Campaign for Working Families

Thursday, August 24, 2023 -- The GOP Debate, Fox Is Off The Rails, Trump's Proud Surrender

The GOP Debate


The first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign is over.  Below are some random thoughts on the Republican debate and where the race is headed.




The Winners


I believe Donald Trump won the debate simply because I don’t see how he would have benefited by being in the middle of those raucous exchanges, described by one conservative outlet as a “B-Team Brawl.” 


Elon Musk was another clear winner.  It appears that millions more people watched Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson on Musk’s X social media platform, formerly known as Twitter, than the GOP debate on Fox News.


As for the candidates on the debate stage last night, a CNN focus group of Iowa GOP voters declared young political outsider Vivek Ramaswamy the clear winner of last’s debate. 


A poll conducted for The Daily Mail also found that Ramaswamy had the best performance last night.  And, based on the Google search trend results, voters watching at home were clearly intrigued by his performance.




Fox Is Off The Rails


Everyone is noticing the increasing hostility of Fox News, and more specifically the Murdoch family, toward Donald Trump.  But in some ways last night, Fox demonstrated even deeper problems. 


They started the debate with a question about Oliver Anthony’s hit song and how many Americans are struggling today.  The candidates were asked how they would address the concerns expressed in that song. 


While Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a solid response, it would have been a grand slam moment for Trump.  Last night, the other GOP contenders struggled to use the moment to connect with working-class people.


By the way, the fact that they opened with that question is proof that culture is upstream from politics.  Protests at libraries and school board meetings are not sideshows.  They signal where our politics are going.  These countercultural protests, which the left dominated in the 60s, are increasingly coming from the countercultural right today.


After that interesting opening, the Fox moderators spent a remarkably inexcusable amount of time parroting left-wing talking points on abortion and climate change.  The Biden White House must have been popping champagne corks. 


Fox brought up those two issues before Biden’s open border crisis, before his crime crisis and before the growing threats from communist China.  It almost seemed like far-left hacks at “MSDNC” wrote the script for them. 






Fox News host Martha MacCallum began the conversation on abortion by declaring it “a losing issue for Republicans.”  Wrong, Martha!  It’s a losing issue for the innocent babies who are losing their lives every day and for the women who are being exploited by the left. 


Sadly, however, some in the GOP are still struggling to handle the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which has been our goal for the last 50 years.  But MacCallum’s framing of the issue was straight out of the left’s playbook. 


Several of the Republican candidates did push back by noting that the Democrats are the extremists when it comes to abortion.  Most noted that it wasn’t just a state issue, but a moral issue and a federal issue. 


But former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley bizarrely claimed that nothing could be done without “consensus,” all the while protesting that she is pro-life.  That may sound like she is “threading the needle,” but it is a terrible position. 


The Democrats intend to pass a radical national pro-abortion law, and Haley seems to be suggesting that she won’t do anything about it.


Here's what bothered me the most:  I was disappointed that not one Republican had their wits about them to say that abortion has been a winning issue for the tens of thousands of babies who are now alive because the Republican Party, which ended slavery, also stood for life. 


Half of all the states in the union now have laws providing some degree of protection for unborn children since the overturn of Roe v. Wade.  And if it’s such a losing issue, why was every pro-life governor easily reelected in 2022?




The Boo Meter


The only time when the crowd really objected and booed the most came when Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson, the most anti-Trump candidates, expressed their desire to throw Trump under the bus and forget about him. 


Not surprisingly, their call to sacrifice the former president to the unhinged left did not sit well with the audience of conservative activists.




Biden’s Ukraine War


When the Ukraine war started, only Donald Trump expressed caution about the United States getting into a potential conflict with Russia.  Trump took that position when most Republicans wanted to give Ukraine a blank check.  $200 billion later, support for the war effort has plummeted.


The divisions over Ukraine were on full display at last night’s debate.  The two leading candidates -- Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy -- are against Biden’s blank check for Ukraine, while Mike Pence and Nikki Haley were the most aggressive in defending the effort.




Pence’s Performance


Like me, Mike Pence’s political life was molded by Ronald Reagan.  To this day, Vice President Pence refers to himself as a “Reagan Republican.”  


But with all due respect to the former president and the man I was honored to serve for all eight years of his administration, the question today is whether “Reagan Republicanism” works in an era where the American left is increasingly dominated by neo-Marxists. 


The communists we’re fighting today aren’t in Moscow.  They’re in America! 


Pence’s critics have often felt that he wasn’t tough enough and aggressive enough in these kinds of debate settings.  But a tip of the hat to his performance last night.  Even though I didn’t agree on a number of points, Pence was willing to mix it up. 


Almost immediately, he challenged Vivek Ramaswamy, who was the only candidate on that stage with any momentum.  That was a politically smart move. 


Former Vice President Mike Pence proudly defended the accomplishments of the Trump/Pence Administration and boldly stood for the sanctity of life.  While his strong pro-life stance and commitment to faith are commendable, the jury is out on whether he can generate enough momentum to break out of the pack.




Ironic & Infuriating


In a debate in which virtually every candidate was sounding the alarm on communist China, Fox News promoted an ad from TikTok about how it is helping elderly veterans. 


This communist Chinese company is mining the data of America’s children and young adults, and it has the audacity to run an ad on the leading conservative news network! 


Fox News should have had the integrity to reject the ad, but that would have required putting principle before profit.  Will Fox News take ads from Planned Parenthood during the next debate? 


Sadly, their choice to air the ad only undercut the efforts of conservatives in Congress to get TikTok totally divested from the Chinese Communist Party or kicked out of the country. 




Bauer & Rose


If you’d like more analysis of last night’s GOP debate, be certain to check out to today’s “Bauer & Rose Podcast.”




The Trump/Tucker Show


Just before the “B-Team brawl” in Milwaukee, Donald Trump’s interview with Tucker Carlson went live last night.  In that interview, Trump said the number one priority of his next term would be securing the southern border and finishing the border wall.


I was also struck by a remarkable line of questioning by Carlson, who asked Trump if he was concerned that left-wing extremists might try to assassinate him, given that the fake scandals and politically motivated indictments aren’t working.


Trump noted that there are many decent Americans who do identify as Democrats, but he also acknowledged that there are some “savage animals,” adding, “I’ve seen what they do, I’ve seen the lengths that they go to, when they make up the” Russia collusion hoax. 


Trump is essentially hinting that they are capable of trying to kill him.  We already know that they want him in jail until he dies.  Their rhetoric resulted in a deranged leftist coming to Washington, D.C., hoping to kill conservative Supreme Court justices.


This is why Republicans who are so desperate to get back to “normalcy” are completely missing the age we are living in. 




Trump’s “Proud Surrender”


Last night’s debate will be quickly shoved from the headlines because of today’s big news – Donald Trump’s surrender later this evening at the Fulton County jail.  In a Truth Social post, Trump declared that he would “proudly be arrested” in Georgia tonight for his commitment to election integrity.


The former president’s booking is another low point for the Republic.  Yesterday, Democrats gleefully celebrated the mugshots of Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, John Eastman and Jenna Ellis, among others. 


Just think about that for a moment. 


These individuals were the president’s lawyers and legal advisers.  But the left is sending a clear message that it is willing to use the criminal justice system to punish anyone who dares to resist their neo-Marxist takeover of America. 


Meanwhile, House Republicans are launching an investigation of Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis.  Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Willis demanding information on whether she coordinated her investigation in any way with Jack Smith and his team of rogue prosecutors.