POLITICS
08/06/2015 11:39 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2015

Establishment Candidates Walker, Bush Stumble In GOP Debate

Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, two of the leading establishment candidates in the Republican primary, turned in deeply unimpressive performances Thursday evening in the GOP debate, further casting the race for the nomination into uncertainty.

Earlier Thursday, Carly Fiorina, who'd been barred by polling averages from the primetime debate, seized her moment, while Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and casino entertainer Donald Trump commanded the stage later that evening.

Walker, the Wisconsin governor, came off flat, while Bush seemed himself unconvinced by his own lines. "Looks like he wouldn't vote for himself up there," quipped one unaligned GOP operative.

In Bush's closing statement, he asked people to vote for him "whenever the primary is." He meant to nod to the different dates of primaries in different states, but it sounded more like a statement of ultimate ambivalence.

Walker, meanwhile, returned with predictable regularity to his vanquishing of teachers in Wisconsin, which he called "big government union bosses." In his closing argument, he offered humbly, "I'm a guy with a wife and two kids and a Harley."

09/16/2015 11:26 PM EDT

Donald Trump Peddles Discredited Vaccine-Autism Link

HuffPost's Arthur Delaney reports:

"Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close," Trump said. "I am totally in favor of vaccines but I want smaller doses over a longer period of time."

All states require certain immunizations in order for children to be admitted to public schools, with limited exceptions for religious or health reasons. Some parents worry vaccines cause autism, a theory supported by less than a shred of evidence. Some other parents favor slowing the schedule of immunizations to reduce the risk of autism, another unsupported theory.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains the risk of delaying immunizations: "Some vaccine-preventable diseases remain common in the United States, and children may be exposed to these diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines, placing them at risk for a serious case of the disease that might cause hospitalization or death." Skipping or delaying vaccinations also weakens herd immunity, which protects people who are too young to have been immunized.

Read more here.

09/16/2015 11:15 PM EDT

Three GOP Candidates Want A Black Power Activist On The $ 10 Bill

On Thursday night, during the second GOP 2016 debate, Donald Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) said they would be open to putting Rosa Parks on the $ 10 bill, though Cruz said he'd rather have her picture on the $ 20 and take Andrew Jackson off it.

But the Republican candidates might be surprised to learn Parks worked with the black power movement and was influenced by Communism. In her younger years, she attended Communist Party meetings with her husband, though she never joined. In addition, some of the groundwork for the civil rights movement in Alabama was laid by the Communist movement.

Parks also served on the board of Planned Parenthood and opposed the Vietnam War.

-- Julia Craven

09/16/2015 10:43 PM EDT

Carly Fiorina Discusses Burying A Child Due To Drug Abuse

Carly Fiorina admitted that she and her husband had buried a child who died from health issues related to drug abuse.

Fiorina prefaced her candid admission by expressing the hope that she was the only one on the stage who had done so.

Fiorina went on to express support for greater drug treatment, but insisted that smoking marijuana is not like having a beer. She added that marijuana has become more dangerous because it is stronger than it once was.

“It is not the marijuana Jeb Bush was smoking,” Fiorina said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

-- Daniel Marans

09/16/2015 10:20 PM EDT

Trump: I Can't Be Expected To Recognize Arab Name After Arab Name

HuffPost's Akbar Ahmed reports:

Donald Trump tried to salvage his failure last month to identify top American enemies in the Middle East by saying he could not expected to recognize one "Arab name" after another.

"It was a legitimate misunderstanding," Trump said, blaming his comments about not knowing extremist leaders' names on the interviewer who had asked him about them. Standing before Hugh Hewitt, the interviewer and one of the moderators of tonight's debate, Trump said it wasn't that he did not know all the threatening figures -- it was that Hewitt couldn't properly pronounce.

Hewitt chuckled and nodded. ...

The candidate's reference to "Arab names" made his response to Tapper even weaker. He had confused one of the subjects Hewitt asked him about, Iran's Quds Force, with a group that is very assertive about not being Arab: the Kurds, U.S. partners who Trump couldn't compliment fast enough, even though they were not relevant to Hewitt's question.

Read more here.

09/16/2015 9:40 PM EDT

Ted Cruz Claims Winning At The Supreme Court Gives Him Cred To ‘Rip To Shreds’ The Iran Deal

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) touted his experience as solicitor general in Texas and a victory before the Supreme Court as proof he could undo President Barack Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

“You’d better believe it, if I’m elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal,” Cruz said.

