A moderate’s review of the Republican national debate: Part 2

By Best in Moderation

Yesterday the GOP presidential hopefuls met to debate policies and profiles with one another and present the first official look into the GOP primary contest. I watched the debate in the limited Fox stream (they made it quite inaccessible) and have written my reactions in real time below, as well as my summary. I hope it gives insight for those who didn’t view it, and prompts debate with those who did. Here’s part 2.


This section covers abortion and crime, with a lot of distortions and incorrect premises making it hard to really evaluate people again. IF some of these things were true, then candidates might have good points to make, but since most isn’t, the points fall flat to those with knowledge of the subject. So again, I find it very difficult to test badly applied tactics because the source is already tainted. The level of delusion and dishonesty is increasing, but not (aside from DeSantis and Scott) from the candidates. Fox is such a dishonest organization, it’s very distracting to evaluating the character of the actual people running for president.

Haley is still going strong, but her points get buried under the show much of the time.
Christie had several chances to play to his strengths, but was too cowardly to do so. I think this night isn’t for him.
Pence is desperately hoping that the fervent MAGA worship of Trump reflects onto him based on Trump’s meager record. It does not. However, he is animated, which was unexpected, and is taking people to task. I think he might be the breakout star (life is strange).
DeSantis is an authoritarian who can’t live up to his idol. He is coming off as weak in all areas.
Vivek is just nuts.
Scott seems to have left reality behind and is now living in a world of his own imagination. All his arguments come from incorrect premises, so I have no measure to evaluate other than that he is incorrect.
Burgum seems to be one of the few people who has read the Constitution. Too bad he didn’t read local crime statistics, because if anyone cares to, they can easily cite that rural areas have more issues per capita. But that would mean attacking the GOP base, all to score points on someone with zero chance.

Hutchinson of all people is the one brave enough to point out that no one will respect the law if it doesn’t apply to the most powerful people. Ups his profile a bit, especially timed before part 3. I think that it will however wash away once part three comes back from commercial break and they actually address Trump.

Live Reactions:


Abortion is the topic! So of course Haley gets the first question. Wonder why?

Haley correctly notes that this is a personal topic, and that it’s unrealistic to ban abortion entirely. Also incredibly immoral and anti-freedom, but no one seems to concern themselves with that. She wants incremental agreements, like banning late term abortions except in medical emergencies, contraception being available, doctors not being forced to perform abortions (something that has never been a real thing), not jailing women or giving them the death penalty for abortion (holy heck that you even need to say that!), etc. Basically, she wants WHAT WE HAD BEFORE THEY OVERTURNED ROE!

Pence tries to jump in, host reminds him that he is not mentioned so he has to shut up. He wants to hear from DeSantis. He is asked what he thinks about shifting to moderate positions.

DeSantis claims he had the biggest Republican landslide victory, in Florida in 2022. That seems rather stupid from a member of the party of Reagan.

He claims to believe in a culture of life. I take it he means the MAGA definition, which is -9 months to 0, after which “fuck off and die you welfare parasite” takes effect. Let’s see if others jump on that.

He claims Democrats want to allow all abortion up to the moment of birth. That’s never been their position, though it would be in line with the right of individuals not to have governments tell them they must risk their lives against their will. He then makes up a story about a kid who survived abortion attempts, trying to draw a comparison from that to Democratic policies. Such a deranged person.

He is asked if he supports a 6 week national ban. He doesn’t answer, because he’s a coward.

Pence gets a chance to reply, so he starts with a canned virtue signal about being a Christian. Cringe… it sounds so rehersed.

“Consensus is the opposite of leadership” Mike Pence just described authoritarianism and struck the heart of the dysfunction of the modern day GOP.

Pence says when a fetus can “feel pain” it should not be allowed to be aborted. Ok, so the science conclusively establishes that a human fetus does not have the capacity to experience pain until after at least 24–25 weeks. Every major medical organization that has examined this issue and peer-reviewed studies on the matter have consistently reached the conclusion that abortion before this point does not result in the perception of pain in a fetus. What does he suggest? A 15 week ban. Dear Lord save us from ignorant twits. Let’s also keep in mind that almost no voluntary abortions take place after 15 weeks, so this entire debate is just about control and virtue signaling.

