W. Bush won the nomination in 2000 (after losing New Hampshire) and that John McCain won in 2008 (after losing Iowa). But then Gingrich won South Carolina in 2012, and it didn’t matter. I think all of the early states help to winnow the field, but none of them is the silver bullet for a candidate. So who can really say for sure?
I take back what I said a few minutes ago about Rubio being anemic. He really just leaned into Cruz (“I appreciate you dumping your oppo research folder here,” Cruz said in return). This is one of the most visible moments of them going after each other — a new chapter, perhaps?!
Christie said that the president and his attorneys general give the benefit of the doubt to criminals, not police officers. That hasn’t been the case in South Carolina, site of this debate: Over five years through last March, police officers in the state fired guns at 209 suspects; none of the officers was convicted of a crime. A police officer in the state who killed a man last April is being charged.
In 2008, the South Carolina Democratic primary was a turning point in the Democratic race, with John Edwards dropping out and Barack Obama besting Hillary Clinton. How likely do we think South Carolina is to become a major sorting mechanism for the GOP field this time around?
Here are the 2012 general election results, to give you a sense of the political geography of the state:
We might have heard about the deficit at the start of that segment, but none of the candidates seems too concerned about it in his tax plan. According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, Cruz’s tax plan would cost $3.6 trillion — with a “t” — over 10 years. (Other estimates are even bigger.) Other candidates’ plans aren’t quite as extreme but would still reduce revenues by billions of dollars. That’s a big shift from four years ago, when Mitt Romney at least nodded toward revenue neutrality in his tax proposals.
Here’s a guide to how to make sense of the kind of crime statistics Neil Cavuto just cited in his question to Christie.
Some quick observations:
- I’m pretty sure that Cruz had a good night;
- I’m NOT sure that Trump had a bad night;
- While the substance of Jeb’s remarks has been fine, he’s been reprising a lot of tactical decisions that have sunk him to 4 percent in the polls;
- Rubio, rather than being a focal point for attacks, has been competent but largely absent from the frame — not sure if that’s a good or bad outcome for him on balance;
- Is Ben Carson still running?
Ted Cruz says his value-added tax (known as a VAT) is a tax on businesses, not on consumers. Economists argue that’s a distinction without a difference. If you’re taxing businesses, they’ll pass those costs on to their customers.
He’s not really here to smell the blood in the water, though — other candidates might insert themselves a bit more … like Christie.
In fairness to Rubio, he’s only gotten four questions from the moderators (tied with Kasich for most neglected, so far). Cruz has gotten twice as many.
That Dowd thing is so off base, I think. Rubio has seemed really anemic tonight. That speaking time tally we saw only a few minutes ago put him at the bottom of the group with Carson. He’s kinda just been there on the stage. Not really getting into things much, which is kind of his MO at this point in the campaign.
Micah, Matthew Dowd thinks Rubio will benefit:
It seems like the only headline coming out of tonight will be the Trump-Cruz fight. Does anyone think anything else will break through?
What’s the basis for Christie’s claim that he vetoed more tax increases than any other governor in history? He attributes it to Americans for Tax Reform. They, basically, Googled it. Of course, Christie has had lots of opportunities, by governing a state with a Democratic-controlled legislature.
It’s interesting that moderator Maria Bartiromo framed her question about infrastructure in the context of the national debt. As my colleague Andrew Flowers wrote earlier today, the debt and the deficit have largely disappeared as Republican talking points in this campaign.
No sooner do I complain about the lack of economic discussion, and Trump dives into the details of currency and trade. Can’t get much wonkier than that!
The idea that China keeps its currency artificially low is a long-standing talking point from both the right and the left. A cheap currency helps China by making its products cheaper for buyers overseas, and it hurts U.S. exporters by making their products expensive in China. A few years ago, there was little question China’s currency was undervalued, but the Chinese government allowed the yuan (also known as the renminbi) to appreciate against the dollar in the years after the recession.
Now, however, China’s currency is once again weakening against the dollar. That’s partly because China’s economy is slowing while the U.S.’s is getting stronger. But the Chinese government also devalued the yuan last year, sparking condemnation from many U.S. lawmakers.
Trump, like Cruz before him, attacked The New York Times. That’s probably a good idea. According to a 2014 Pew Research Center poll, just 19 percent of self-identified Republicans and independents who lean Republican trust the Times for news on government and politics. Fox News, on the other hand, has the trust of 70 percent of this same group.
Econ wonks like me are annoyed that a debate hosted by Fox Business Network, and nominally focused on the economy, has spent so much time on foreign policy. As New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum quipped:
But our parochial interests aside, it’s hard to blame the moderators for shifting attention to international affairs. Just a few months ago, it looked like this election would be fought primarily on economic issues, just as the past two have. But that was before the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. All of a sudden, voters are more concerned about terrorism than the economy.
“I want security for this country,” Trump just said. Bush, in addressing the possibility of Islamic terrorists entering the U.S., took a more discursive path to decrying Trump’s statements about barring Muslims from immigrating to the U.S. And now several of the candidates have weighed in on whether the U.S. should accept Muslim immigrants, Syrian refugees, both or neither. How the States currently deal with refugees varies greatly. This Washington Post chart shows trends in the refugee resettlement by state:
A Quinnipiac poll a few weeks ago found that Republicans, by a narrow margin, opposed Trump’s proposal of a temporary ban on Muslims entering the country. But most Republicans backed a ban on Syrian refugees. Christie made that same distinction.