The GOP Debate. It came, we watched, it blew our minds! Donald Trump is like teflon...nothing sticks to that guy. Marco Rubio was a surprise standout. Jeb Bush looked pretty old. Scott Walker was boring.
Ohio Governor John Kasich did his state proud last night, by actual answering the questions posed to him and by addressing his responses with succinct rubber-meets-the-road proposals. Setting aside whether or not the content of his replies had merit, compared to the bloviating, pontificating and occasional whining indulged in by the other candidates, Kasich emerged as a centrist with appeal across the political divide.
Now that was a debate. Back in 2012 it was the live audience that got rowdy at the presidential primary debates. This time it was the folks onstage, candidates and moderators alike. And somehow it all stemmed from the presence of Donald Trump, the spiritual epicenter of this event, whose outsize persona dominated the proceedings from beginning to end. Things got off to a rollicking start with Trump's show-of-hands refusal to rule out a third-party run and Rand Paul's aggressive reaction. This riveting kickoff set a pugilistic tone for the debate that never subsided.
Racism, child labor, poverty, gender inequality and homophobia are not phenomena of the 21st century. They are our history. Over the past 5 or 6 decades the doors to these parts of our reality were kicked open and folks like those in Monday's focus group and forum audience don't want to look.
It seems to me there are four basic strategies the other nine Republicans on the stage have to choose from: ignore Trump, outdo Trump, attack Trump or agree with Trump.
When political wonks are prostrating themselves before Sheldon Adelson for a shot at his billions, you can't really expect us to care what politicians may or may not say in a public debate. Instead, let's set candidates in a series of one-on-one debates and run it NCAA March Madness style.
While there's still time in your FOX fantasy debate draft, here are some plays from The Standard Table of Influence to consider for Thursday night's clamber in Cleveland. And, pssst, watch for Chris Christie to trump The Donald.
A Washington Post report reveals that Kasich slashed public school funding by half a billion dollars, boosting state spending on charter schools, despite the quality concerns. In fact, the Ohio now spends more per charter school pupil than it does for public school student, while costs have been passed on to local government just to keep their schools open.
Elbowing for the bottom rung has been fierce, but there's plenty of material on those we know will be on the podium. Whether you tune in to the Republican debate or not, know this: No matter who wins, women lose.
Let's face it. The Republicans will have quite a time trying to sift through their thicket of candidates. So many angles and issues and characters to consider. Do I like the clean-cut union-busting Wisconsin governor or the clean-cut anti-choice former Senator from Pennsylvania?
A bevy of Republican candidates get shut out of national primetime by Fox, but not Trump.
Shrum and Christie discuss whether John Kasich got overshadowed this week and if the GOP has "crazies" in the base (McCain's word) or simply has "a crazy base." Also: Senate Republicans go off on Kerry over Iran -- was he "fleeced" or do they believe in "unicorns?"
It's never too early to bone up on the 2016 presidential campaign, so take our latest Week to Week news quiz to see how much you know about the lineup...
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If Kasich makes it onto the ticket, the election will take place two weeks shy of the 10th anniversary of his guest host interview on "The O'Reilly Factor" in which he did the bidding of an ex U.S. Attorney I criticized in my HarperCollins investigative book "Triple Cross."
Nearly all of the 50 states have been busy wrapping up their operating budgets. But in the process, far too many had to twist, turn and pull themselves out of shortfalls with budgeting gimmicks.