GOP Roundup: A Comprehensive Review of the Republican Candidates by Bobby Melcher ’17

Donald Trump: “We don’t ‘win’ anymore.”

In the most recent Republican debate, Donald Trump seemed generally subdued, despite a few heated moments. Per usual, I observed very little mention of substantial policy from Mr. Trump. Regarding immigration, Trump proposed to secure the Southern Border via a guarded wall, “with a great big door in the middle”; stretching over 1,000 miles. Mr. Trump used the Great Wall of China as an example. But the best part, Trump said, is that he would force the Mexican Government to, “pay for it.” Paraphrasing his own words, “the Mexicans love me, and I love them,” has been a constant theme in his campaign.

On taxes, Trump favored the progressive tax plan. This type of tax system requires people of higher income, not only to pay a higher amount of taxes, but to pay them at a higher percentage than people of lower income. In my view, this penalizes productivity, and I was very shocked that the TV personality and real estate mogul supported such a destructive policy. I personally regard the additional tax hikes as involuntary charity; otherwise known as theft.

When a question was asked about the 4 corporate bankruptcies filed, Trump told the audience of how others in his fied learn to, “use the law to our advantage.” Mr. Trump ensued that filing the bankruptcies was a pure business tactic. He proceeded to clarify that he himself has never filed for bankruptcy. One should ask, “if Donald Trump cannot manage his own finances, how should we expect him to manage ours’?” In his final remarks, Trump criticized the fact that, “we don’t win anymore.”

Lastly, Trump spoke about gun control. When asked about gun free zones, Trump railed against them, calling them, “target practice for the crazies”. He also brought up the absurdity of gun free zones on military bases, where authorized personnel are trained to defend themselves. Personally, I don’t believe that a criminal will put down his gun because of a sign. This was one of the few issues I and Mr. Trump agree on.

Dr. Ben Carson: “That doesn’t make me a homophobe.”

During the first half of the debate, Carson was hammered with charged questions from the moderators, specifically about his tax policy. The moderators attempted to portray Dr. Carson as theocratic, considering his remarks made about the biblical principle of tithing. Dr. Carson dismissed these accusations, saying that the idea was merely the inspiration for his actual tax plan, and that a flat rate of 15% would be more realistic. After presenting statistics about how the rate would not be enough to cover nationwide expenditures, the moderator asked the accomplished neurosurgeon, “can you do math?” Carson rebuttled, advocating for less waste in government spending. “It isn’t a fantasy,” Dr. Carson remarked, providing the numbers for alternative areas to produce the required funds.

When asked about government spending, as well as the current political atmosphere, Carson responded frankly. He called the government, “overreaching,” in its habitual spending, and chastised “profiteering politicians.” Philosophically, Carson stressed the importance of limited government. Dr. Carson told the audience that, “government should get out of our lives.”

Lastly, Carson was asked yet another provocative question. The moderator told Dr. Carson that he used to be a member on the board of directors for a company that supported commerce from the LGBT community, contradicting his beliefs in the issue. Carson replied that, while his personal views on gay marriage discourage it, the Constitution protects all individuals under the law; regardless of their race, creed, orientation, etc. Carson also told the audience that disagreeing with gay marriage, “doesn’t make me a homophobe.”

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio: (On Marijuana) “We’re working on it.”

Gov. Kasich covered many controversial topics, from entitlement policy to immigration. However, Kasich often called out the candidates without official political experience, saying, “we need someone who can do this job.” Gov. Kasich also touted his, “record of success,” in Ohio; specifically  about balancing the state budget, along with addressing Medicaid/Medicare.

Subsequently after Gov. Kasich’s remarks about his record in Ohio, Mr. Trump highlighted a key driving force of success in Ohio. Trump stated that, “he only got lucky because of fracking.” Fracking, a new energy harvesting process, did in fact boost Ohio’s economy; substantially. The governor seemed to omit this detail. In another comment, Trump illustrated Kasich’s role in the demise of Lehman Brothers, as many suggest that the former cooperate banker’s policies led to its financial collapse.

On immigration, Kasich railed against Trump’s proposition for deporting all illegal immigrants in the country, saying that it would, “tear apart families.” While this may be the hard truth, the fact of the matter is that the United States is country of laws and borders. One might also suggest that these patrons could show greater love to their families by working toward legal residence.

When asked about the Marijuana issue on the ballot in Ohio, Gov. Kasich called drugs, “disgraceful,” and said that he was, “working on it.” After this partial answer, Kasich continued to advertise economic growth in Ohio.

Ted Cruz, Texas Senator: “This isn’t a cage match.”

I was quite surprised by the senator’s responses and commentary throughout the debate. Cruz told the audience that he was one of the few candidates who had, “fought for conservative ideals,” throughout his career. Looking at Sen. Cruz’s voting record reveals this statement to be true.

The debate got heated when one of the moderators asked Cruz about the American “crisis.” This was one of many charged questions asked by the moderators, and Sen. Cruz decided to use his speaking time to call out the bent style and word choice of such questions. He remarked, “this isn’t a cage match.” Cruz said the Democratic debate was, “filled with fawning questions.” Lastly, he called out the moderators’ strategy of trying to get the candidates to, “tear into each other.” This was a decisive moment in the debate, and all other candidates, notably Donald Trump and Chris Christie, followed Mr. Cruz’s precedent.

Carly Fiorina, Former CEO of Hewlett-Packard: “There’s politics in the boardroom too.”