Haley notes that there is no way to pass such a national bill, because 60 votes in the Senate are needed, and Republicans don’t have that. In the words of your party leader, Haley, you are too honest.

Burgum gets a question! Fox tells him he is not in favor of a federal ban, but what does he FEEL (all about the feels yo) about states that allow abortion up to birth. Again, note that almost 100% of abortions anywhere near there are medically necessary. Haley is right; Republicans just want to demonize the issue. Burgum answers that no matter his person feelings, the Constitution (which he has in his suit pocket for just the occasion) says that each state gets to determine things like this. He’s almost correct, close enough. He then calls out Republicans for fighting for 50 years for states to decide, only to on a dime decide there should be a federal ban. Are you sure he’s not a Democrat plant?

Hutchinson chimes in. He says the SC gave it back to the government in general, so it’s ok to ignore the actual messaging from Republicans for 50 years because of a technicality. This is why people don’t think Republicans have any principles. As an aside he mentions that we should probably give a darn about maternal care and adoption. Hey, someone DID take the opening DeSantis left! But he provides nothing except a claim that he did that for Arkansas (Which has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation at 43.5 per 100K people. And yes OF COURSE it’s lowest in heavily blue states. How did you guess?)

Scott wants to weigh in and attack California (which contains more US citizens than 22 mostly Republican US states). He claims California, Illinois and New York have “abortion on demand” until the day of birth itself. CA state law restricts third trimester abortions. Illinois law generally prohibits abortion after viability except in medical situations. New York’s Reproductive Health Act only allows practitioners to perform an abortion on a patient who is 24 weeks or more away from the start of a pregnancy if the fetus is not viable or the abortion is necessary “to protect the patient’s life or health.” Scott is a liar.

It’s amazing how Scott thinks the Declaration of Independence (not a legal document for the USA, btw) acknowledges a right to life but thinks it applies not to extrajudicial killings, lack of accessible healthcare, etc, but it does apply to something the writers of that document probably didn’t even think about or if they did, used it to get rid of evidence of their affairs and or rapes of slaves.

Haley thinks the media should ask Biden if he is for a ban at 38 weeks. I agree, but I don’t think she’ll like the answer, because again, all states already have policies BASED ON ROE v WADE that prevents this situation from happening almost 100% of the time. I guess she IS ok with demonizing the issue if she can call Democrats demons.


Fox pivots to an unsubstantiated talking point that there is a crime and homelessness crisis in America, and that people are moving out of cities because of both. It’s not true, in any sense, as city populations keep growing and crime rates go down across the nation, but Fox doesn’t care about facts, it’s about how you FEEL, remember? Fox host SPECIFICALLY claims that crime rates are still rising post pandemic. Violent crime actually fell immediately after 2020 (https://www.statista.com/statistics/191219/reported-violent-crime-rate-in-the-usa-since-1990/) and for cities specifically, crime has gone down or hasn’t really changed (https://counciloncj.org/mid-year-2023-crime-trends/). So not that it needed saying, but Fox is lying.

Other Fox host specifically claims that homelessness is higher than it’s ever been and rising. Homelessness is in fact nominally 100K less people than in 2007, which is even more impactful if you consider per capita, and it has been going down (https://www.statista.com/statistics/555795/estimated-number-of-homeless-people-in-the-us/#:~:text=Estimated%20number%20of%20homeless%20people%20in%20the%20U.S.%202007%2D2022&text=In%202022%2C%20there%20were%20about,was%20in%202007%2C%20at%20647%2C258) So not that it needs saying, but Fox is lying.

Question to Pence is how much of this is due to COVID lockdowns and is he to blame. Wow. Pence pivots to defund the police. Reminder, crime is DOWN, especially violent crime, and no city actually defunded the police. Let’s see if those facts stop him.

