Analysis of the First Fox GOP Presidential Debate

by John Hawkins | August 7, 2015 12:15 am

This was an unusual debate for three reasons.

#1) Fox did a terrible job of running the debate. They spent at least half their time trying to bait the candidates into fighting each other. They were like little kids in a school yard, “Oooh, he said that about you! You gonna take that? Why don’t you tell him what you think about him!” Eventually, they prodded Rand Paul and Chris Christie into screaming at each other.


Fox gets an “F” for their handling of this debate. 90% of what they’ve done is trying to get people to scream at each other. #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[3]

This debate is becoming a joke. The questions are really divisive and negative. I’m disappointed with @FoxNews[4] #GOPDebate[2]

— Alyssa Lafage (@AlyssaLafage) August 7, 2015[5]

Do you think that Chris Matthews did a good job writing the questions for FOXNews at the #GOPDebate[2]

— TheRightMixx (@therightmixx) August 7, 2015[6]

#2) Fox also pretty clearly hates Donald Trump and it came across in the way they ran the debate. They started off with a question to the group that was clearly aimed at him (Will everybody here commit to voting for the nominee?) and they followed it up with hostile question after question.

If they are trying to torpedo Trump so far I believe it is backfiring. And just for the record Cruz is my guy at this point

— David Limbaugh (@DavidLimbaugh) August 7, 2015[7]

“I don’t think they like me very much.” — Trump on Fox News #GOPDebate[2] | He’s right. Fox hates him a lot worse than Hillary.

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[8]

Between that and the petty baiting of the candidates, Fox did a poor job of running the debate.

#3) The quality level of the candidates was so much higher than 2012.

Other than Jeb Bush (who was horrible) and Rand Paul who got into a screaming match with Christie and got squashed by Trump, everybody was pretty good.

Trump did what he does. He had lots of good lines, but he has weaknesses. He has lots of liberal positions in his past and he’s never been great at getting into details. I doubt if he did anything to hurt himself with people who were already familiar with him. More casual fans may have a different reaction. Personally, I enjoyed Trump’s performance a lot, but it’s really hard to know how it will play out.

Rand: “(Trump) buys and sell politicians!” Trump: “Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.” — Trump smacks down Rand Paul #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[9]

“So, if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t even be talking about illegal immigration, Chris!” — Trump | He’s right. #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[10]

“I don’t think you heard me. You’re having a hard time tonight.” — Trump to Rand Paul….heheheh #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[11]

Ted Cruz sounded pretty good, but at times it seemed like Fox just wouldn’t ask him any questions.

“There was a reference made to our leaders being stupid….It’s that they don’t want to enforce our immigration laws.” – Ted Cruz #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[12]

“Not only do I support Kate’s Law, I INTRODUCED Kate’s Law.” – @tedcruz[13] #GOPDebate[2] #immigration[14]

— Krystal Heath (@TheFriddle) August 7, 2015[15]

Ben Carson came across as extremely measured and likable.

“If Hillary is the candidate, which I doubt, that would be a dream come true.” — Ben Carson #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[16]

That Ben Carson is just so likable! #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[17]

“I’m only one on this stage to take out half a brain. Though looking at Washington, somebody beat me to it.” @RealBenCarson[18] #GOPDebate[2]

— Krystal Heath (@TheFriddle) August 7, 2015[19]

Scott Walker wasn’t solid, but not spectacular. There were so many other quality debaters that he got lost in the shuffle a bit.

[email protected][20] says that China and Russia probably know more about @HillaryClinton[21]‘s emails than we do. #GOPdebate[22] #FactsOnly[23]

— Ali A. Akbar (@ali) August 7, 2015[24]

John Kasich came across fairly well, although he faded a bit at the end.

Wow, two “my father was a mailman” mentions from John Kasich in the first debate. #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[25]

Marco Rubio was good. He came across very well.

“God has blessed us with some very good candidates. The democrats can’t find one.” Marco Rubio #GOPDebate[2] LOL

— Christy Brubaker (@christy_bru) August 7, 2015[26]

Rand Paul had his moments, but he came across as thin skinned. He just didn’t come across well.

“I don’t want my guns or my marriage registered in Washington.” — Rand Paul #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[27]

Jeb was the worst guy on the stage. He’s to the left of most of the field and he has no charisma.

“In Florida, they call me JEB. Because I earned it” — that and “Vito Corleone” — Ugh, so lame. #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[28]

Jeb Bush stands by statement: “Illegal immigration is an act of love.” So, then why are we stopping love by securing our borders? #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[29]

Jeb looks like a Nervous Nellie. #GOPDebate[2]

— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) August 7, 2015[30]

Jeb Bush is the king of awkward. #GOPDebate[2]

— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 7, 2015[31]

Ugh….Watching Jeb Bush suck the air out of the room when he talks makes me long for the dazzling charisma of Mitt Romney. #GOPDebate[2]

— John Hawkins (@johnhawkinsrwn) August 7, 2015[32]

Chris Christie sounded good overall, but his screaming match with Rand (which he won) still won’t come across well. Unsurprisingly, Mike Huckabee sounded good. Whatever flaws he may have, a lack of charisma is not among them.

So, losers? Jeb Bush and Rand Paul (and it pains me to say that because I do like Rand).

Winners? That’s much harder to say. The whole field was just so consistently good and as with so many things regarding Trump, it’s really hard to tell how people are going to react. I thought Trump had the best performance on the stage and I think a lot of his fans will see it the same way, but how will his more casual fans react to it? He didn’t agree to support the GOP nominee. He used to back some liberal positions. These are things they may be finding out for the first time. It’s hard to say what the reaction will be.

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