Column: Sixth GOP debate was similar to those prior

Now that it is officially 2016, undecided Republican voters, who might not have been paying close attention to the election so far, will start to tune in and search for the candidate that they will support in the primaries. The first debate of 2016 (and sixth GOP debate this election) took place at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center in South Carolina on January 14, 2016.

Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, and Rick Santorum all took part in the undercard debate. Rand Paul was invited to attend, but boycotted the event on the grounds that “the media should not pick the winners or losers.” Carly Fiorina, who dominated the first undercard debate in 2015 and rose to the prime-time debates, was expected to have a great performance, and she did. She reminded viewers of her fiery passion and determined attitude. Mike Huckabee, though low in the polls, had an exceptional night. He had a great connection with the audience members and the people watching at home, and he reminded us that he is an intelligent leader who understands the economy, foreign policy, and homeland security. Rick Santorum also had a fine night. He had good moments and made his platform clear, but he failed to stand out from the field of candidates.

In the main debate, candidates like Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Ben Carson, and Chris Christie said the exact same things that they’ve said and argued in other debates. Trump’s still Trump: nothing has changed, unfortunately. There were two winners of the primetime debate: Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Both answered each of the questions with logic and common sense.

What made Ted Cruz’s performance such a great one is the fact that he, a front-runner, went on the offense against Donald Trump and beat him to a pulp. When asked about Trump’s accusations that he is ineligible to be president, Cruz brought up names of former presidential candidates who, based on Trump’s theory, would not be eligible to run for president. He then pointed out that, if we were going by some of the more radical interpretations of “birth-right citizenship” (you’re born in America and both your parents were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth), he would be ineligible, Marco Rubio would be ineligible, Bobby Jindal would be ineligible, and even Donald Trump would be ineligible. This led to Cruz and Trump having a back-and-forth argument (during which Trump was booed by the audience numerous times). Cruz brilliantly tricked Trump into admitting that his attacks were caused by the fact that Cruz “started doing better.”

Marco Rubio answered each question with confidence and level of certainty that many candidates lack. He had many great moments. After Chris Christie said that we can’t afford to elect Hillary Clinton, Rubio said that the events in Benghazi made Hillary Clinton unqualified to be President of the United States. He also criticized President Obama for calling ISIS just a bunch of men with beards on the back of pick-up trucks in the State of the Union. He said, “They are burning people in cages, carrying out attacks all over the world, and kidnapping women to sell them as brides. They are recruiting people here in the United States to carry out attacks like we saw in Philadelphia and San Bernardino….If I’m elected president, I will fight and defeat radical Islamic terrorism.”

--Pierson Castor, Columnist

Edited: BP

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