The Texas lawmaker was responding to a question from CNN host Jake Tapper, who asked whether such grandstanding about the Iran deal was no more than “playing to the crowd” and not really a sign that he had foreign policy experience.

“Let’s be clear when it comes to experience,” Cruz said. “What President Obama wants to do is he wants to run to the United Nations and he wants to use the United Nations to bind the United States and take away our sovereignty.”

That’s when Cruz name-checked Medellin v. Texas, a 2008 case in which the Supreme Court ruled the Vienna Convention, which President George W. Bush sought to make applicable to the states, was not binding on state courts. Cruz won that case for the state of Texas.

Based on the reasoning of Medellin, states could theoretically choose to not be bound by the Iran deal. But here the dispute is between Congress and the president. And if Medellin is to be applied to the Iran deal at all -- at least insofar as a court battle is concerned -- it would require that Congress href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/iran-deal-congress-lawsuit_55f1d85ae4b03784e27879fa" target="_hplink">institute a lawsuit against the president to vindicate its interests. But that’s a longshot at best, because it is not even remotely clear that Congress has definitive standing to sue in federal court.

Ironically, the Medellin decision was written by Chief Justice John Roberts, whom Cruz as recently as last week said was not the best choice to lead the high court.

--Cristian Farias

08/07/2015 3:09 AM EDT

Howard Fineman: Trump Trips In GOP Debate, But Trumpism Wins

Howard Fineman writes in Planet Politics:

CLEVELAND -- Whatever eventually happens to Donald Trump’s candidacy -- and he stumbled personally as a candidate here Thursday night -- this much should be clear to America and the world after the first Republican debate:

Trumpism is taking over a political party that will have a good chance to win the presidency in next year’s election.

Which means that if the GOP takes the White House in 2016, it will do so with a leader who has acknowledged, if not fully accepted, Trump’s clout and at least these aspects of Trumpism:

Construction of a wall (or something) to effectively militarize the U.S.-Mexico border.

A bellicose military stand toward Iran, China and Russia.

A virulent contempt for the federal government, for all government, and for traditional politics as its been practiced.

An immediate repudiation of the now-pending nuclear arms-control deal with Iran.

The abolition of President Barack Obama’s health care law, to be replaced with a private enterprise system of some kind.

A confrontational, name-calling, finger-in-the-chest approach to politics, media and anyone who accidentally gets in your way.

Read more here.

08/07/2015 1:19 AM EDT

Republican Candidates Turn Combative In Lively First Debate

HuffPost's Scott Conroy reports:

CLEVELAND -- Heading into the first Republican presidential debate on Thursday night, much of the talk among the hundreds of journalists and pundits who gathered here centered around whether Donald Trump would tone down the bombast in favor of projecting a kinder, gentler, more “presidential” image.

He did not.

From the moment the debate began, Trump did nothing to mitigate the imperious tact that has driven his rise to the top of the pack in the Republican polls. But Trump’s no-holds-barred approach this time may have done himself more harm than good.

Read more here.

08/07/2015 1:18 AM EDT

Fox News Was The Real Winner Of The Republican Debates

HuffPost's Daniel Marans reports:

The moderators of the main debate -- Megyn Kelly, Brett Baier and Chris Wallace -- were swinging at Trump right out of the gate. Baier opened the debate by asking whether any of the candidates on the stage would not pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee or rule out a third-party run. It was formally directed to all of the Republican field, but it was clearly aimed at Trump, who has a history of supporting Democratic candidates and has warned that he may run as an independent. ...

If the moderators marginalized Trump by training their fire on him, they jettisoned other candidates by giving them little attention. The only candidate who may have fared worse than Trump was neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, who got the least speaking time, and was reduced to joking about it.

Read more here.

08/07/2015 12:38 AM EDT

Donald Trump: Bill Clinton Isn't 'Happy That I'm Running'

HuffPost's Igor Bobic and Samantha-Jo Roth report:

Real estate mogul Donald Trump on Thursday commented on a phone call that took place between himself and former President Bill Clinton earlier this year.

"Yeah, he called me," Trump told reporters after the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland. "He's not happy that I'm running, I can tell you right now, because he thinks I'm the worst nightmare for Hillary."

Read more here.

08/07/2015 12:24 AM EDT

Yep, Trump Got The Most Airtime

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