As the GOP's presidential hopefuls steer their way into the second debate, their challenge in many ways will be the same one they faced before: what to do about the interloper in their midst. Back in August, Roger Ailes attempted to come to the rescue of his beloved Republican contenders, only to watch his appointed moderators fail at Trump-slaying duty. Now, with CNN set to host, Trump's rivals are largely on their own.
Which may not be a bad thing. Over the last few weeks, as each Republican hopeful has attempted to regain his or her footing, we've seen almost as many distinct anti-Trump tactics deployed as there are candidates. Some are trying to stay above the fray. Some are lacing up the gloves, hoping that a clever clap back will send the teevee blowhard cowering. A few are just ignoring Trump completely, hoping he'll go away.
What's the best way to deal with the skunk at the garden party? Cruelty? Cleverness? Maybe it's kindness! We're going to try to figure it out on this week's First To Last.
With political neophytes collecting half of the support from Republican Party primary voters and anti-Washington sentiments as palpable as a punch, one might think U.S. senators running for president would be walking in and out of the Capitol incognito.
Thank God Labor Day has come and gone. After such a sleepy summer, maybe we'll finally have some political news to cover in this boring, routine presidential race.
The two sentences above are examples of what we ultra-professional writers call "facetious humor."
In truth, the first furlong of the race has been INSANE. As in: SECRET GEFILTE FISH EMAIL! FEEL THE "BERN!" HE'S BIDEN HIS TIME. AN APOCALYPTIC NEUROSURGEON. A CEO WHO NEARLY SANK BOTH HEWLETT AND PACKARD. AND OF COURSE: DONALD TRUMP! DONALD TRUMP! DONALD TRUMP, TRUMP, TRUMP!
Now we enter an inescapable garden maze of televised debates, starting with CNN's Republican one on Wednesday of next week at the Reagan Library in California. They'll have a panel of media inquisitors. But why wait? And why them? HuffPost First to Last has its own questions for each of the top 10 candidates.
(If you have more, dear readers, serious or not quite, email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll run some of them in a separate piece. Gefilte fish news also welcome.)
Here's a start:
By now, if you're one of the people who decided to embark on the strange and wonderful journey of becoming president, you've probably experienced a lot of personal highs. You've traveled to far-flung parts of the country and met some great people. You've gotten your mug on television and have been chased down by reporters. You've met some of our weirdest billionaires, eaten some state fair food and participated in a candidate debate. What an experience this has been!
Well, hope you took some 'Grams because it's time to get out while the getting's good.
What? You don't understand what we're talking about? Look, we're going to let you in on a little secret. "President of the United States" is a terrible and thankless job that doesn't pay well and subjects you to relentless criticism. The power's not all it's cracked up to be and the perks get old. Plus, any time something goes wrong in the world, you're the first person everyone calls.
This job sucks, and if you're smart, you'll let someone else do it. Besides, every single one of you has a good reason to quit the race. Maybe you're not aware of it, but trust us, we've seen it. And on this week's First To Last, we'll tell each of you the reason it's time for you to make your Irish goodbye.
It’s late August 2015. There are already more than 20 people running for president. Only about five of those have a realistic chance of actually winning, and we should not be encouraging anybody else to participate in the race. But here we are, just a group of Internet wags, standing in front of Joe Biden, asking him to love the idea of running for president.
Because let’s face it, why not. Why else would anyone agree to be vice president, if not to seek that brass ring ... that easy ascension. Why not give it a shot -- all you need is one or two billionaire donors to give you some lift.
You've already consulted with Elizabeth Warren, who isn’t running, and guys like Martin O’Malley aren’t winning. Are you really going to let Al Gore snake some attention? Are you actually going to sit back and watch Lincoln Chafee run as a Democrat? Have you not already thought about how great it would be to launch your latest bid for the White House at a barbecue-slash-summit with #BlackLivesMatter activists?
Here at First To Last, we aren’t counting you, Joe Biden, out.
Jeb Bush is in terrible shape. He’s not leading many polls, though that’s fine this early on.
