The first GOP debate of the top 10 candidates on Thursday night yielded no clear winner and only served to reaffirm the Republican position when it comes to issues affecting women and minorities.
With more than 16 percent of U.S. households tuned into the debate on Fox News the highest-ever ratings for a primary debate according to Nielsen the GOP contenders had an opportunity to showcase why they would be best in leading the country forward.
While at times entertaining to watch, the candidates’ positions and rhetoric with regard to issues of gay marriage, a woman’s right to choose and immigration were the same conservative ideals ruled more by scripture than progressive societal norms.
Moreover, discussion of racial issues was nonexistent. Despite a graphic displayed by Fox News stating that 8.5 million people on Facebook were talking about racial issues, there was only one question to one candidate during the entire debate, and the answer couldn’t have been more generic.
The question, posed to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, asked: “Many in the Black Lives Matter movement, and beyond, believe that overly-aggressive police officers targeting young African Americans is the civil rights issue of our time. Do you agree And if so, how do you plan to address it And if not, why not”
Walker’s answer: “I think the most important thing we can do when it comes to policing it’s about making sure that law enforcement professionals have the proper training, particularly when it comes to the use of force.”
There was no further discussion on race, race relations or issues related to police violence.
The remainder of the debate touched on issues of importance for women and minorities, but the GOP’s long-held beliefs remained the same.
With regard to a woman’s right to choose, Walker said he is “very much pro-life, like everyday Americans,” and insisted that despite the fact that 83 percent of the American public is in favor of a life exception if the mother’s life is at stake, “I’ve got a position that’s in line with everyday America.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee went even further, saying unborn fetuses are entitled to constitutional rights.
“I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception,” he said, adding that, “This notion that we just continue to ignore the personhood of the individual is a violation of that unborn child’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights for due process and equal protection under the law.”
On immigration, the pack remained firm on trying to fix “a broken system,” with Donald Trump sticking to building a wall, though he doesn’t “mind having a big beautiful door” to let in some legal immigrants.
Trump was also asked to provide proof of his claims that the Mexican government was intentionally funneling criminals into the U.S. He did not have much evidence other than some border patrol agents he spoken with, but forcefully added, “If it weren’t for me, we wouldn’t be talking about illegal immigration.”
Early on in the debate Trump said, “the big problem this country has is being politically correct I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, whose parents are Cuban, said he favored a balance for tightened borders with realism about the need to resolve the problem of our large illegal population: “This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration,” he said, adding, “Despite our generosity, we’re being taken advantage of.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he favors “a path to earned legal status,” arguing that immigration can serve as “a driver for high sustained economic growth,” but he did not offer specifics.
Transgender issues were lightly touched on, with Huckabee being asked his opinion about the military welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.
“The military is not a social experiment,” he shot back. “The purpose of the military is [to] kill people and break things. It’s not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America. I’m not sure how paying for transgender surgery for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines makes our country safer.”