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Trump’s Debate Problem

Thursday night’s debate presents a problem for Donald Trump. And future debates may compound the difficulty.

It’s not that he didn’t do well. He did fine. He was the same Trump whose fireworks, tough talk and connection to the concerns of the GOP base have rocketed him to the top of the polls.

It’s not even that he didn’t get more attention than the others. He did, by at least a little bit.

Trump’s problem was that, instead of completely dominating press coverage — as he does when all the candidates are dispersed to the hinterland trying to make their case to small groups over boiled chicken yum yum lunches — the current poll leader was forced to share the stage, literally, with nine other Republican candidates who seem completely credible.

Trump was standing next to people who, just like him, have real achievement in their background. They are eloquently and forcefully able to make a case for themselves.
That diminishes him, even if he doesn’t diminish himself.

Unlike in 2012, when Mitt Romney was able to look over at his rivals with that, “Oh, aren’t you a cute little bunny rabbit” look on his face, Trump is standing next to people who, just like him, have real achievement in their background. They are eloquently and forcefully able to make a case for themselves.

“God has blessed us,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. “He’s blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one.”

Indeed. And that, in the end, could be Trump’s undoing.

Several of the candidates on stage were able to tout strong records in the states they govern. Scott Walker faced down the unions in Wisconsin. John Kasich helped turn Ohio’s economic fortunes around. New Jersey’s Chris Christie, whose state still has problems, claimed he has at least made things better than they were. And he can talk as tough as Trump.

In the Senate, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have both led battles on behalf of the base against the entrenched GOP leadership. Dr. Ben Carson is a world renowned surgeon who sounded on the stage like he’d be utterly prepared to don some presidential scrubs and start operating on the patient — namely, the United States under President Barack Obama.

“I would shore up our military first, because without our military, nothing else is going to work,” said Carson.

Each candidate had moments of eloquence, first-rate pre-packaged one liners, and the ability to pivot off uncomfortable questions to things they wanted to talk about, such as touting their records and talking about what they’ll do for the country.

Several engaged in debates that demonstrated a sharp ability to think on their feet, the best example perhaps being this exchange between Christie and Paul about government surveillance.

“I want to collect more records from terrorists, but less records from Americans,” Paul said.

“That’s a completely ridiculous answer,” Christie retorted. “When you’re sitting in a subcommittee just blowing hot air about this, you can say things like that. When you’re responsible for protecting the lives of the American people, then what you need to do is to make sure you use the system the way it’s supposed to work.”

“You fundamentally misunderstand the Bill of Rights,” Paul replied, irked. “Every time you did a case, you got a warrant from a judge . . . I don’t trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug, and if you want to give him a big hug again, you go right ahead,” Paul quipped to a roar from the crown.

“Sen. Paul, you know the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the people who lost their people on Sept. 11, and those had nothing to do with politics,” said Christie.
Christie slugged right back.

“Sen. Paul, you know the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the people who lost their people on Sept. 11, and those had nothing to do with politics — unlike what you’re doing by cutting speeches on the floor of the Senate and then putting them on the Internet within a half an hour to raise money for your campaign.”

With heavyweights like these muscling in on Trump’s coverage, the polls may start to shift.

Most of the Washington political “experts” are waiting for Trump to implode. But many such prognosticators lean to the left, so they fail to see two things: That Trump’s appeal to the GOP base in genuine because he is expressing their desperation for serious change, but also that the Republican field has some quality candidates who can keep pace when they get to be in the same room with the frontrunner.

This piece first appeared in LifeZette.

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38 Responses to Trump’s Debate Problem

  1. Well looks like the Keith is on the MSM band wagon of get The Donald. The main streamers are not use to some one who does not play the PC game and they do not like it.
    Whether the people like The Donald or not the rulers of this country are determined to control the race to have what they want. That is:

    Jeb vs Hildabeast.

    We are just pawns to be preached to and propagandized until we do what they want.

        • I just read that as well. I think she should have stated Megyn is a strong successful woman. End of subject.
          As AFVet said she will have to answer questions on that remark. As well I do not think she should put herself into the “woman attack” conversation.

    • I don’t know. That was an even-handed evaluation, and I say that as someone who’s pulling for Trump.

      If I’ve said it before, it bears repeating: the man has made, and lost, and made again, more money than most human beings will ever touch in an entire lifetime. So he probably knows a thing or two about what the private sector needs right about now.

