Why Rand Paul Shouldn't Stop Being Aggressive In The Second GOP Debate, Because It's Exactly What's Needed
As the second Republican presidential primary debate grows closer, much speculation has been made about how the 11 candidates will conduct themselves on stage. For instance, will Donald Trump feud with another moderator? Or will Rand Paul's aggressive debate style will work for him again? With the exception of the media circus surrounding Trump's remarks on women, one of the most memorable moments of the first debate featured Paul, the Kentucky senator whose campaign is losing steam.
With a crowded field, Paul hasn't gotten much of a spotlight on him, save for when he picks fights with the other candidates — Trump in particular. And though some may have found his behavior grating or uncouth, one of the best things Paul could do is repeat that style again on Wednesday, during the second debate.
Within moments of the beginning of the August debate, Paul was already interrupting moderators to call out Trump's refusal to pledge not to run as an Independent. And as the night wore on, he became more and more spirited, culminating in a literal shouting match with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over the Patriot Act. It's one of the only moments in which Paul stood out that night. Compared to Trump's 11 minutes, Paul had little over five minutes of speaking time, including his fight.
His feistiness on stage not only made him stand out compared to some other candidates, but also might be the type of debate style that candidates should be emulating. According to some, like upcoming CNN debate moderator Jake Trapper, Paul's willingness to stray from talking points and get heated is exactly what Wednesday's forum needs. "It was actually two guys passionately debating an important issue," Tapper told CNN Money. "Let's have as many of those [moments] as possible."
According to Tapper, the questions prepared for the upcoming debate are designed to create heated moments like the Christie-Paul standoff: "What the team and I have been doing is trying to craft questions that, in most cases, pit candidates against the other — specific candidates on the stage — on issues where they disagree, whether it's policy, or politics, or leadership. Let's actually have them discuss and debate."
Which means that Paul could shine. In the first debate, he showed that he was willing to go off-script and get into the thick of it. In a debate designed to encourage this, he could truly stand out. Paul's behavior may also push other candidates to follow suit, resulting in a debate the likes of which America hasn't seen in years.
And it could very well pull Paul, who is currently sitting at the bottom of this debate, to the top of the next one. Voters who appreciate Trump's unstudied air and scrappy nature may be impressed by Paul. And even if he doesn't come out of the debate looking like a more viable candidate, he may serve another important purpose as the party's foil, challenging the others on the issues and dragging them into arguments.
It will be interesting to see whether Paul tempers himself or goes all in with the upcoming debate. And it will be even more interesting to see who he goes after.