Highlights of the Second Republican Debate

Michael Ruberto

Wednesday September 16, 2015 marked the 2nd Republican Debate for the 2016 presidential nomination. This time around, the GOP alone is putting up 16 potential candidates, one of the largest numbers in recent elections. With so many candidates, things are bound to get a little confusing, especially during debates.

Because there are too many candidates, two debates took place on Wednesday. The early “Undercard Debate” featured the bottom four candidates based on polls. These were South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former New York Governor George Pataki. The other 11 candidates participated in the “Prime Time Debate.” Both of the debates had their stand-out moments, and will impact the future race for the presidency.

The Undercard Debate

Though not nearly as noteworthy as its Prime Time counterpart, there were still notable moments from the first debate. Candidates Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki met at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California to discuss the pressing issues plaguing the American people and global community.

Sen. Lindsey Graham stole the show, making important comments about policy, as well as fellow candidates Trump and Clinton. Graham referred to Trump’s plans for foreign policy “the Cartoon Network.” In addition, Bobby Jindal called out President Obama, blaming the refugee crisis in the Middle East on Obama’s inability to control ISIS. Jindal was also attacked for questioning the legitimacy of front-runner Donald Trump’s run, stating that if Trump was elected, the GOP would be sure to lose the race. Finally, Rick Santorum went head-to-head with George Pataki over Pataki’s comment that he would fire the Kentucky County Clerk who defied the Supreme Court’s order to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Santorum asserted, “Today, someone who refuses to [follow] a Judge’s unconstitutional orders is ridiculed, criticized, chastised, because she is standing up and not . . . denying her faith.”

The end to the Undercard Debate approached, giving way to the Prime Time, and the front runners of the Republican Party.

The Prime Time Debate

Returning to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the top 11 GOP candidates stood on stage to debate their plans to solve global issues. This was the largest group of candidates to participate in a debate in modern history. Among these presidential hopefuls were Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and, of course, Donald Trump.

After participating on the undercard at the first debate, former CEO of HP Carly Fiorina joined the prime time debate and surprised viewers with a strong showing. She fired back at Trump following prior remarks he made in regards to her physical appearance. A big talking point for Fiorina was her plans to enforce and show off America’s power overseas, namely against Russia and their president, Vladimir Putin. Finally, she reaffirmed her passionate stance against Planned Parenthood, stating, “This is about the character of our nation.” Debate night was a powerful push forward for Carly Fiorina, which will likely lead to a bump in the polls.

Continuing the trend of improvement, Jeb Bush preformed stronger this time around. His energy levels were noticeably higher at this debate, truly beginning to live up to the exclamation point in his logo (Jeb!). He touched upon his brother’s legacy as the 43rd president. Another notable moment came when he admitted to using marijuana years back. He called out Trump as well, this time for comments he made about Bush’s wife. This performance was a step up, but no one knows if it will be enough to boost him ahead in the polls.

And finally, Donald Trump. Surprisingly enough, the front-runner took a few hits along the way. His usual bombastic and inflammatory personality did not control the debate. In fact, by the end of the debate, he appeared to have calmed down, even high-fiving his arch rival Jeb Bush at one point. Trump’s biggest hit came from Fiorina, when, as mentioned above, he was called out for insulting her appearance. However, to the dismay of some, despite a faulty performance at this debate, it does not appear that there will be any significant repercussions to Trump’s campaign as a result.

With the conclusion of Prime Time, the 2nd Republican Debate wrapped up. There were many surprising highs and lows, and there will be a lasting, visible change for the remainder of the 2016 presidential race. The next major Republican Debate will take place on Wednesday, October 28th, where there will likely be many more controversies to cover.