      What worries me is that this may end up as a foreign policy election. Why? Well, an October surprise from America’s enemies could be quite the tailwind for a candidate who signals our enemies that they would continue to let America be a milquetoast on the international stage.

      Benghazi was two months before Obama won re-election, and history has common refrains.

      Which brings me back to Mr. Trump. He has quite a head for overseas real estate markets, and one does not get that by complete ignorance of foreign affairs.

      But could he be seen as a wartime president, if the United States is attacked at the eleventh hour of the 2016 election cycle?

      At the moment, clearly, the answer is no, and that worries me. There’s certainly time for Mr. Trump to learn the lay of the land, but he needs to get on that well before the first snow in Des Moines.

      Keith’s analysis is fair, as is his usual. I like Mr. Trump–he fights–but then, as we just saw, so does Governor Christie. So, we’ll see.

      • Great point. I have not chosen who I will vote for.
        However look who we have in office. O can stand there and calmly, say Kiss my tale, and everyone goes along with him.

        • The problem with Obama is that it’s too “impolite” to point out that the emperor has no clothes–if not that the emperor is nothing BUT clothes (i.e., an empty suit.)

          I’m familiar with someone who, back in 2008, said that Obama reminded them of William Jennings Bryan a century too late. “Show some respect,” they were told.

          To tweak an old proverb, he who laughs last, laughs best…assuming, of course, that he got the joke to begin with.

          Anyway, Obama’s palace guard will have to go out and look for honest work come 2017. We’ll see for ourselves how awful his presidency has been.

  2. If you wrestle with the pig, you’ll both get dirty and the pig will love it.

    Trump is a pig and has turned what should be a serious debate about serious issues into a WFW (World Federation Wrestling) match. If he’s so concerned, let him throw hand grenades from Trump Towers.

    Yes, yes, I know Political Business thanks to the likes of Obama turned it into Show Biz, but there’s no reason to turn it over to Barnum & Bailey & Trump. I don’t think he’s serious about much, unless it’s about him.

  3. I am less appalled by Trump than by the Republican reaction to him. First this brouhaha at the Debates and now Red State has uninvited him to its Convention for a comment he made. And then they invited Megyn Kelly in his place.

    So childish. WE have PP killing and ripping apart babies, terrorist and Iran at our gates, a failed economy, an Executive that has trampled the constitution and the balance of powers. And we have this reaction to Donald Trump. If we can’t fight the way through a public forum against the likes of Donald Trump we will surely not be able to do all the rest that is set before us to right this country.

  4. The truth is I would vote for just about any one of those guys. Cruz is probably the most intelligent.

    I’m most iffy on Walker, Carson and Paul.

    Carson is just wayyyy too much of an unknown. Walker has nutty abortion views and Paul might be insane, has no tact and is too arrogant.

  5. MrTrump’s “debate problem” was that the head honchos at FOX were out to ruin him, to get the audience to dislike him, and pin him to statements he may or may not have been responsible for.
    The governors running for the Presidency didn’t “do” anything other than sign bills passed by their legislature. The accomplishment was winning the seat of power and that was done with other people’s money, other people’s hard work and to take credit for the good things as their own doing is false.
    The Senators, sitting in a Repub majority, haven’t been able to persuade anyone to change anything for the better. They talk a good talk, but nothing changes but the page on the calendar.

    Americans like a fair fight. The FOX debate was NOT fair, it was a setup that delighted the Dems and liberal Press, and proved that the establishment politics goes deeper than we imagined. Dis-inviting MrTrump to a conservative affair, then inviting a multi-millionaire TV personality to speak in his place is offensive, and an insult to all of us.

  6. To me, Trump needed new material–and I don’t mean his grimy tweetbait later–politicians are stupid, Mexican leaders are brilliant, he is great with masonry, women should not step out of line or Katy bar the door, whoever Katy was…All heard before.

    • I think it was designed as a get to know the candidates night.

      I am more interested in how they would fix the myriad of problems facing this Country.

      And don’t want the ‘we need to do this’ BS.
      What would YOU do and how would YOU do it.

    • LOL.. yes, for sure. But to whom would she then run to when she thought someone had hurt her feelings? Maybe to Roger Ailes (again)? “Oh, the big, bad man said a naughty word to me! Help me! Help me!”