Debates Articles

Trump Triumphant

A strong night for the governors, but a good night for the frontrunner.
11:18 PM, Feb 06, 2016

The big media story from the debate will be Marco Rubio’s confrontation with Chris Christie. But the larger picture might be about how well Donald Trump did.

Trump was relatively reserved. He wasn't bombastic. Or erratic. He was—by Trumpian standards—presidential? Okay, let's not get crazy. Trump wasn't able to stay in check for the full three hours—he couldn't help himself from lashing out at Cruz in his closing statement. And where candidates often lash out at the media when they get in trouble in a debate, Trump attacked the audience. The move was classic pro-wrestling—like Vince McMahon baiting the crowd. And it was so crazy that it kind of worked.

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Christie Takes it to Rubio: 'There It Is. The Memorized 25-Second Speech.'

9:15 PM, Feb 06, 2016

New Jersey governor Chris Christie went after Florida senator Marco Rubio in Saturday's Republican debate:

Transcript via the Christie campaign:

DAVID MUIR: I do want to ask Governor Christie, you said, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. You heard Senator Rubio make the case that he has the experience. Your response?

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Sure. First, let's remember something. Every morning when a United States Senator wakes up, they think about what kind of speech can I give, or what kind of bill can I drop? Every morning, when I wake up, I think about, what kind of problem do I need to solve for the people who actually elected me? It's a different experience. It's a much different experience.

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Ben Carson Takes Forever To Come To GOP Debate Stage, Kasich Forgotten

8:27 PM, Feb 06, 2016

At the beginning of Saturday night's Republican presidential debate, the moderators called Ben Carson's name, but for some reason he didn't come out onto the GOP debate stage. He stayed back for a few minutes, and eventually came out. Then the moderators seemed to forget about John Kasich.

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Trump: I'll Debate With Megyn Kelly as Moderator

Speculation put to rest.
4:52 PM, Feb 05, 2016
Donald Trump said Friday that he will participate in the next FOX News-sponsored debate, scheduled for March 3. Read more

Loser of the Debate: Trump

11:51 PM, Jan 28, 2016
Editor Bill Kristol on tonight's Fox News GOP debate. Read more

Cruz Flails at Trumpless Debate

Missed opportunities for everyone.
11:43 PM, Jan 28, 2016

With Donald Trump skipping the debate to consort with Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum (because he cares so very much about veterans), Ted Cruz had a golden opportunity to make a strong closing pitch to Iowa voters. He missed it.

Cruz started out strong, with a clever line about Trump’s patois. But after that he failed to hammer home the difference between himself and Trump. Instead, he was dragged into debates about foreign policy and budget bills and immigration poison pills. Maybe Iowa voters will absorb the contrast—that Cruz has a grasp of policy and Trump doesn't implicitly. But maybe not.

As a tactical matter, it wasn't a bad performance from Cruz. He held his own against the other six candidates on

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A Donaldless Debate?

Podcast: Will Trump show up tomorrow?
3:28 PM, Jan 27, 2016
The WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with Associate Editor Ethan Epstein and Deputy Online Editor Jim Swift on whether Donald will show up at tomorrow's Fox News Debate in Iowa. Read more

Cruz Finally Takes on Trump

Hosted by Michael Graham.
12:13 AM, Jan 15, 2016
The WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with senior writer John McCormack on last night's Fox Business debate, where Ted Cruz finally confronted Donald Trump. Read more

Low-Energy Trump and Rubio Triumphant

Closing in on a final three in South Carolina.
11:41 PM, Jan 14, 2016

The Charleston debate may have been more consequential than it looked at first glance. For starters, neither Jeb Bush nor John Kasich nor Ben Carson registered. (Except for Bush’s bizarre decision to make his most impassioned argument of the campaign in service of the rights of Muslim citizens from foreign countries. This was political malpractice.) The night further underscored the extent to which the race has really drilled down to four plausible candidates, who are competing in two very different races.

