A New American Reality TV Show
Number of times Ronald Reagan was mentioned: 26
Number of times Hillary Clinton was mentioned: 9
Number of times the phrase “Defund Planned Parenthood” was mentioned: 6
Number of times something intelligent was mentioned: 0
23 million people tuned in Sept. 16 to watch three hours of continuous lies, accusations and at times laughable “debate” during the second GOP primary debate hosted by CNN at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. The 11 leading Republican candidates were positioned on stage based on their rankings in recent polls and were each supposedly allotted equal time to talk over each other.
Ronald Reagan’s presidential plane was the backdrop for the event. Some may think the plane was there to reinforce to viewers that Reagan is the patron saint of the modern Republican party, but in reality CNN was hoping the candidates would file onto the plane, fly away and disappear into the Pacific Ocean never to be found again — just so they could have something to cover for the next six months.
There were plenty of enlightening moments in the debate when candidates shed light on issues of great importance. Carly Fiorina spoke passionately about a Planned Parenthood video containing allegations that have since been proven false. Sen. Ted Cruz feverously declared that he would “rip to shreds” the Iran Nuclear Deal on day one of his presidency and as the New Yorker headline stated: “Ben Carson Shattering Stereotype About Brain Surgeons Being Smart.”
The debate offered viewers insight into some of the many issues that divide the Republican party. Candidates sparred over foreign policy as well as their dissatisfaction with current and past domestic leadership, and some deep divides between the extreme right and the more central factions of the Republican party were revealed throughout the debate.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich criticized Cruz for his previous comments on the Iran Nuclear Deal and disagreed with Cruz that shutting down the government over the federal funding received by Planned Parenthood is a viable strategy. Former Gov. of Arkansas Mike Huckabee called the arrest of Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue a same-sex marriage license because of her religion, the “criminalization of her faith,” while Jeb Bush, former Gov. of Florida, had disagreed, previously saying that Davis was sworn to uphold the law. However, Bush backtracked those comments in his statements at the debate.
The debate took a personal turn when the topic of immigration came up. Bush demanded that Donald Trump apologize for suggesting that Bush’s views on immigration were shaped by his marriage to his Mexican-born wife. Trump responded with a “surprising” “No, I won’t do that, I’ve said nothing wrong.” The two did not stop there. They continued to argue over the popular Republican topic of women’s health. Debate moderator, Jake Tapper brought up a comment Bush had previously made in regard to women’s health. Bush had stated he’s “not sure we need half a billion for women’s health issues.” Tapper’s reiteration of what Bush said prompted Trump to say one of his most ironic lines of the night, “I will take care of women, I respect women.”
Toward the end of the debate, the questions became easier and geared less towards Trump, previously made comments by Trump, or just reactions by Trump. However, Some candidates looked as if they had been running a marathon, like Sen. Marco Rubio, who was wiping sweat from his forehead and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose face was sweating like Richard Nixon when he faced off against John. F Kennedy, but without Kennedy and with more sweat. Walker, obviously too worn out from the debate to continue, has since dropped out of the race.
One of the last questions of the night was from Tapper who asked which woman each candidate would put on the $10 bill. Answers ranged from Rosa Parks to the candidate’s mothers and wives to the most creative answer from Bush who named a non-American, Margaret Thatcher, as his choice.
According to polls on Oct. 7, Trump is still in the lead at 22.8 percent, followed by Carson at 17.3 percent and Fiorina at 11 percent. However, as of Oct. 12, Trump had risen to 28.5 percent, with Carson at 19.6 percent. Fiorina has dropped down to sixth place and is garnering 6.3 percent of the support.
This election season has seen around the clock media coverage like no other and it is fitting that Trump, a previous reality-show star, has become the main focus of an otherwise dull process. It seems to be that the only difference between this Republican fight for the nomination and Trump’s popular reality TV show is that in one, Trump is firing people and running his own company for an audience of millions, and in the other Trump is firing at candidates and could possibly be running the entire country by January of 2017.
Parita Desai is a freshman journalism major. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.