The Republican Debate (Number Three): The Highlights / by Kenneth Buff

Tonight we saw 10 republican candidates duke it out on CNBC, fighting for attention in an effort to raise those mythical poll numbers. It was a bit curious to see the faces with the most screen time were the ones polling below 10%. Carson and Trump faded into the background for much of the debate, mostly just popping up when asked a direct question (rather than jumping in randomly like Bush or Christy). If there was a star tonight, it was definitely Rubio. The robotic android—who sounds like he has a TelePrompTer behind each eyelid—got a lot of love from the audience, cheering when he said that Hilary Clinton's number one superpac is the media and again when he said the media hate's republicans. Bush tried attacking him for not showing up to his job enough, but it seemed to backfire with Rubio's rebuttal.

Bush came off rattled. He still seems to not be able to shake off Trump's criticism's that have obviously affected him. There was the comment at the second republican debate about his secret president name being "Ever ready" because, as Bush said smiling, "It's high energy, Donald." And then there was this quote he said recently at a campaign event, sounding rather whiney (something you don't want to sound like when you're running for president):

"I got a lot of really cool things I could do other than sit around and be miserable, listening to people demonize me and feeling compelled to demonize me. That is a joke. Elect Trump if you want that." — Jeb Bush at a campaign event in South Carolina

And since then Bush has come off awkward, trying different tactics to connect with the electorate. Telling us he works out, and that he thinks the actress that plays Supergirl on CBS is "Pretty hot." During the debate he told us that his fantasy football team is 7 & 0. It played all right with the audience until Huckabee jumped on the moderators for not having the candidates stick to the issues (attacking the moderators throughout the night was a common theme, it was warranted at times, but over all it felt like a stunt to try to recreate the Bernie Sanders "damn emails" line. It was the most talked about "zinger" from the democratic debate, and it felt like many of the second tier GOP candidates were trying to mimic that strategy of being the guy who wants to "stick to the issues." Chris Christie also tried it, it seemed to work for him pretty well until he faded once again back into the background.) Bush never really recovered from that blow. He looked like a wounded animal for the rest of the debate, trying not to show just how nervous he really was.

The themes were pretty much what would you expect. Big government is bad, we need tax cuts, Barack Obama is bad, guns are good, the media hates republicans (that one, delivered by Rubio, played really well to the crowd), Hillary Clinton is bad, and the moderators don't like us. I was really surprised with how far the candidates went with discussing their distaste for the government. So many of them kept saying "government is the problem" we need "government to stay out." It really made me wonder, if these guys think government isn't the solution to the nations problems, than why are they running to oversee it? Are they implying they want a "political revolution," where they over throw the government (something that's completely implausible, but it works wonders with the right crowd), or are they simply working the crowd? I hope it's the second one (which I think it is for all of them, except maybe Ben Carson), because otherwise they have no business running for the highest level of civic service in our country. If you don't believe in the system, why should I hire you to run it? We don't hire teachers who don't believe in education. Why should we hire presidents who don't believe in government?

Trump got in a few "zingers" here and there, telling a moderator who asked Trump where they got information that Trump said was wrong, "I don't know, you people are the ones who write this." As well as throwing in his now classic line, "We don't win."

Carson jumped on the anti-government bandwagon, saying it should stay out of everything, that it has no business enforcing a minimum wage. He also stated he's against gay marriage, but believes we can treat gays fairly despite this, what his definition of fairly is he did not state.

Overall it was a series of desperate attempts by the 2nd tier candidates to make some noise by inserting as many of their rehearsed talking points in as possible, and being sure to attack the moderators when they felt they were getting in the way of that goal. On the reverse side the moderators didn't seem that interested in pulling meaningful answers out of the candidates, they pretty much let them answer however they wanted, which often led to them drifting into some unrelated talking points. Not much new information was gained from the candidates who are most likely to get the nomination (Trump, Carson, and Rubio). The only meaningful thing that might come out of the debate would be a possible slight bump in the polls for Rubio, but other than that it was pretty much a meaningless wash, much like the previous debates in this election.