Here's Why You Need To Watch Every Single Debate (No Matter How Predictable)
Here we go again: Fox Business Network and the Wall Street Journal are hosting the fourth GOP presidential debate on Tuesday, and it's sure to be... just like the last debate. Well, not exactly. The network has narrowed down the candidate field, allowing just eight candidates to take the stage at the primetime debate. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have been relegated to the JV forum, along with Rick Santorum and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, scheduled prior to Tuesday night's main event. Of course, GOP front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson will be headlining the primetime debate, where they'll be joined by these usual suspects: Sen. Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Rand Paul.
So, why should you bother watching these familiar faces battle it out on live television for a fourth time. It's simple: with a field of one dozen candidates and no clear winner (sorry, Trump) these debates are crucial to see who's remaining at the top of their game — and who's about to falter at any heated moment. Also, aren't you having fun playing along to Planned Parenthood bingo?
Here's why you should continue making that popcorn and watching every single 2016 debate:
1. See Who Loses Their Cool With The Moderators
First, it was Donald Trump and Fox News' Megyn Kelly. Then, it was Sen. Ted Cruz and basically every CNBC moderator, including John Harwood and Betsy Quick. So far, the GOP debates have generated a ton of press from the on-air verbal assaults against the moderators alone, and while it may be fun to laugh at, the responses some candidates have to these — by all accounts — fair and factual moderators are quite telling. If you can't handle a question from Kelly about sexism without saying she "had blood coming out of her wherever," then how are you going to handle the presidency? (Answer: probably in the same way.)
But equally telling is how the American republic responds. Take Cruz's soapbox speech about the American media at the CNBC debate. "The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media," Cruz exclaimed. "This is not a cage match. ... How about talking about the substantive issues?"
As Ezra Klein at Vox pointed out, Cruz's exasperated moment gave the Texas senator a ridiculously high polling rating. In fact, it was the highest ever for one Republican focus group.
So, how did the Republican candidates fare when they were given those substantive questions? As Klein noted, most retreated to vague responses that barely qualify as sound bites. Here, for instance, was a response from Carson about his mismatched tax plan: "When we put all the facts down, you'll be able to see that it's not true, it works out very well."
Now that NBC is officially banned from hosting any more 2016 GOP debates — per a request from the Republican National Committee — it's worth paying attention to these moderators. Let's hope they don't go easy on them.
2. Stay On Top Of The Fact-Checking
Both the Republican and Democratic candidates are bound to mess up — it's live television, after all. But sometimes, you catch a candidate in a web of lies, one that soon unravels when the fact-checkers come in. Thanks to these televised debates, Fiorina's penchant for making up statistics and scenes from (already edited) videos has been exposed. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO recently found herself in a snare when she claimed 92 percent of jobs lost during President Obama's first term belonged to women — a stat that was first peddled by Mitt Romney's campaign in 2012. Although numerous fact-checkers have labeled Fiorina's stat as flawed, the GOP's sole female candidate doubled-down on her statement in the days following the third debate. But Fiorina's rising political star is already waning — the more she debates, the more her weaknesses are highlighted by her lack of solid sources.
3. Someone's Bound To Break Out, Eventually
No offense to Trump, but political pundits still see the business mogul-turned-reality TV star as a celebrity candidate who will never win the Republican presidential ticket. There's been talk of a brokered convention since this spring, and at times, that idea seems even more likely as non-politicians Trump and Carson remain at the top of the polls. However, election season is long and mercurial — at this point in 2007, Obama was losing out to Hillary Clinton in the polls — and things will begin to heat up pretty quickly in the next few months. Now's your chance to watch out for the GOP breakout star. Will it be Rubio, whose performance at the third debate absolutely charmed viewers? Or the libertarian-minded Cruz? Someone in this field, surely, is bound to have their breakout moment.