MU students react to second GOP debate

In the wake of the second televised GOP debate, MU students share their comments and criticism.

On Sept. 16, the top 11 Republican presidential candidates gathered at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, for the second televised debate of the 2016 election cycle.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former CEO Carly Fiorina, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurologist Ben Carson and businessman Donald Trump weighed in on topics ranging from foreign policy and economic plans to domestic issues during the broadcast on CNN from 7 to 10 p.m.


Candidates answered economic-related questions, mostly keeping to traditional answers of lower taxes and less spending, with the exception of Trump.

“I know people making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes, and it's not fair,” Trump said.

Minimum wage was a contentious issue brought up, with moderator Jake Tapper noting Carson’s criticism of Walker’s previous stance against raising the federal minimum wage. Walker took issue with the criticism and declared his intention to raise workers above the need for the minimum wage.

“The answer is to give people the skills and the education so they make far more than minimum wage,” Walker said.

Carson countered with his own proposal, seeking to “accomplish the goals of granting full-time workers the means of self-sufficiency while ensuring part-time and low-skill workers remain competitive.”

“I think we also have to have two minimum wages: a starter and a sustaining (wage),” Carson said. “How are young people ever going to get a job if you have such a high minimum wage that it makes it impractical to hire them?”

Social Issues

Nearly every candidate vowed to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood if elected.

Fiorina slammed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama for supporting Planned Parenthood in light of the recent videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood workers discussing selling fetal tissue.

“This is about the character of our nation,” Fiorina said. “And if we will not stand up in and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.”

Foreign Policy

A large chunk of the debate revolved around foreign policy issues, specifically the nuclear agreement with Iran. Nearly every candidate disavowed the treaty and promised to repeal it if elected.

“If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal,” Cruz said.

Huckabee said that while Obama regards the treaty as “The Magna Carta,” the Iranians “treat it like toilet paper.”

Only Kasich dissented, arguing that the international consensus would be against the U.S. if the treaty was ignored.

“We are stronger when we work with the Western civilization, our friends in Europe and just doing it on our own I don't think is the right policy,” Kasich said.


While always a point of discussion among the candidates, the conversation around immigration took a turn this summer after Trump’s controversial announcement speech wherein he accused undocumented immigrants of being criminals.

Trump stood by his previous positions during the debate. While laying out his immigration proposal, Trump said, “Step one is building a wall.”

Bush criticized Trump for the infeasibility of his plan. He said it would cost the U.S., not the just in terms of money, but also in terms of credibility and soft power.

“To build a wall and to deport people … would cost hundreds of billions of dollars,” Bush said. “And it would send a signal to the rest of the world that the United States values that are so important for our long-term success no longer matter in this country.”

Domestic Issues

Drugs and the legalization of marijuana were divisive topics, particularly in light of Colorado’s legalization of recreational use.

“I buried a child to drug addiction,” Fiorina said. “We need to tell young people the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic, and it is taking too many of our young people.”

Christie took issue with Paul’s portrayal of recreational drug use as a victimless crime and talked about the costs to society of drug use.

“Look at the decrease in productivity,” Christie said. “Their families are the victims too … That's why I'll enforce the federal law.”

Student Perspectives

Freshman Andrew Pilewski criticized the media coverage of the debate and election in general as too “Trump-centric.”

“I don’t think it’s really conducive to journalism’s duty to the democratic process if it’s centered on one candidate just for ratings,” Pilewski said.

For some MU students, Fiorina was the debate’s winner. The former Hewlett-Packard CEO’s previous electoral exploits include an advising position on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 campaign and a failed run for U.S. Senate in California in 2010.

Freshman Regina Anderson praised Fiorina’s demeanor.

“(Fiorina) was really well composed,” Anderson said. “She speaks well.”

The next Republican debate will be aired at Oct. 28 on CNBC. The first Democratic debate will be aired Oct. 13 on CNN.

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