Republican hopefuls talk immigration, economy in first GOP debate

“The new normal of two percent (growth) that the left is saying you can't do anything about is so dangerous for our country,” former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said. “We've created rules and taxes on top of every aspiration of people, and the net result is

One day after the first primary Republican debate, Donald Trump, who received more airtime than any other candidate, proved to be a presidential contender. The top ten Republican candidates, as determined through five polls, debated live yesterday on Fox News at 8 p.m. central time in Cleveland, Ohio.

In order of positioning at the polls, the debate featured Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Ohio Governor John Kasich. The remaining seven candidates debated at 4 p.m. central time.

In a related Bloomberg poll, Trump outshined the other canidates with 21 percent of voters’ support.

MU professor of political communication Mitchell McKinney said in a news release that perhaps the debate’s real winner was Hilary Clinton.

“Interestingly, the leading Republican candidates were much more aggressive in taking on the incumbent president than their attacks directed toward the Democratic frontrunner,” McKinney said a news release.

To begin the questions, all men were asked whether they would take a pledge to support the Republican party regardless of the nominee and to not run an independent campaign against the Republican nominee. All candidates agreed to the pledge except Trump, who only pledged to support the party if he were its nominee.

“If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent,” Trump said. “But — and I am discussing it with everybody — but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican.”

After discussing eligibility, the moderators, including Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace, moved on to the first political topic of the night, immigration. Trump, who has recently been under fire for comments regarding illegal immigrants, was questioned on what evidence he has that Mexico is sending criminals across the border.

“Mr. Trump didn’t seem to shy away from his previous positions and bold pronouncements; he appeared to survive this first debate with his frontrunner status intact,” McKinney said in a news release.

When asked to provide proof regarding these statements, Trump said he’s talked to border control who claim that’s what’s happening.

“(It’s) because our leaders are stupid,” Trump said. “Our politicians are stupid. And the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning. And they send the bad ones over because they don’t want to pay for them.”

Bush, Trump, Kasich and Rubio all said border control must be stronger, but some noted underlying issues.

“I also believe we need a fence,” Rubio said. “The problem is if El Chapo builds a tunnel under the fence, we have to be able to deal with that too. And that’s why you need an e-verify system and you need an entry-exit tracking system and all sorts of other things to prevent illegal immigration.”

With recent concerns regarding ISIS and the Middle East, the country’s defence was also at the center of much of the Republicans’ conversations. Christie, who was the U.S. attorney during 9/11, said he was the only candidate who investigated, prosecuted and jailed terrorists after the attack.

“The first thing we need to do to make America stronger is to strengthen our military, and I put out a really specific plan: no less than 500,000 active duty soldiers in the Army, no less than 185,000 active duty marines in the Marine Corps,” Christie said. “Bring us to a 350-ship Navy again, and modernize the Ohio class of submarines, and bring our Air Force back to 2,600 aircraft that are ready to go.”

On the topic of the economy, Bush was questioned by Wallace on the realism of his promise to grow the economy by four percent and create 19 million new jobs if privileged to serve two terms. Wallace said the growth Bush hopes for is triple what his father and brother achieved together as presidents.

“The new normal of two percent that the left is saying you can't do anything about is so dangerous for our country,” Bush said. “... A four percent growth strategy means you fix a convoluted tax code. You get in and you change every aspect of regulations that are job killers.”

Regarding Bush’s demeanor, McKinney said voters may want a more energetic and aggressive personality.

“Jeb Bush’s debate performance this evening was rather ‘low key’ at times, almost too relaxed to the point of being diminished by the much more aggressive Trump who was standing next to Bush,” McKinney said in a news release.

Social issues were also briefly discussed, including Planned Parenthood funding and same-sex marriage.

“A lot of people are talking about defunding Planned Parenthood, as if that’s a huge game changer,” Huckabee said. “I think it’s time to do something even more bold. I think the next president ought to invoke the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution now that we clearly know that that baby inside the mother’s womb is a person at the moment of conception. The reason we know that it is is because of the (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) schedule that we now have clear scientific evidence on.”

When Kelly asked Kasich about his theoretical response to his daughter coming out as lesbian, Kasich said he accepts the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage.

“I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who happens to be gay,” Kasich said. “Because somebody doesn’t think the way I do, doesn’t mean that I can’t care about them or can’t love them. So if one of my daughters happened to be that, of course I would love them and I would accept them. Because you know what? That’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.” Candidates did not discuss their plans for college tuition or student loans.

Republicans are set to debate again on Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, and Democratic candidates will have their first debate on Oct. 13 in Nevada.

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