Two leading Republican presidential candidates, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio, recently released concept papers that promise to provide “all Americans” with government-subsidized access to health insurance. This is a monumental development for both the campaign and for the conservative movement, one that breathes Ronald Reagan’s soul into the Republican nomination fight.
Things are getting weird when even Al Gore is thinking of getting into the Democratic presidential race, which is turning into a last hurrah for the Baby Boomers and their tad-older camp counselors.
Hillary Clinton, permanently punctilious, has done everything right: She put her HQ in Brooklyn, hired savvy digital/social/big data nerds, raised a ton of dough, gave substantive, well-thought-out speeches and flooded early primary and caucus states with organizers. She's still the default bet for the Democratic nomination: national polls show her with a fat 36 percent lead.
And yet all is not well in Hillaryland. Polls also indicate that voters now view her as untrustworthy. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), whose DeLorean time machine is in overdrive, is drawing colossal crowds and, according to one poll, now leads the former secretary of state in New Hampshire. Vice President Joe Biden, who had previously said “no way,” is now sounding serious about jumping in. So, we are told, is Gore, who was warning of environmental doom as far back as the ‘60s.
What’s happening to Hillary? Here are our explanations, ranked on our First to Last Political Richter Scale:
Check out the five clips that sum up the absurdity of the GOP primary debate, and prepare yourselves for the next 458 days of presidential election shenanigans.
The Crowd's Favorite Statements Of The Night
No matter how ridiculous.
Every Republican Candidate Tries To Out-Hardscrabble Each Other
Drake would have been proud.
Megyn Kelly Takes Down The Donald
We can all agree: Megyn Kelly was the true winner of last night's debate.
Chris Christie And Rand Paul Throw Down
That eye roll vs. the ghost of Giuliani.
And Donald Trump Attempts To Prove He's A Republican
Spoiler alert: It didn't go very well.
Bonus Video: The Moderators Roast The Candidates At Kids Table Debate
A lot of pressure comes with moderating a presidential debate. People are often just as focused on the questions being asked as they are on the candidates themselves.
But as we watched the so-called "kids' table" debate on Thursday night -- the forum held for the seven candidates who didn't poll high enough to make it into the main event -- we realized that some of the questions asked by moderators Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer were truly terrible. The questions were often poorly phrased, and many revealed the moderators' obvious political leanings.
From asking candidates whether Donald Trump was "getting the better" of them to posing leading questions about mosques requiring surveillance, absurdity reigned.
Watch some of Thursday night's worst questions in the video above.
For more GOP debate coverage, visit our liveblog.
Donald Trump and nine other people will take the stage in Cleveland on Thursday night for the first of at least nine Republican presidential debates. Earlier in the day, several lesser-known candidates will go at it on an undercard that’s been set up to contend with the fact that 17 people think that they should be the GOP nominee.
We at 2016 FIRST TO LAST are charitable souls, and we want to help them all, if for no other reason than that covering such a large, chaotic field is so much fun. One obvious priority for the debaters is to be ready for the Godzilla of Glitz to stomp on you with his gigantic Gucci loafers. (Although Trump said in a tweet that he’ll be playing nice.)
You need to have a calm, classy and substantive comeback. You also need to remember that the FOX moderators are (maybe!) out to get Trump, whom their boss of bosses, Rupert Murdoch, can’t stand. So that means: Get out of the way. And of course: Always lower expectations -- to zero if possible -- since this whole thing is such a circus.
But beyond that, what should you, the candidate, do? Sadly, no rich megadonor is paying us, but here is our premium (free) advice.
By tradition, only grumpy, unglamorous curmudgeons consider running as independent candidates for president -- men such as George Wallace, John Anderson, Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan. They were the political equivalents of a shot and a beer.
But now we have the innovative Donald Trump. He is a glitzy global celebrity: an orange-haired, gold-plated bottle of Cristal, full of ephemeral fizz and loaded with gas. Which got us thinking here at 2016 FIRST TO LAST. What other public-spirited, somewhat political celebs, entertainers, captains of industry and Aspen-ish “thought leaders” are out there who might also qualify to be whisked through the “tough door” at Club White House and into VIP room of possible independent candidates?
Because, really, anyone would be preferable, or at least more tolerable. Our list: