The first official Republican debate was, at least, good television, chock full of shouting matches, bald-faced lies, and ad hominem attacks. Spanning two hours, it addressed everything from national security to reproductive rights and economics (with a fifteen-second token question on race in America). Below, a roundup of the most outrageous, inaccurate, and simply hilarious statements from the ten candidates, by topic.
Ranging from Donald Trump’s pledge to “bomb the hell out” of Iraqi oil fields, to Scott Walker’s (more tempered) promise to fight ISIS like he fought 100,000 pro-worker activists, the flock of Republican presidential hopefuls have, over the months, discovered surprisingly inventive ways to direct their national security ideals. There was some hope that Rand Paul, who has occasionally expressed sensible views on civil liberties and national security, might challenge the GOP consensus, but as John Nichols points out, “when it counts,” Paul has proven to be far from the rogue libertarian people think he is.
Last night’s much anticipated Republican debate—which quickly devolved into excruciating levels of paranoia and xenophobia—did not lack the ferocity we’ve come to expect from the Grand Old Party. There were snide remarks from Donald Trump, petty insults between candidates, and (per usual) tacit calls for waterboarding, torture, and aggression. There was even an amusing mid-debate spat between Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul (“I think you fundamentally misunderstand the bill of rights”), Paul told Christie. More cringe-worthy moments below:
- “The military is not a social experiment. The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things,” Mike Huckabee on transgender rights and the military.
- “The thing that is probably most important is having a brain.” —Dr. Ben Carson on whether his foreign policy blunders indicate he’s not ready to be president.
- “What we do in order to get the information that we need is our business.” —Dr. Ben Carson on whether he would bring back waterboarding.
- “We will not defeat radical Islamic terrorism so long as we have a president unwilling to utter the words: ‘Radical. Islamic. Terrorism.’” —Ted Cruz on his approach to defeating ISIS.
- “To honor the people that died [in Iraq], we need to—we need to—stop the—Iran agreement, for sure, because the Iranian mullahs have their blood on their hands…” —Jeb Bush
- “When someone points a gun at your head and loads it, by God, you ought to take that seriously.” —Mike Huckabee on the Iran deal
- “You probe with bayonets. When you find mush, you push,” Scott Walker on how to deal with Putin’s aggression.
- “When you have people that are cutting Christians’ heads off… when you have places on the border [that are like medieval times], we don’t have time for tone.” —Donald Trump on his divisive rhetoric.
- “Yes, I do.” —Chris Christie on whether he believes Rand Paul could really be blamed in the event of a terrorist attack.
When Chris Christie shared a tad too much about his sex life earlier this week (he’s used birth control—“and not just the rhythm method, okay?”), he planted some false hope that in their first debate, the GOP candidates would dare to veer, even slightly, from their ever-more conservative party line on reproductive rights. Alas, the remarks from the ten wombless men were pretty much par for the course. It was as apparent as ever that the candidates are uniformly and staunchly anti-choice (Jeb Bush appears a relative moderate—for his belief that abortion should be legal only in cases of rape, incest, or the threat to a woman’s life).