In the Christie vs. Rubio war, you saw a gotcha fight over Christie's past transgressions on conservative policy orthodoxy.

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It's Over for Jeb, Kasich, and Carson

10:17 PM, Jan 14, 2016
Their playoff dreams are done. Read more

Hillary: Trump Is 'ISIS's Best Recruiter'

9:13 PM, Dec 19, 2015

The top Democrat running for president accused her Republican counterpart of being "ISIS's best recruiter." Hillary Clinton made the charge against Donald Trump in tonight's Democratic primary debate in New Hampshire:

Donald Trump "is becoming ISIS's best recruiter," Clinton said. "They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."

It's unclear whether there is actually proof of Clinton's claim that ISIS is using Trump "to recruit more radical jiahdists.

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Reporters Put on Ice Rink at Democrat Debate

2:35 PM, Dec 19, 2015

Reporters are being put on the ice (rink) for tonight's Democratic party primary debate in New Hampshire.

Evan McMorris-Santoro tweeted a picture of the set-up for tonight:

Press file/spin room/hockey rink. Expect the hear abt cands bodychecking each other tonight— E McMorris-Santoro (@EvanMcSan) December 19, 2015

Turns out, reporters are being handed hand- and toe-warmers:

Debate swag update pic.twitter.

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Kristol: Donald Trump is an Ignoramus

Hosted by Michael Graham.
10:49 AM, Dec 18, 2015
The WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with editor William Kristol on Trump shouting his love of Vladimir Putin, and why the Democrats are hiding their debates with a consciously poor debate strategy. Read more

The Triumph of the Outsiders

Trump and Rubio and Cruz; oh my.
Dec 28, 2015

With just over a month until the Iowa caucuses, the Republican nomination field is taking clearer form. Of the original 17 candidates, only 4 can be said to remain in top contention: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson.

What to make of these candidates, and what does their preeminence tell us about the Republican party as it heads into the presidential election year?

Of the top four, only Carson is following a well-worn path. While his personal story is unique, his appeal is traditional. The early date of the Iowa caucuses has long meant that candidates with a strong connection to evangelical Christians endeavor to use Iowa as a springboard to the nomination.

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Luntz: Chris Christie Breaks Out

8:12 AM, Dec 16, 2015

The Frank Luntz focus group, broadcast in part last night on Fox News, found that Chris Christie may have had a breakout night in Las Vegas:

"He's saying exactly what we're thinking," said one watcher to Luntz.

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Kristol: Special Post-Debate Podcast

Hosted by Michael Graham.
11:57 PM, Dec 15, 2015
The WEEKLY STANDARD Podcast with editor William Kristol on tonight's CNN GOP Presidential Debate Read more

It's a Much Smaller GOP Race than Debate Stage Suggests

12:31 PM, Dec 15, 2015

Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas is the final GOP primary debate of 2015. With about a month and a half before the first primary contest—the Iowa caucuses on February 1—it's become clear the field of plausible contenders is much smaller than the 13 Republicans who will debate in two separate events Tuesday night. It's possible December 15 will be the last time Republican voters see most of the whole band together before the forthcoming breakup. So which candidates should be cut loose after tonight?

Let's begin with the first event, the "undercard" debate: future debate organizers should make a New Year's resolution to scrap it in the months ahead. The undercard debates have had some

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Tough Questions

CNBC’s missed opportunity.
Nov 16, 2015

CNBC defends its performance at the last Republican debate by saying that candidates should be able to answer tough questions. Indeed they should. So, using the format of the CNBC questions to Republicans, here are some tough questions to ask Democrats at the next debate:

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Bernie's Bad Night

And Hillary's, too.
1:12 PM, Nov 15, 2015

It wasn’t much of a debate.  This might have been because of the scheduling.  Everybody ought to have something better to do on Saturday night than argue over the correct level of the minimum wage.  Also, the atrocity in Paris hung over the proceedings, making the words of the candidates seem even more calculated and inauthentic than usual.