In my analysis, I found very little concrete policy from Mrs. Fiorina. However, Mrs. Fiorina was backed into a corner several times because of harsh questioning about her tenure at HP. In her defense, Fiorina told the audience of her contract-bound accountability. For example, Mrs. Fiorina told viewers about how manipulating figures in fiscal reports would not only cost her her job, but also lead to legal prosecution. She asked the audience to imagine what would happen of Washington politicians were, “held up to the same standards.” I found this very interesting. She also said that the man who fired her from HP, Mr. Tom Perkins, publicly regretted her termination. Fiorina remarked, “I’ve made some tough calls,” and that, “there’s politics in the boardroom too.”

A major theme of Mrs. Fiorina’s message was continuously slamming established Washington bureaucrats. She condemned, “crony capitalism,” saying that the government, “favors the big and powerful,” because they themselves are big and powerful.

Marco Rubio, Florida Senator: “Do you hate your job?”

Right from the beginning, one could tell that the debate moderators were out to get Sen. Rubio. His first question dealt with suspicions that he was too, “inexperienced,” and, “not mature enough,” for the Presidency. Sen. Rubio responded, saying that he wouldn’t be held down by cries from the, “Republican Establishment.” The senator implied that he wouldn’t follow the common route of holding other positions before running for the White House.

Another theme Rubio stressed was slashing the, “government that we cannot afford.” In a previous question, Sen. Rubio was asked blatantly, “Do you hate your job?” The question was meant to take a stab it his less than perfect voting record in the Senate. Rubio went on to condemn the biased nature of this question. Through further research, I found that the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, also had the same lackluster voting record when he himself was campaigning for political office. This thought is definitely worth consideration. Sen. Rubio referred to the, “mainstream media,” as a gigantic, “super pac for the Democrats.”

Rubio targeted former the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, on several occasions, saying that all the candidates on the debate stage were better than anyone on the Democratic stage. Rubio also emphasized the importance of a strong middle class, proposing a tax plan that would reduce living expenses for middle income families. He also stresses the importance of education and social mobility.

However, I was not happy with Sen. Rubio’s soft approach to illegal immigration. Sen. Rubio supports “H1-B workers”; seasonal and other special laborers who migrate to the U.S., and return to their native country when their services aren’t needed. This was a very controversial subject, also supported by Mr. Trump. Rubio defended it, saying that the program has been, “abused,” on several accounts, and that it was intended for the workers to, “become Americans.”

Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator: “The IRS should be audited.”

I was generally pleased with Sen. Paul’s advocacy for limited, but efficient and beneficial government. Sen. Paul was blunt in his speech, promoting his ‘small but helpful government’ philosophy.

Sen. Paul talked about the government’s blatant mismanagement of our funds, saying that the Internal Revenue Service, “should be audited.” He also said that, “the government caused the housing boom, and it’s disaster,” to provide example. Paul proceeded with his views on the Medicare crisis. Rand Paul supported, “gradually increasing,” the age for which citizens can receive their entitlements, such as Social Security.

I am opposed to this policy, because of the manner in which these funds were procured. The money that goes into the entitlement programs is not freely given by we the citizens, but is automatically taken out of every paycheck that we will ever receive. Therefore, it is not our fault that the money has been mismanaged and squandered on wasteful government programs. In the end, this money rightfully belongs to the people, and I believe it should be received in due time, and not whenever the government decides to hand it over.

Mike Huckabee, Former Arkansas Governor: “Charred remains of our country.”

Throughout the debate, Gov. Huckabee championed Christian values. He also joined the others in bashing the lethargic and massive government. When asked if he felt that people on Wall Street should be jailed because of their recklessness, he had a candid responses, condemning them for their recklessness and greed.

On entitlements, Huckabee told the audience that the funds for the various programs, “are not the government’s money!”, that, “the government just reached in,” and took freely from hard working Americans. He then offered the comparison that paying more money into the system and not reforming it, is similar to the concept of giving a, “400 pound man,” more food and, telling him to eventually go on a diet.

In his closing statement, Huckabee said that, “I don’t want to walk my grandkids through the charred remains of our country.”

Jeb Bush, Former Florida Governor: “Political gridlock.”

Gov. Bush took the route of slamming the Obama Administration, saying that 6 million people have entered poverty since Barack Obama took office in 2009. He called Washington DC, “dysfunctional,” expressing his disdain for, “political gridlock.”

Gov. Bush attempted to take a page out of Rubio’s playbook, exposing Hillary Clinton as a liar, and promoting a strong middle class at the same time. Bush proposed proposed a drastic simplification of the tax code, saying that members of the middle class would fare best in his administration.

Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey: “I-owe-you’s”

Gov. Christie took the extreme offensive when it came to the Obama administration, as well as the candidates on the DNC podium. Targeting former Secretary Clinton, he told the audience that, “in the week that she was exposed as a liar,” she was heralded as a victor, by her diehard constituents. Gov. Christie was highly critical of the Obama Administration’s mismanagement of international threats such as ISIS. Christie also waved his record of fighting for conservatism in his highly liberal state.

When addressing the Entitlement Crisis, Christie told the audience that, “the government has lied to us and stolen from us.” He stated that the system is flawed, and filled with meaningless, “I-owe-you’s.” Christie went on to say that, “we need to save on entitlements.” Gov. Christie also favors the gradual increase of age for entitlement benefits. For this reason, along with his past political flip-flopping, I disagree with Gov. Christie.