He blames bail reform. Because making sure only rich rapists like his ex-boss spent their time before trial out of jail is the problem. Pence lays a mine for himself to step on by reminding the audience that the tax cuts he designed are DESIGNED to go away in 2025. For the poor and middle class, anyway; no such sunset clause exists for the tax cuts for the wealthy. Oops, let’s see if someone capitalizes on this.

Pence says he will eliminate the department of education. Keeping voters stupid is how he hopes to keep power, apparently. This will be echoed by most candidates on the stage later.

Christie gets a question about guns, and Democrats blaming easy gun access and Republican reticent to do anything at all to curb gun violence. What would Christie do? Christie says the problem isn’t a lack of money, but that prosecutors refuse to arrest criminals. Not sure if he has any evidence of that, since GOP mouthpieces have long claimed this with no evidence.

He then pivots to everyone being held accountable under the law, and instead of the OBVIOUS TARGET of Donald Trump, he blasts Hunter Biden, who hasn’t even had a trial or a deal, and lies about there being a 10 year minimum jail sentence for lying on a gun buying application (it’s a 10 year maximum, meant for gun traffickers). Cowardly act, Christie.

Of course he doesn’t address actual violent crime or how to PREVENT it, only to lock up people already in jail for having committed the crimes. Typical. On to Vivek; this should be entertaining.

Vivek says we should give cops carte blanch to shoot up the streets to make them more safe. Guy watched too much Judge Dredd. He then says we have a mental health epidemic in the USA. This is a common refrain from Republicans who refuse to address that we have a gun violence epidemic in this country (you know, what the question was about). Less than 30% of violent crimes are committed by people with mental health issues.

He then says that medicine won’t be enough to help mentally ill people, they need to dive deeper into a delusion by joining a religion. He then blames mental health issues on people not having a strong identity, firmly cementing that he knows NOTHING about cognition and mental health. That’s a cultural thing, Vivek, not biological or psychological.

As an aside he mentions that we will “close” the southern border. Like most deranged MAGA folks, he doesn’t understand how to do that or even the consequences of a “closed” border.

Pence strikes back, saying we don’t need a new identity, the one from pre civil rights USA will do just fine! He gets a good line in, that we need a government “as good as its people.” Excellent line, but it faded out sadly. Strong showing for Pence.

He and Vivek go back and forth on whether it’s a US cultural problem or a governmental one. Nice delineation, and one of the few substantive things shown by this debate.

.Fox host says that crime is on the rise in Florida, so how will DeSantis stop crime. Fox is, say it with me folks, LYING, as Florida crime rates, like most states, are in decline (https://legaljobs.io/blog/florida-crime-statistics/). It is 25th in terms of violent crime, perfectly middle of the road. However, 5 of the 100 most dangerous cities in the USA are in Florida, which is 2.5 times what should be the average. However again, Florida has more people in it than 16 US states combined. Howere one last time, that does not change the per capita stats that 5 cities of the most dangerous cities are Floridian.

DeSantis correctly states that Fox is lying. Then he goes on an anti-Semitic George Soros dogwhistle which plays well to his alleged Nazi staffers and base. Oye Ve.

He then BRAGS about removing duly elected people from their posts because he didn’t like how they were doing their jobs. That’s not his right to do; that’s why they are ELECTED. Unless they commit a crime, you can’t legally fire them, and they are correctly suing you for it, DeSantis. The audience seems to love his authoritarian rhetoric. Typical for the GOP today, sadly.

Fox pivots to Burgum, who starts spinning a yarn about rural areas being far safer. That’s completely untrue; per capita rural areas are FAR more dangerous and crime filled.

Fox pivots to Hutchinson. He says we need to address drug issues, and help with addiction counseling. Good for you, showing human compassion! Contrast with DeSantis. Unfortunately, you’re in the wrong party if you think trying to help drug users helps you politically.

He then ACTUALLY ALLUDES TO TRUMP, the first person to do so in this whole debate! He says what Christie should have, that to restore trust in the law you have to hold people like Trump accountable. He of course doesn’t mention his name, because Republicans seem defined by their fear of the Trump cult.

The Fox Hosts then pivot to a video of Fulton County jail, and are the first to mention Trump by name. Good grief. All to then go to commercial.

End of Part 2

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