Mike Littwin and Greg Brophy on Tuesday’s GOP debate

Mike Littwin

9:31 I think I said somewhere near the middle of the debate that this was the Ben’s best debate, defending himself on his, uh, alleged embellishments. It ended up being his worst debate. He was completely undressed on foreign policy, on banking, on, well, everything he touched. Will it hurt his standing? Here’s a guess: No.

In fact, I doubt if this debate has much impact on anyone’s numbers. And while Rubio was once again the sharpest, Cruz and Paul did show a way to go after him, as being too moderate. It was once the way to go after Jeb! Remember Jeb!? This was Jeb!’s best debate, but he’s just not quick enough or deep enough, it seemed, to stay with the senators on the stage. And Trump? He disappeared again for stretches of time, but he brought Ike into the debate on his side on immigration. Fortunately for him, no one knows anything about Ike’s Operation Wetback.

Greg, thanks for doing this. It was fun. Hope you come back.

Greg Brophy

9:20 The CNBC moderators should be embarrassed. Cavuto, Bartiromo and Baker proved that you can ask hard and thoughtful questions and keep people’s interest.

Rubio had a great night.

Cruz and Carly did very well.

Rand had a good night. He needed it.

Bush is not up for this.

Kasich is not inspirational, but he’s solid – still my VP.

Trump’s showmanship is thin, but dang he’s good at it.

Carson truly doesn’t belong on the stage. Can we replace him with Grahamnesty?

9:14 Carly kills the close and Hillary in the process. Seriously, she needs a debate a week.

9:06 Climate change! Way to go Rand. “Obama is destroying my state. He’s also destroying the Democratic Party in my state.”

Mike Littwin

9:03 As if things weren’t going well enough for Rubio, he gets the softest softball of the night — basically, tell us all the things that are wrong with Hillary Clinton. But here’s the hard part, you only get a minute.

9:02 In Carly Fiorina’s world, it’s a bad thing when a government agency digs “through credit records to detect fraud.” It’s not only bad, it’s where socialism begins. Somehow.

Greg Brophy

8:59 I’m disappointed that none of these candidates truly understands the banking system.  Depositors are covered by FDIC. It’s the investors who will lose money if/when a bank fails.

8:55 Carly: Dodd-Frank is a perfect example of how socialism starts. Government creates a problem and then steps in to solve the problem they created.

8:51 Cruz to a question about whether he would let a big bank fail. Yes. Come on Cavuto, only the investors are out, depositors are covered by FDIC. I’m a great arm chair QB.

8:47 Yes, Mike, experience really shows in a debate with real questions.  Kudos to Fox and WSJ. Even if you don’t agree, you should be encouraged that five of these people really know what they are talking about.

There are four banks in America with over $1 trillion in assets – they need to be treated differently than First Pioneer in Wray – Greg Brophy (just my two cents) the next biggest after the four is under $400 billion.


Mike Littwin

8:45 Greg, we do agree that actual knowledge matters. I don’t agree with Rubio on much of his foreign policy, but I don’t have any question that he is educated on the issues and has given serious thought to them. Isn’t it clear to everyone that the Ben wants no part of that discussion? Give Trump credit for at least putting himself in the debate, even if he doesn’t belong in a Rubio-Kasich-Paul-Cruz discussion. Fiorina is wrong on Putin, but she, too, has studied.

And each answer from Carson ends with the moderator saying, “Just to be clear …”

Greg Brophy

8:42 Honestly, Jeb’s A game is just not up to snuff.  He’s like a quarterback that should have retired with the previous team.

8:40 This is some good stuff. The moderators are asking important questions. The candidates (most of them) are giving thoughtful answers.  Fox Business and WSJ are clear winners here. CNBC and NBC should be taking notes, but they are probably too dense and stuck in their echo chamber.

8:34 Rubio: They (the Islamists) hate us because our women drive cars and go to school.  Top that Hillary.

Mike Littwin

8:33 Trump: He and Putin were “stablemates.” Rubio: Putin is a “gangster.”

