September 21, 2015
by Johann Galloway
Carly Fiorina shot past Ben Carson to second place after the Republican presidential primary debates on Wednesday, according to the CNN/ORC poll released Saturday. She resonated with hardline Republicans when she reiterated her call to shut down the government over federal funding for Planned Parenthood and attacked the decriminalization of pot.
The “debate,” which often resembled a bad reality show, was riddled with ad hominem attacks and demagogy. At the outset, Trump was asked by moderator Jake Tapper about his character, and he responded with his signature use of misdirection and bravado by saying, “First of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage,” citing Paul’s poll numbers.
Paul responded by calling out Trump’s “careless language” and sophomoric attacks instead of focusing on substance. Trump proved him right and said, “I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”
Another particularly painful thing to watch was when Fiorina and Trump went head to head on who had been the worst CEO. Not soon enough, Chris Christie interjected: “While I’m as entertained as anyone by this personal back-and-forth about the history of Donald and Carly’s career, the 55-year-old construction worker out in that audience tonight who doesn’t have a job… they could care less about their careers. They care about theirs.”
Trump’s numbers fell 8 points but still maintains a solid 10 point first place lead. Marco Rubio jumped to fourth place with 11% support, up from 3% before the debate.
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For Bernie Sanders supporters, the second Republican debate was salt in the wound. And not because of anything the GOP candidates did or said, but because it was a reminder of the vulgar display of establishment politics by the Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz in keeping Bernie’s voice silenced on a national debate stage. In spite of harsh criticism, even from her own camp, Wasserman Schultz said last week, “We’re having six debates—period. We’re having six debates and the candidates will be uninvited from any subsequent debates if they accept an invitation to a debate outside the six DNC-sanctioned debates.”
Wasserman Schultz limited Democratic debates to four before mid-March, while the Republicans have ten. Of those debates, the GOP have six scheduled in the ten weeks closest to voting, while Dems have just one. This ploy to protect Hillary has created a rift among party leaders.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak made a joint statement on Facebook, “As vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee, we are calling for several more debates than the six currently scheduled, and withdrawing the proposed sanctions against candidates who choose to participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates.”
And Vice chairwoman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Deb Kozikowski posted on Facebook that Wasserman Schult had been “too busy establishing a full-fledged dictatorship at the DNC to recognize she’d gone over the top.”
At the New Hampshire Democratic Party convention in Manchester on Saturday, Wasserman Shultz was greeted with boos and chants of “more debates” as she took the stage. She had to raise her voice during opening remarks and break from her speech at one point to shout back at hecklers. Many attendees donned Bernie shirts; the revolution against establishment politics is in full swing in the state where the crucial first primary election will be held.
The reason pro-Hillary politicians favor limiting debates will be crystal clear on Oct. 13, when the first Democratic presidential primary debates will take place in Las Vegas and broadcast live on CNN. Hillary will have to face Bernie Sanders, a tough as nails, unflinching true believer who’s been preaching the same unadulterated gospel for decades. And he will finally be heard by many of the “Bernie who?” voters.
CNN’s Republican primary debate Wednesday had 22.9 million viewers, a new record for the network, and another sign that this election cycle is like none other before.
Hillary leads Bernie in national polls by 20 points; however, the same polls indicate that 38% of voters don’t know enough about Bernie to give him a favorable rating. In Iowa and New Hampshire, where unfamiliarity with Bernie is under 15%, Bernie leads Hillary, respectively, by 10 and 22 points.
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Bernie Sanders spoke at ultra-conservative Liberty University–the world’s largest Christian college–on Monday. He received an enthusiastic welcome; some of the evangelical students even sported Bernie tees. The independent senator has repeatedly stated his message will resonate with Americans across the board, even eroding political and religious borders. And this isn’t just rhetoric or wishful thinking. He won his last election with 71% of the votes, a feat impossible without cutting across party lines.
Though Sanders centered his speech on common ground that he might have with conservative Christians such as income inequality, he made no bones about staunchly defending abortion rights to a capacity crowd of nearly 12,000.
Caleb Taylor, a senior majoring in youth ministry, said, “I don’t agree with him on abortion. A fetus inside the womb has a voice. But I do agree that it’s immoral that we have tax cuts for the 1 percent. The middle class is shrinking, non-existent. And it’s self-centered and arrogant to only focus on abortion and gay rights.”
“I am not a theologian, I am not an expert on the bible, nor am I a Catholic,” Sanders said near the end of his speech. “I am just a United States senator from the small state of Vermont…”
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