For most commentators, Thursday (August 6) night’s televised debate of Republican Party presidential candidates was dominated, unsurprisingly perhaps, by Donald Trump.
Billionaire businessman-turned-politician Trump was among 10 of the most popular candidates – selected on the basis of opinion polls – to take part in the discussion, broadcast from Cleveland by Fox News.
They were: Donald Trump; Jeb Bush; Scott Walker; Mike Huckabee; Ben Carson; Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio; Rand Paul; Chris Christie; and John Kasich.
Seven other candidates – Rick Perry; Bobby Jindal; Rick Santorum; Carly Fiorina; Lindsey Graham; George Pataki and Jim Gilmore – took part in an earlier discussion, away from the spotlight of the main event.
“Donald J. Trump was outrageous. He was demeaning. He was even somewhat menacing, warning a female moderator that he could turn on her at any moment.
“Over and over, in moments that were as startling as they were comedic, he openly flouted the rules of political decorum — not to mention those of a Republican Party that punishes disloyalty and the slightest flirtation with members of the opposition.
“At one point, Mr Trump bragged about his donations to the nation’s leading Democrat and a rival candidate for the White House, Hillary Rodham Clinton, saying the contribution gave him the power to beckon, if not demand, her attendance at his most recent nuptials.
“His preparations were virtually nonexistent. As his fellow White House aspirants diligently rehearsed for the two-hour forum, burying themselves in briefing books and devoting days to mock debate sessions, he blithely announced that such labors were unnecessary. And he seemed to treat the event itself as just another appointment on his packed schedule, arriving in Cleveland oddly late in the day, aboard his Boeing 757.”
“To Trump’s left was another frontrunner -– Jeb Bush -– looking anything but comfortable in the spotlight. He broke with party dogma on immigration, got booed on his education stance, continued to struggle with questions of political dynasty, and was again left explaining his position on Iraq.
“To his right was Scott Walker, hastily explaining positions on immigration and abortion in his first real exposure of this magnitude.”
Anthony Zurcher, for BBC News, said Trump was regarded by the audience as an amusing sideshow.
“Around a thousand grassroots activists packed a ballroom in an Atlanta hotel to watch tonight’s Republican debate, and they went home thrilled with the performance.
The verdict from the crowd wasn’t difficult to pick up. Moderates like John Kasich and Jeb Bush didn’t do anything to win them over – even eliciting boos on occasion – while conservative darlings like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio garnered positive reviews even if they had limited opportunities to really shine.
Rabe added that she wished Carly Fiorina, the former business executive, had got a chance to show her stuff on the stage. She is roundly considered to have dominated the earlier debate among lower-tier candidates.”
“I was most impressed by Carly Fiorina, I just think she stood above the other people on the stage. She was sharp on national security, she was, not surprising for a former CEO, sharp on domestic policy and budget and money issues. I just think there’s a kind of sharpness and intelligence about her and the precision of her message really cut through.
But other commentators could not take their eyes off Donald Trump.
Philip Elliot, for TIME, wrote: “So much for the idea that Donald Trump would try to act like a typical presidential candidate. No, when The Donald met his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination during their first debate Thursday, it was all bluster and bravado—although the bullying seemed to be kept in check.
“It was The Trump Show. His nine rivals were merely bit players. While Trump boasted about his business empire, his opponents were offering thoughtful answers and policy prescriptions. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush each delivered solid performances, yet were eclipsed by Trump.”
MJ Lee, on CNN.com, wrote: “The billionaire real estate mogul delivered an unforgettably explosive performance Thursday night. He repeatedly attacked his rivals on stage, jousted with the moderators, drew jeers and laughter from the audience with his typically colorful language and, true to form, refused to apologize for anything.”
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