8:31 Why does she keep interrupting? Yep, he said it.

Greg Brophy

8:31 Trump gets booed for taking on Carly. “Why does she keep interrupting everybody?”

8:29 Carly is back in the game. Tough as nails. She really is good. Anyone who thinks there is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats is willfully ignoring this.

Mike Littwin

8:28 Ben, Ben, Ben, Ben. His foreign policy answer should get him voted off the panel.  On ISIS: He talked to some generals (not clear whether Gen. Westmoreland was one), who said we have to destroy their caliphate “in order to make them look like losers.” And it wouldn’t be that hard either.

Greg Brophy

8:25 Ok I get it, Trump is a populist on foreign policy.

Mike Littwin

8:19 So Trump is asked about TPP, which he opposes, and says in explanation that China is “the No. 1 abuser of this country.” And Paul — in his best moments of debate season — jumps in, noting that China not part of the TPP.

Greg Brophy

8:18 I think Littwin and I are seeing the same thing – experience and in-depth knowledge matters when there are serious questions.

8:15 Rand Paul is having his best debate. Carson is snoozing. I see the real value of genuine experience showing tonight.

Mike Littwin

8:14 Rand Paul made his play. He went after Marco Rubio on military spending – and was winning until Ted Cruz bailed Rubio out. This was maybe the most interesting part of the debate so far. Fiorina jumped in and showed again her debating skills. But somehow the moderators kept wanting to cut off the argument. At the end, Trump jumped in and showed once again that he can’t play at that level.

Greg Brophy

8:12 Trump opposes TPP. No one has read it. I’d rather not have it. Wants individual deals with individual countries. “We need smart people making the deals and we don’t have smart people making these deals.”

8:10 Baker v Kasitch to see who’s in charge. Baker wins

8:09 Trump agrees with Marco and Ted on a strong military.

8:07 It appears that Cruz is on Rubio’s side on defense and then he goes after Big Sugar.  Which he doesn’t understand, but that’s a different point.

Damn, Rubio talks to families.  Childcare is more expensive than college.  Millions of families understand this. And Rand goes after him on this. Can Rubio cover this attack? Pulls the ISIS card. China card. We can’t grow an economy if we aren’t safe. Dang, Rand Paul is really in this.

Mike Littwin

8:06 Going back to Trump and Ike: The Eisenhower program was called Operation Wetback. Yes, Operation Wetback. It was a shameful episode in American history.

Greg Brophy

8:02 Again, Jeb is all in.  He’s doing his best. Somewhat animated, kinda funny (Reagan Love is a pretty great name). I just don’t see him catching fire in the polls.

8:00 These candidates are for real tax reform, change if you will. They are mostly young and exciting and the Dem candidates are for higher taxes, the old way, and are, ah-hem, kinda old and boring.  Bring on 2016! I love our chances to win.

Mike Littwin

7:58 I just noticed that the Ben is having his best debate. Bad debates got him to the top. I wonder what this one will do to his polling numbers. (And is he really for getting rid of mortgage deductions and charitable deductions?)

Greg Brophy

7:56 Tax rate question and then let’s throw in God.

Carson: It’s about proportionality. Flat rates. Get rid of deductions.  We had homeownership and charitable giving before the tax code; we will have more on my plan.

Rand Paul is a baby.  Thanks for including me in the tax debate.

Mike Littwin

7:52 Poor Jeb! (again). He can’t seem to break through. Does anyone remember anything he’s said?

Greg Brophy

7:51 What you miss at the debates is the commercials between.  This Benghazi movie commercial is powerful. 13 Hours.

7:47 Carly: Obamacare is crony capitalism at its worst! Written by pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies. We need to try the free market were people have to compete.

I know more about innovation than anyone on this panel.  The secret sauce of America is innovation.

She needs a debate every week

Mike Littwin

7:46 I’m starting to think the room is not quite as conservative as the GOP base. Or as my friend Brophy.

Greg Brophy

7:43 These moderators are asking real questions.

Cruz: I’m the son of an immigrant, we need immigration.

Cruz sees immigration as an economic issue.  The press would see this differently if journalists were coming in and driving down wages in the press! Boom, he’s good.

7:42 I’m telling you Rubio elevates the debate.  No attacks. He seeks to inspire. I wonder if that will work?

Mike Littwin

7:42 Is everyone satisfied that Trump has it right on Ike? Please, someone out there do the Google.

Greg Brophy

7:40 Rubio: It took the telephone a hundred years to get a 100 million users. It took Candy Crush one year

7:37 Trump gets booed by the crowd.

7:35 Kasich takes the opposite approach on deportation: We can’t do that with 11 million people.  That’s a silly argument. Bartiromo: Can we deport five million people? Trump, we have to.  Hopefully they can come back.

7:34 Trump on the court getting executive amnesty right – that was a good decision.  We need more good decisions. It was a terrific thing that happened.  We need borders. We need a wall. Walls work, don’t believe me, look at Israel.

Mike Littwin

7:33 The Ben answers the question about whether he embellished his life story by calling Hillary Clinton a liar. Surprisingly, that didn’t seem to work.

Greg Brophy

7:32 Cavuto asks Carson about the media treatment and trust in the best way possible and Carson responds with humor and grace. Bam – then he nails Clinton for lying. That’s different than misinterpreting.

Mike Littwin

7:31 Great line – by Brophy on Bush’s A game being more like a B. I’d say a gentleman’s C, or was that his brother?

Greg Brophy

7:26 Rand Paul on income inequality. It’s a problem everywhere Democrats are in charge. And of course the Fed makes it worse. If you want less income inequality move to a GOP state.

7:24 Carly! Almost forgot she was here. Then, she nails it. Zero based budgeting, 3 page tax code, pass REINS Act, hold governemnt accountable

7:21 Jeb brought his A game. It’s kind of a B game, but better than we’ve seen

Mike Littwin

7:20 So this time Kasich walks over Jeb! Is there anyone left?

Greg Brophy

7:19 Regulators are like locusts – Cruz And Kasich and Bush fighting. Not sure that matters

7:17 I’m positive that John Harwood and Becky Quick are now curled up in the fetal position and sucking their thumbs. Way to go Bartiromo and Cavuto.

Mike Littwin

7:17 Rubio: Welders > philosophers. Who disagrees with that? And they get paid better.

Greg Brophy

7:13 Rubio’s case for the American Dream and against raising the minimum wage is the best I’ve heard.  More welders and less philosophers.

Mike Littwin

7:10 Just to be clear, what was the Ben talking about? Whatever it was, the crowd seems to love it, which is why no one is going to touch him.

Greg Brophy

7:09 Carson only 18.9% of black teenagers have a job.   This is starting off at a depth never achieved two weeks ago.  Discussing how the minimum wage hurts beginning workers

7:07 Okay, so it’s established that this is going to be serious.  Way to go Cavuto

Mike Littwin

7:06 Did Rubio get the biggest cheer?

Greg Brophy

7:04 Holy cow Trump almost smiled

Mike Littwin

6:53 Hey, I missed Graham, too. He’s funny. He’s sharp. And he answers the questions. But what I won’t miss is any more kiddie debates. It’s really time to shut them down. Bobby Jindal thought the idea was to beat Chris Christie, who’s polling at around 2 percent. Christie was debating Hillary Clinton. He beat her, but I wonder how he would have done if she’d been there. Huck did a wife joke. And Santorum forgot to mention that he lost his last senatorial run by 17 points.

I am pumped for the main event. I want to see if/how anyone takes on The Ben. It’s time.

Greg Brophy

6:22 Thinking about the main stage while watching the happy hour debate.  I do miss Lindsey Graham.  I don’t care for his politics, but he’s funny as heck and exceptionally knowledgeable on foreign policy.  If I hand picked candidates for the big stage he would be on it for those two reasons.

I rather doubt that any of these guys climb back onto the main stage.  Unless the RNC shifts the criteria to focus on polling in early states.

