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Presidential Debates Catchup 

David Brown, Lions Eye Staff Editor, dvb5451@psu.edu, updated by the Lion’s Eye Web Staff

The next President of the United States has been busy debating and campaigning all over the country and only you, the American people, can decide who that person is.

Eleven of the GOP’s top presidential candidates took the stage during the first “top tier” GOP debate on August 6 after the “lower tier” debate (lower polled candidates) hosted by Fox News. Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, advisor for Senator John McCain’s 2008 election, and former Republican nominee for the United States Senate in California, was the one most mentioned. At the conclusion, Fiorina was reported to have had a strong evening and was praised as being very prepared and informed throughout the debate. Fiorina’s strong performance bumped her up in the polls and landed her a spot with the popular candidates for the second debate.

The August 6 debate was moderated by Fox anchors, Megyn Kelly, Brett Baier, and Chris Wallace. Donald Trump received a lot of press going into the debate and did not disappoint. Trump got under the skin of his opponents and riled up the audience as well. With Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again,” he caught the attention of voters, and his bold pronouncements about how he would handle immigration and the economy, gave him a lead in the polls, which he still holds.

Other candidates that night included Ted Cruz, a senator from Texas and former domestic policy advisor to George W. Bush. Cruz, although qualified, did not rise up to his opponents.

The youngest candidate in the presidential race is 44-year old Marco Rubio. The media agreed that Rubio, a senator from Florida, showed “promise.” Rubio, who acquired his wealth through his own determination, had rebuttals toward opponents and was touted as a very serious contender for the Republican nominee.

Other notable GOP candidates include Dr. Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Florida Governor, Jeb Bush.

The Fox debate was the most watched Presidential debate in history with 24 million viewers.

The second GOP debate was hosted by CNN at the Ronald Regan Presidential Library on September 16.

Once again Republican poll leader, Donald Trump, lead the pack with his unusual comments and managed to overtake the other candidates. Trump led talking time with a total of 20 minutes; Bush with 15 minutes; Fiorina with 13 minutes; and Carson with 12 minutes. This debate, like the first one, was very tense with Trump and Bush sparring all night about past remarks, and policy disagreements.

Trump seemed to thrive on accusations and turned them to his advantage. This appeared to make Bush struggle, and he did not gain ground.

Fiorina remained calm, yet knowledgeable, addressing questions and showing emotion during some of her responses. Her popularity earned her an invitation on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon where she continued to gain support.

Ben Carson was determined to get involved during this debate after being critiqued for his apparent low energy. He did so by showing good sense on the issues.

Cruz, Rubio and Christie all gained popularity by securing a good amount of talking time, and they made few mistakes. This debate was mainly focused on immigration and Planned Parenthood.

Nearly 3 months later, the first Democratic debate debuted on October 13, hosted by CNN. The only two candidates of the four making a showing in the polls were Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

The CNN moderators seemed to stick to the issues focusing on the Benghazi committee, Planned Parenthood, and Black Lives Matter.

Sanders scored big with his perceived support of frontrunner Clinton’s email scandal saying, “I’m tired of hearing about your damn email.” The audience laughed and applauded. When the moderators asked the candidates what the biggest threat to the Nation was Sanders said, “The scientific community is telling us that if we do not address the global crisis of climate change and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable.” This earned him more applause. The other candidates talked about the Middle East or China’s cyber warfare.

Clinton had some big moments while defending her stance on the Benghazi Committee stating that, “it is an arm of the Republican committee.” Clinton chaffed when Governor Chafee compared her credibility for President to the recent email scandal she faces. When asked if she would like to respond Clinton jokingly said, “No.”

No clear winner emerged from the Democratic debate. Polls showed Sanders gained policy recognition and earned a reputation for passion. Clinton went for the safe route. As the front-runner she did a good job at deflecting negative comments. It will be interesting to see the next Democratic debate and if Clinton or Sanders take more shots at each other or stick to their last performance.

The third Republican debate was hosted by CNBC on October 28. This debate caused commotion due to remarks made by the candidates and moderators. CNBC is a business network, making the expectations for the debate to be mainly economy-based. The moderators, however, did ask a variety of questions that got the candidates, and sometimes the crowd, riled up.

Throughout the debate, audience members “booed” the moderators when they asked certain questions based about the candidates morals. Both the moderators and Jeb Bush put Marco Rubio on the spot during the debate. Bush asked him why he doesn’t wait to run for president until he is finished in the Senate. “Someone convinced you that attacking me would help you,” rebutted Rubio—referring to Bush’s low poll numbers.

After the debate Republican candidates complained about the “bias” the moderators portrayed and expressed displeasure of the “gotcha’ questions and statements.

Fox Business in Milwaukee, Wisconsin hosted the fourth Republican debate on Tuesday, November 10. This debate was the most informative on the candidates’ economic plans and immigration policy. The debate, by media standards, was the best Republican debate because of the consistent informative statements and rebuttals. Every candidate secured a lot of talking time and the moderators split the questions up appropriately.

Some of the big moments during the debate came from a dispute between Rubio and Senator Rand Paul. The argument was about Rubio’s plan for bigger military spending and how it was not “conservative” in Paul’s eyes because of the large amount of money Rubio was proposing. During the timely argument, Cruz barged in saying, “There is room for both sides on this argument.” This comment was revealed to be a big moment for Cruz among voters.

The road to the next presidential election promises to provide lots of room for thought and maybe some laughs. Be sure to pay attention so you can make an informed vote in 2016.

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