A moderate’s review of the Republican national debate: Part 4 & Closing

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 4 and the closing arguments.


This section covers education and trans issues, and does so incredibly fast, so they can move on to a lightning round of rather esoteric questions. I’m impressed that Fox only spent a few minutes bashing trans people. Will it mean Republicans finally find a new punching bag? Unlikely.

DeSantis is just all canned answers and extremely illegal pledges. I think he’s officially not the runner up anymore.

Vivek is trying to steal his thunder, and his rhetoric lands with the audience. He’s still nuts though. Might be a benefit with this audience, given their reactions.

Burgum wasn’t all that present, but his answers here were consistent with earlier ones and landed.

Haley is pushing neo-liberal points like school vouchers, and ironically is one of the only people to attack trans people (partnered with DeSantis in that one). She’s the weakest she’s been so far in this section.

Pence is once again surprisingly outperforming expectations. Not only that (since those were set at the level of a potato) but he’s actually making good counters and scoring points, despite a hostile audience.

Hutchinson tries so hard, but everything he says is countered by a quick google search checking the numbers.

He should learn to lie from Scott, who is just completely removed from reality.

Christie got one shot, and he turned a stupid question around, but then busted up again because he is trying to play to the dumbest common denominator. No, Presidents should not tell people everything.

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On to education! First up is DeSantis, who would like you to forget that he shut down Florida from March to August 2020. He would also like to remind you how terrified he is of black history and trans people. It’s rather funny to watch bobble-head Ron (seriously, someone needs to tell him to stop nodding along to his own points) talk about educating people on civics, given in this very debate he has stood up for insurrectionists, misunderstood what the military can do, and pledged to commit acts of war.

Then Vivek gets to explain why none of the things that make government function should exist. This should be fun. It breaks down on 3 points:

1) Eliminate the DoE and give that money to parents (to pay for expensive private schools, thus enriching his friends)
2) End teacher unions so that the people we trust with our kids get paid jack shit
3) Require that every high school senior has to pass the citizenship test we use on immigrants.

I actually like the last one, but am concerned that Vivek thinks that’s not already a requirement in high school civic education. See, I still have some of my old school notes, I have those of my kids and the generation of today; we learned these things in school. Some people, probably those Vivek hangs out who tell him such terrible ideas are brilliant, forgot them. But everyone was taught them and were tested on them.

And then Vivek makes another dumbass claim that the government pays women not to have men in the house… this kid is nuts.


On to trans stuff! Burgum gets to answer first why he doesn’t support bans like all good MAGA folks. He sticks to his belief that national policies aren’t good because they are one size fits none. At least he’s consistent. Point for him. He then gives a good shout out to teachers, acknowledges that they are poorly paid, and thinks there’s too much red tape. Can’t say I disagree.

Haley now gets to talk about trans stuff, but chooses instead to focus on putting schools under microscopes, in case they are learning black history, and to let parents choose what schools kids go to (well, rich ones anyway, the poor ones have to make do with the gutted scraps of public education). Ah, she gets one shot off on trans folks by, like a typical modern Republicans, not understanding a thing about the subject.


Pence gets 30 seconds to answer if presidents should have to pass a mental and physical test to be president. Pence replies in the most common sense way, stating that everyone should, not just the president. Another good zinger Mike! What is happening?

Then he pivots to claiming his piece of the “school choice” pie. Given that only 22% of the nation favors school vouchers, I’m not sure they passed mathematics.

Vivek makes one last pitch for why the only thing he brings to the table (inexperience) is a good thing. It actually goes quite well, and if I knew nothing else about him, I might be swayed into believing it. Unfortunately for me, I know he is terrified of people in his generation voting (because they would not vote Republican) but for the audience? I think it works.

Hutchinson tries to pitch that his work in Arkansas showcases his education boni fides. Arkansas is ranked #43 in Education out of 50 states.

Dear God, Fox is really losing it. Now the hosts ask Scott if a president should bolster specific religions in the nation. Which is LITERALLY AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION. Scott, following his tradition in this debate, immediately lies about the Framers, who were most Deists, and then states a bit more intelligently that the role of president is to provide an example. Should have led with that. Then he pivots to attacking teacher’s unions, because nothing scares far right people more than a powerful education lobby.

DeSantis gets a question you know he was happy to get: does he support all adults doing mandatory military service? He uses this to state (to my surprise) that he thinks it should remain a volunteer force, and then again tries to paint himself as a warrior, despite being a LEGAL AIDE to the Navy Seals. He’s hoping for some sweet reflected valor.

He repeats his focus on the mission line. Where’s Christie to call him out like Rubio?

And we’ve officially lost it. Fox asks Christie about UFOs, to which Christie rightfully teases them that he gets a UFO question. Because THAT’S what’s important, right Fox? He handles it all right, teasing the host about New Jersey reputations. Then he says the job of the president is to level with the people about everything. Umm… NO! The guy you attack all the time is under indictment because he REVEALED INFORMATION HE WASN’T SUPPOSED TO! Come on man.


Time for closing speeches! Traditionally, these have nothing to do with what we just watched, and are just stump speeches we’ve heard a 100 times. Let’s see if anyone surprises.

Burgum: Bland. Blames Biden for inflation (which he reduced) and says he’ll do a great job on the border (reminder: he’s about as far away from the border with Mexico as it is possible to be, seeing as he’s up against the CANADIAN border) Meh.

Hutchinson: Better, hit the notes (belief in the people, bringing out the best in people). When he said the best is not Trump, the audience actually booed. Moronic, as this debate is literally a bunch of people who want to beat Trump. 6/10, with a pitch for his website at the end.

Scott: Repeated his lines almost verbatim about his experience with the American dream. Canned response. And then a dumb statement: “If you were born male, you play sports. Against men.” I’m guessing that was supposed to be “play sports against men,” an attack on trans people, but he botched it. Failure.

Christie: “Everyone on this stage wants to be POTUS.” Personally, I think a few are running for VP. He does strongly note that he’s the only one on the stage who’s beaten a Democrat in a blue area. Nicely played. Strong finish.

Haley: Starts off with reflected valor from her husband. Oh no. Then goes on to say her running for president is analogous to troops fighting in Iraq. Oh God no. What a poor choice, reminds me of Bone Spurs saying his sleeping around was like Vietnam.

Pence: Still trying to blame Biden for a laundry list of things the adminstration he was VP for did. Might work for low information voters, but it just shows anyone with knowledge that he’s unable to take responsibility for his failures, like the agreement to pull out of Afghanistan and runaway spending under Trump. A weak end to an otherwise good night for him.

Vivek: Appeals to people’s commonality, saying we all share one identity bound in 1776. He then goes on to throw athiests (and people who believe in other religions), trans people and those who grasp what gender is, anyone who thinks we can do without fossil fuels out (forgetting that people in 1776 didn’t use them), anyone who laughs at the misnomer “reverse racism”, anyone who understands how borders work, anyone who disagrees with lunatic parents, anyone who isn’t or doesn’t want to be in a nuclear family, anyone who feels cheated by Capitalism, and anyone who has ever studied more modern constititons that protect liberties worldwide out. Leaving… well his little club of MAGA followers. Not really great when unity means believing a very narrow set of things.

DeSantis: More basement and bobbleheading. Nothing of interest here.