We found out in the last debate that the one thing that unifies Republicans is their anger toward and distrust of the MSM.  I’m sure there will be a desire on the part of the candidates to find that mojo again and on the part of the moderators to make sure they don’t become part of the story.

With only eight instead of ten on the stage, smart actors will get a smidgen more time tonight.

Will Trump come out of his slump tonight?  He was flat in the last debate.  He has defied the laws of political gravity for longer than anyone thought possible.  I don’t recall seeing a person hold front-runner status for this long, this early, on the GOP side.  There are so many forces that line up against the front runner and only a handful of defenders; the latter changes when the person is the presumptive nominee.

Can Carson come out of his shell?  Perhaps the new media attention will animate him.  I suspect that the other candidates, ex Trump, will come to his defense.

I expect Rubio to shine again.  Bush needs to take him down to win Florida; he’s running out of chances.  Marco is in exactly the position he wants; he’s not taking all the media flack for being up front, but he’s close enough to be in the sweet spot at the right time.

Cruz knows he performed well last time and he will try to do so again.  He’s most likely the one to attack the moderators on behalf of Carson.

Carly is really in a perform or pack up position.  She’s managed to shine every other time and with fewer people on the stage she’ll have more time to do so again tonight.

Jeb, well, do or die? It’s already too late, maybe he and Rand can enjoy the holidays together.  And Kasich (my fav for VP) will be flailing around on the edge of the stage.

This GOP primary stuff is hard for homers like me.  I don’t want to fall in love with any of them, because to me it’s like Game of Thrones: Don’t latch on to any one of them because they are all going to die.

Mike, I look forward to reading your snark tonight and trying to give the readers something to balance your views. Mike disagrees with me on almost every issue. He is proof you can be brilliant and wrong at the same time.

Mike Littwin


Sadly, we must assume that the Fox Business Network moderators will act like adults and won’t ask Jeb! or anyone else the baby Hitler/time-machine question, but that doesn’t mean tonight’s GOP debate won’t be worth watching.

There is, as ever, so much on the line. If you recall, just before Debate III, all the pundits, including this one, were certain that Jeb! had to either step up or step back.

Well, he stepped way back and now, going into Debate IV, he’s in fingertips-on-the-cliff’s-edge territory.

Sure, Jeb! would kill baby Hitler, but will he have the guts to kill off his campaign if he has another disastrous night?

Speaking of which, the Fox Business moderators have nearly as much on the line as any candidate. They have to ask tough questions without being snarky, which is harder than you think. I mean, can you really ask The Donald about his platform without bringing up comic books? We’ll see.

What else will we see? So many issues – the immigration ruling, the Russian jet, the Missouri activists, the media, the war on Christmas as played in Starbucks (bring your own guns!).

We’ll definitely see some sort of Jeb! vs. Marco. According to The Times, Jeb!’s team is thinking of going after Rubio for being too hard line — no exceptions — on abortion, and I’m thinking, there go the fingernails. Presumably the moderators will ask Rubio about his personal finances. Let’s see if they have any better luck.

What about the Ben? We’ve reached a critical stage in the campaign. Carson had his pyramid/West Point/cousin-stabbing vetting week, in which he blamed the liberal media for picking on him. Here’s the thing: Carson won the week, at least with his supporters, and don’t be surprised if this week he reveals the truth behind the Washington Monument. And the Donald, who has slipped a bit in the polls, hasn’t slipped very much. What I’m saying is, it’s time to admit that it’s just possible that one of these guys could actually win the nomination. OK, I’ve said it. I didn’t say it was likely. I said it was possible.

In other news, Chris Christie is at the kiddies’ table where being loud and obnoxious is expected. Lindsey Graham didn’t even make the cut for the undercard, so there will be many fewer jokes. It could be Rand Paul’s last debate. Just sayin’.

Oh, and Rubio will win because he’s young and slick and he’s not Jeb!

One more thing, I’ll be joined in blogging world tonight by Greg Brophy, my old friend with whom I disagree on nearly everything except that we go back, way back, and always will.


Photo credit: DonkeyHotey, Creative Commons, Flickr

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