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Debates Playing Key Role in Winnowing Republican Field

Replacing importance of primaries.
7:05 AM, Nov 12, 2015

The process of winnowing the Republican presidential field to a few candidates is beginning to take its toll, though the first actual voting won’t occur until February.

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5 Weird Moments at the Fox Business Debate

4:45 PM, Nov 11, 2015

There were a few weird moments at the debate last night, but none was stranger than the crowd reaction when John Kasich and Jeb Bush were talking about immigration. Both were unapologetically pro-amnesty. Neither bothered to make concessions about how problematic the breakdown of the rule of law is when it comes to illegal immigration. Bush didn't even make a kabuki gesture toward securing the border.

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Trump: I Stuck Up for Jeb When He Couldn't Talk

9:25 AM, Nov 11, 2015

Donald Trump says he helped out his Republican rival Jeb Bush at Tuesday night's debate in Milwaukee. In an interview with Morning Joe Wednesday, host Joe Scarborough asked the reality TV star how he could unify the GOP after saying harsh things about Bush and other Republicans.

"Did I stick up for Jeb last night? He couldn't talk. They wouldn't let him talk, I said, 'Let Jeb talk,'" Trump said.

"He really appreciated that," Scarborough replied sarcastically.

"Was that nice thing?" Trump replied. Watch the video below:

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Carly Shows Strength

11:49 PM, Nov 10, 2015

During tonight's Republican presidential debate, Carly Fiorina went on an extended foreign policy riff:

"You know, Mr. Trump fancies himself a very good negotiator. And I accept that he's done a lot of good deals, so Mr. Trump ought to know that we should not speak to people from a position of weakness. Senator Paul should know that as well. One of the reasons I've said I would not be talking to Vladimir Putin right now—although I have met him as well, not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.

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Winners & Losers

11:35 PM, Nov 10, 2015

It’s a rare debate where no one comes out feeling like they won. Some thoughts on how the field performed:

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Rubio: 'We Need More Welders and Less Philosophers'

'For the life of me I don't know why we stigmatize vocational education.'
10:09 PM, Nov 10, 2015

During Tuesday night's Republican presidential debate, Marco Rubio articulated his disagreements with increasing the minimum wage, and explained his alternative ideas. 

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Christie Delivers Solid Hits on Hillary at Undercard Debate

9:06 PM, Nov 10, 2015

If you were just listening to Chris Christie’s answers Tuesday night, you might have thought he was debating Hillary Clinton. The Republican governor of New Jersey used his demotion to the undercard debate in Milwaukee to focus not on the other three low-polling Republicans on stage but instead on the likely Democratic nominee.

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Christie Excels, Jindal Goes Rabid

Four is enough
8:51 PM, Nov 10, 2015

Going in, Chris Christie was the guy to watch at the undercard debate. He’s moving in New Hampshire, he handled his relegation with grit, and people are finally starting to see what a talent he is.

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Fox Business: Rubio Camp Thinks 'They're Going to TKO Jeb Tonight'

7:25 PM, Nov 10, 2015

The Marco Rubio campaign is predicting the Florida senator will deliver a knockout punch to former Florida governor Jeb Bush in Tuesday night's debate, according to one reporter at the Fox Business Network. Charles Gasparino said he's hearing confidence from the Rubio camp.

"I can tell you, his people are telling me, they think they're going to TKO Jeb tonight as the establishment candidate," Gasparino said. "They're going to take him out, he's not going to recover from that."

Watch the video below:

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Gerry Baker and the Anti-CNBC Debate

A historical first?
3:04 PM, Nov 10, 2015

Tonight’s debates on Fox Business should be notable for a number of reasons:

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Jeb Donor: 'Stay Classy' and Don't Go After Marco

12:49 PM, Nov 10, 2015

The super PAC supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush for president told the New York Times that it plans on using its resources to hit Florida senator Marco Rubio over his pro-life record as well as missed votes in the Senate.

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