At Saturday evening’s CBS GOP debate, the six remaining candidates attended to an important matter. They paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away earlier in the day. As the men respectfully bowed their heads to the staunchly conservative Scalia, Donald Trump noticeably chose not to do so. The above photo was captured immediately prior to John Kasich lowering his own noggin, so Trump was the only rebel. This was perhaps the most civilized moment of the evening. While there was no protracted torture discussion, the candidates got messy during several instances. They first did so while discussing when (and by whom) Scalia’s successor should be appointed.
Before the debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell advocated for waiting a full year until Scalia would be replaced. That would be an unprecedented delay, but that’s what the Republican McConnell would like to happen. The GOP candidates took the same stance, for they absolutely don’t want President Obama to replace the master of fiery dissents with a liberal justice. Trump put the matter quite simply: “Delay, delay, delay.”
Next up, Kasich (who acted as the narrator of reason all evening) bemoaned how “not even two minutes after the death of Judge Scalia,” the world argued over who would replace him. That didn’t stop Ben Carson from adding that “we’re not going to get healing with President Obama.” For that reason, Carson thinks a replacement should wait. Marco Rubio agreed and added that “the Constitution is not a living and breathing document,” which was his way of saying another “originalist” should be appointed under the next president. Then Ted Cruz and the moderator clashed over whether a justice has been confirmed in an election year during the past 80 years.
Cruz did make a damn good point, which is that Scalia’s loss affects the balance of the Supreme Court in a drastic manner. Scalia was such an ultra-conservative that his opinions (and his dissents) on religious freedom, the Second Amendment, and a host of other hot-button issues greatly mattered. The president who replaces Scalia will wield great power for generations to come.
The rest of the proceedings devolved into a series of attacks. We saw this happen on a smaller scale in New Hampshire, but this South Carolina debate filled itself with clumsily tossed insults. You could barely hear the issues over all the shouting. Let’s run down five such altercations:
Ted Cruz vs. Marco Rubio And The Spanish Language
Cruz and Rubio (who was decidedly less robotic than at the last debate) went head-to-head on immigration, which is a topic both of them have heavily flip-flopped upon (as illustrated by Megyn Kelly). Cruz launched an assault on how Rubio “right now supports citizenship for 12 million people here illegally. I oppose citizenship.” Cruz then pointed out Rubio’s extended record of amnesty, but what really riled Cruz up is how “Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office.” To this, Rubio countered that Cruz couldn’t possibly understand his Univision speech “because he doesn’t speak Spanish.” This was greeted with shocked noises from the crowd and — as if by magic — Cruz speaking Spanish.
The best part of this video clip? The off-camera Trump laughter at 0:23.
Donald Trump vs. Ted Cruz’s Lies
Well, this had to happen. Cruz has had it with the name calling, and Trump has had it with Cruz’s slimy campaign maneuvers. Trump accused Cruz of sending “robo-calls” that say, “Donald Trump is not going to run in South Carolina.” Cruz turned to Trump and said, “I like Donald, he is an amazing entertainer but his policies for most of his life…” Trump responded, “Thank you very much, I appreciate it.” After Cruz yammered about Planned Parenthood and Trump being too soft, Trump had enough: “You probably are worse than Jeb Bush. You are single biggest liar. This guy will say anything, nasty guy. Now I know why he doesn’t have one endorsement from any of his colleagues.” Well, Trump is certainly correct about that last statement.
Jeb Bush’s Family Values vs. Donald Trump
We already discussed this fight, but it deserves another quick mention. Jeb Bush was forced to defend his family after Trump went in hard with a variety of insults. This was only the beginning, and Cruz’s angelic expression during the argument was priceless.
John Kasich and Ben Carson vs. All The Fighting
Poor Kasich cares too much and simply cannot handle any more arguing. After the earlier Bush-Trump showdown, he stammered out a “This is just crazy. This is just nuts. Geez, oh man.” After several more squabbles, the Ohio governor warned, “I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this.” Kasich urged his fellow candidates to drop the “negative ads, and all the negative comments” and simply talk about the issues; and “let’s sell that” to build a stronger political party. Ben Carson softly added, “We cannot be tearing each other down.” Now, this sentiment is nothing new from Kasich. This video mashup (which he tweeted in December) illustrates how Kasich can’t cope with “all the fighting.”
Ben Carson vs. Ben Carson’s Fake Stalin Quote
Well, this mishap put a feather into one messy nightcap. Carson managed to endure the evening with much grace (compared to several other battling candidates) until he quoted Joseph Stalin in his closing statement: “Joseph Stalin said if you want to bring America down you have to undermine three things — our spiritual life, our patriotism, and our morality.” The logic in using this quote would be decent, but unfortunately, the quote is entirely fictional. Snopes.com previously traced the oft-repeated words to a Facebook meme that has been shared many thousands of times. Someone on Carson’s speech writing team must really be into social media, right? Crikey.
Here are a few more shouty photos to tide us over until the next GOP debate. See y’all next time for more Southern brawling in a non-Southern setting.