In the primaries, Republicans are only able to tarnish Donald Trump’s image somewhat. They have no real alternative to him.
The problem Republicans have isn’t Donald Trump. In Wednesday evening’s debate, CNN moderator Jake Tapper declared open season on the nonchalant entrepreneur, and it was a welcome invitation. The other 10 candidates on the stage accepted the invitation in various ways, and at the end, Donald Trump emerged obviously looking somewhat worse for the wear.
Then, Ben Carson, still in second place prior to the debate, patiently explained that vaccination of infants did not cause the “autism epidemic,” to which Trump had earlier referred. An obviously self-satisfied Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, reminded the audience of Trump’s donations meant to aid the casino business in his state. And the man who dominated the first debate with his misogynistic statements paled visibly when former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina coolly declared, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”
Her response to Trump’s claim that he hadn’t disparaged her personal appearance echoed throughout the Reagan Arena in Simi Valley. Carly Fiorina was seen as the clear victor in their exchange, and that’s where the real problems begin.
Even in a Thinned-Out Field of Hopefuls, the Republicans Still Have No Truly Viable Candidate
Fiorina dominated the men’s round with clear plans instead of vague pronouncements. Among other things, she said: “What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic States. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany.”
Alongside Trump the entrepreneur and Carson the neurosurgeon, now comes CEO Carly Fiorina as the Republican Party’s latest star in its firmament. Even with this pared down field, they still have no strong candidate. Jeb Bush wasn’t overwhelmed in this crowd of 11, but that’s the best that can be said for him. Marco Rubio, the embattled senator, bravely struggles to stay afloat as do Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio, but one who could best the three outsiders and bring some expertise and political realism into the debate has yet to make an appearance.
Donald Trump doesn’t want to burden himself with political realities. Ben Carson isn’t known for his political record. Carly Fiorina puts aggressive performance before pragmatic expertise, on stage as well as in her political style.
That about sums up what the GOP has to offer currently for the White House, and it’s not enough.