On Wednesday, the first of two CNN GOP Town Halls presented a host of awkward moments, which included a singing Ted Cruz, an EDM-loving Marco Rubio, and a sandman-esque Ben Carson. The Thursday night installment of this not-quite-riveting series brought John Kasich, Jeb Bush, and Donald Trump to the stage with Anderson Cooper on the mic.
The evening started out slow, but — as a whole — transformed into an oddball mixture of hugs, philosophy, and tabloid-style recollections. When these guys go one-on-one with a host, there’s not as much verbal violence coming down the pike, but Bush and Trump still managed to toss dirt around the joint. Kasich came off like the most upstanding guy in the world, which has much to do with his competitors. When one’s up against fellas like Cruz and Trump, sounding even relatively normal seems refreshing. Then again, the boisterous GOP candidates are the ones with the bigger poll numbers. Not much happened in the way of groundbreaking policy discussion, but the night included a discombobulating blend of heavier discussions from Kasich and comic relief from the other men. Here are some standout moments:
John Kasich Demonstrates His Solid Hugging Technique
One of the opening moments of this town hall recapped a poignant moment that occurred before Kasich stepped onstage. A supporter stood up and told Kasich about his father figure who committed suicide along with several other tragic happenings. Kasich, who has been playing the voice of reason among the GOP candidates, hugged the young man who found “hope in my presidential candidate that I supported.” Kasich told Cooper how this happens a lot, and that people often pour their hearts out to him. Can you imagine any of the other GOP candidates pulling off a segment like this one?
Jeb Bush (Sort Of) Explains Why He Tweeted A Gun Photo
A few days ago, Jeb caused an unimpressed internet reaction after tweeting an odd photo of a gun with a one-word caption: “America.” The personalized firearm contained a “Gov. Jeb Bush” etching, which leads one to believe that it belongs to Jeb’s years-old cache. Why would anyone gift Jeb with such an etching when he’s no longer governor of Florida? Jeb says that’s exactly what happened. He claims to have received this gun while touring South Carolina, and it has everything to do with supporting the Bill of Rights. And nothing to do with rustling up a few more votes after the latest dismal poll numbers arrived.
Donald Trump Downplays Pope Francis’ “Wall” Diss
Everyone saw this question coming after Trump entered into a war of words with Pope Francis when the latter declared the former to be “not Christian.” Francis pointed towards Trump’s proposed “wall” as a perfect example of wanting to divide rather than unite people. Well, Trump had a few things to say, including a “haha, no” moment when asked if he sought forgiveness for irritating Francis. Trump further elaborated upon how Francis is a “wonderful guy,” and the press exaggerated the conflict: “I don’t think this is a fight. I think he said something much softer than was originally reported by the media.” Trump said he’d love to meet with Francis, and he believes there was a misinterpretation of the true Trump immigration stance. What’s that? Man, Francis didn’t even go here or there with the criticism, but Trump still feels Francis heard the wrong story from the Mexican media.
Donald Trump Enjoys A Good Fish Filet, Okay?
Cooper broached the subject of fast food, and Trump admitted loving McDonald’s with a fish filet and a Big Mac high on his list of priorities. He’s also down with KFC, but he emphasizes a need for cleanliness. This question must have been preapproved, but one wonders what the motivation could have been. Is Trump trying to scrounge up a few more votes by proving billionaires can love fast food, too? This is truly bizarre subject matter for a guy who’s running for president.
John Kasich Will Work To Stop Violence Against Women
Kasich grew very serious when discussing a number of subjects, including his thoughts on addressing the current high rates of violence against women. Kasich has some strong feelings on domestic abuse and spoke of his concern as a parent of two teenage daughters. He can’t imagine tolerating anyone who would beat up someone’s daughters or mothers. He said, “We need to have an all-out war against this.” Kasich called this matter a “really significant moral issue” and a “severe criminal act.” He believes a president should push the legislature to take the matter more seriously.
Jeb Bush Talks About George W. Bush’s “Weird” Hobby
This was an unexpected diversion where Jeb talks about Dubya’s painting habit, which Jeb says is a bit “weird.” The larger discussion revolved around relaxation methods, and Jeb professes to kick back with his country music and boots. The painting sentiments included Jeb first calling Dubya’s art “primitive,” yet he admits things have nicely progressed. There’s a little envy here with this “Rembrandt” remark, but that’s probably typical when it comes to these brothers. Poor Jeb will always be a bridesmaid.
Donald Trump Knows The “Real Story” Of Michael Jackson
How on Earth did this tangent happen? Cooper inquired — as he did with all other candidates — about Trump’s taste in music. There wasn’t an awkward EDM answer as with Marco Rubio, but Trump listed off several classic rock acts, which jibes with the music I heard at one rally. (Trump noticeably omitted Adele from his list after she put the smackdown on him for playing her music.) Then things got super strange when Trump brought up Michael Jackson, who “was actually a very good friend of mine.” Trump praised the talented Jackson, who Trump believes “lost tremendous confidence because of, honestly, bad-bad-bad surgery. He had the worst. He had people that did numbers on him that were just unbelievable.” Trump explained that Jackson lived in Trump Tower for a long time, and he got married at a Trump resort. Trump added that Jackson disappeared for a week with Lisa Marie Presley after their marriage: “I don’t know what was going on, but they got along.” This was the most surreal moment of the evening.
Donald Trump Owns His Presidential Negotiating Skills
This Vine is a nice send off before the Saturday South Carolina primary hits. Trump, who can’t even face Megyn Kelly, believes he’s a great negotiator. His one-sided method is pure Trump: “I believe in compromise where I win.”