Recap of the Democratic and Republican primary debates

Last week, both the Democratic and Republican parties held primary debates. Next spring, both parties will determine which candidate they wish to nominate for President; as the general election is in next November, and many seniors and some juniors will be able to vote, here’s a recap of the issues discussed in each debate.

Aidan Backus, Editor-in-Chief

Last week, both the Democratic and Republican parties held primary debates. Next spring, both parties will determine which candidate they wish to nominate for President; as the general election is in next November, and many seniors and some juniors will be able to vote, here’s a recap of the issues discussed in each debate.

Republican debates, especially the one hosted by CNBC, have been characterized by pundits as lacking substance and largely consisting of Donald Trump and the moderators launching shallow personal attacks on the other candidates. Perhaps the lowest point was when a moderator called Trump a “comic-book villain” and then Chris Christie slammed CNBC, saying that “Even in New Jersey, what you’re doing is rude.”

However, the debate last week, hosted by Fox Business Network, was of a much higher quality. Trump was barely allowed to speak out of turn (and when he did, it was mainly to call out Carly Fiorina for doing the same), and the moderators were dedicated to asking serious questions about economic policy.

On foreign relations, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio debated whether to expand the military by $1 trillion to defeat ISIS. Paul said that it was “not very conservative” to add $1 trillion that the government does not have to the budget, while Rubio insisted that safety was worth racking up further debt. Humorously, Trump argued that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal should be canceled because it will cause America to outsource jobs to China, after which Paul calmly pointed out that China isn’t even part of the TPP. (Pundit Charles Krauthammer argues that the point of the TPP is to contain China by encouraging their neighbors to trade with the US instead.)

Rubio and Ted Cruz likely had the best nights. Though Cruz gaffed by listing the five government agencies he would cut as “The IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Commerce, and HUD” he was able to recover, explaining how his views, such as no amnesty for illegal immigrants, are the best to distance the Republicans from the Democrats and allow them to most easily to defeat Hillary Clinton, who they view as a successor to the failed administration of Barack Obama.

The Democratic debate occurred a day after ISIS launched its attack on Paris, and though the Democrats have previously debated social issues and ending income inequality in past debates, this time they centered on the issue of the Middle East. Here Clinton found herself on the defensive, because she supported the Iraq War, which Bernie Sanders blames for the instabilities and power vacuums that lead to the rise of the Islamic State. Sanders supported creating a coalition of Islamic nations to defeat ISIS, while Clinton called for assaulting ISIS outright. Martin O’Malley claimed that the United State should stamp out evil when it arises, but that American soldiers are humans, not just “boots on the ground”.

The Democratic debated eventually returned to the usual issues: income inequality, debt incurred by college students, and healthcare reform. Sanders stood for free college for all, paid for by a tax on the very wealthy; Clinton stressed the importance of reforming Obamacare. When the issue of immigration came up, O’Malley slammed Trump as an “immigrant-bashing carnival barker” and cited the lack of net immigration from Mexico.

Sanders and O’Malley later attacked Clinton for accepting campaign donations from Wall Street, and Sanders claimed that Teddy Roosevelt would have broken up the economic firms that lead to the Great Recession of 2008. Clinton fought back, criticising Sanders’s moderate stance on gun control. By the end of the debate, however, the three contenders were on the same side, criticising the Republican Party’s views on foreign policy, economics, and social issues.