warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

ICYMI: The Fourth GOP Debate

Razzan Nakwhali |
November 11, 2015 | 12:41 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Former Gov. Jeb Bush made a stronger showing in this debate.(Creative Commons)
Former Gov. Jeb Bush made a stronger showing in this debate.(Creative Commons)
Last night, the top eight GOP candidates took the stage (yet again) at the Milwaukee Theatre in Wisconsin for their party’s fourth primary debate of the 2016 campaign. The venue is known for the infamous 1912 speech that Teddy Roosevelt gave immediately after being shot in the chest in a failed assassination. Tuesday evening’s affairs were much less historically relevant; instead, Fox Business Network took to the reigns for moderation, which was provided by FBN anchors Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo, and the Wall Street Journal’s Gerard Baker.

Hosted a brief twelve days after the last GOP debate, Tuesday’s event raised questions of coverage oversaturation by the media.

Fox Business Network hosted this debate more modestly than their predecessor, CNBC. The Republican National Committee blasted CNBC for poor moderation of the third debate, and media outlets have attempted to placate the GOP candidates by shortening the event format to two hours.

SEE MORE: CNBC Moderators Lose The Third GOP Debate

Yet, the media cajolery was overridden by the high bar set for the debates. Both Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee were not present during the mainstage debate, as both failed to ascend the 2.5% polling threshold. George Pataki and Lindsey Graham had been shunted out of the limelight completely, failing to even make the JV debate.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush managed to rescue a swamped campaign, letting the donors of his $100 million Super-PAC (the largest in history) finally exhale for the first time in two weeks. Throughout the debate, he glossed over recent shadow-boxing with fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, and instead chose to decimate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s fiscal policy: “[her approach] is more top-down, more taxes, more government, and will destroy our economy.”

Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio held strong to their elevated positions from the previous debate. Policy clarification and sensible answers strengthened their positions as contenders in the race for a Republican candidate. Florida Sen. Rubio was rather fortunately selected to make a case against potential Democratic nominee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, “If I am the nominee, we will be the party of the 21st century.”

The Hillary-hate was at full flow during the event, as media professionals had to type in ‘StopHillary’ to access WiFi at the Milwaukee Theatre.

SEE MORE: Twitter On Fire During Third Republican Debate

Immigration was the great divider of the evening, separating the immigration-reform moderates, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Bush, from the radicalists.

Trump’s plan to deport undocumented immigrants came under fire from Kasich for its quixotic nature, “You can’t pick them up and ship them across the border…It’s a silly argument.”

Gov. Bush chimed in, “They’re doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign when they hear this,” referring to Trump’s alienation of Hispanic and Latino voters. A primary concern during the debate was that strong anti-immigration rhetoric would drive voters to the Democratic party.

Frontrunner and neurosurgeon, Ben Carson, got relatively delicate treatment from both moderators and candidates, who appeared to dodge the recent accusations of the fabrication of his stirring life story. He blamed the media for misconstruing his claims, “I have no problem with being vetted,” but instead did not want to be lied about in the media. Which of course drew loud applause from the audience.

It seems not much has changed since the last debate (shocker), apart from the depreciation of Trump-Mania, and a solidification of Cruz’ and Rubio’s positions as contenders. Hopefully the candidates will have more time to reflect on their campaigns, with the next debate over a month away, scheduled for Tuesday, December 15. More importantly, this longer intermission may give the public a break from constant coverage, and reinvigorate the conversation heading into 2016.

Reach contributor Razzan Nakhlawi here or follow her Twitter.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.