(Jim Clark) – If you are reading this in the Bonanza print edition, it is August 6, 2015 and the first national debate among the ten best polling Republican candidates for president of the United States will be televised on Fox News at 6:00 PM local time tonight. That will include Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R – FL), Sen. Ted Cruz (R – TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R – KY), former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. If you’re a glutton for political drama, Fox News will also air a pre-debate at 2:00 PM local time today with all of the above plus Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Senator Rick Santorum (R – PA), Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and former New York Gov. George Pataki.
There have been some GOP candidate antics that debate watchers should be aware of if they want to better understand all the slings and arrows which will fill the air tonight. Today’s column is intended to provide background and current polling information about some of the key players and issues in tonight’s shows.
Donald Trump bashed Mexican immigrants in his now famous speech announcing his candidacy for POTUS which triggered a sharp rebuke from Candidate Jeb Bush and former candidate John McCain. Trump doubled down by implying McCain, though a P.O.W., was not a war hero. Nevertheless Trump rose like a meteor in the polls. Why? Rasmussen Reports just released a poll showing that 76% of likely Republican voters agree with Trump that illegal immigration increases the incidence of serious crime.
Last week, Ted Cruz hurled a broadside at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) accusing him of lying about a “secret deal” to resuscitate Export-Import Bank legislation by tacking it onto a popular highway funding bill. Tea Party Conservatives perceive the bank as corporate welfare while pro-business Republicans are big supporters. Cruz went a step further comparing McConnell to former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) in thwarting Republican voters who hoped that a GOP majority would behave like Republicans. According to a Rasmussen poll only 24% of likely GOP voters believe Republican legislators are doing a good job.
When Jeb Bush recently said Americans are not working hard enough, Cruz responded that the problem is not with Americans’ work habits, it’s that “special interests, lobbyists and career politicians have rigged the game against them.” Rasmussen found that 69% of GOP voters agree with Cruz.
More recent polling results: 87% of likely Republican voters think Congress should take action to undermine Pres. Obama’s recent executive order halting deportation of some 5 million illegal immigrants. 82% of GOP voters think the US is overtaxed. 79% of GOP voters agree with the House’s recent effort to strip funding from “sanctuary cities” that don’t enforce immigration laws. 60% of likely Republican voters want to repeal Obamacare and start over. Yet, seven months into total Republican control of Congress, these issues have not been addressed in the Senate.
In foreign policy, the “deal,” which is supposed to stop or delay Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons remains an enigma. Although the measure has been approved by the United Nations and is now pending review by Congress, recent developments unearthed the fact that Secretary of State Kerry entered into secret side agreements with Iran which will not be disclosed publicly or to Congress.
There are plenty of explosive issues for debating candidates to light a match today. Viewers should keep in mind the sentiments of GOP primary voters in watching the strategies and tactics employed by these high stakes gladiators.
Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.