The Republican candidates were angry about many things during this debate, including the debate itself.
The third Republican presidential debate could likely be summed up with one word: anger.
Candidates on stage expressed outrage at a number of issues, ranging from the frontrunners — who some thought did not deserve to be in the White House, being called out for missing Senate votes, the media in general, the moderators of the debate, and the debate specifically. Only Ben Carson, known for his even tone and inability to raise his voice, was the lone candidate that seemingly did not express anger at any of the issues brought up.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who has been struggling to step out in the national discussion as the more established voice, started the night off with his anger at what he considered the deterioration of Republican values.
“We are on the verge of electing someone who cannot do this job,” Kasich said. He talked about tax plans and other proposals that don’t make sense.
When asked about who he was referring to, Kasich alluded to plans proposed by Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the top two candidates in recent polls. This prompted Trump to flash his typical anger and jabbing usually reserved for Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
“This is the man who was the managing general partner when at Lehman Brothers. I was there and watched what happened. He was so nice. He was such a nice guy. But then his poll numbers tanked. And he got nasty,” Trump said.
Trump was then pressed about his campaign, with one moderator asking if the people were watching a “comic book version of a campaign?” He started off calm, talking about the financial reasons for his tax plan, which some economists have said would cost the American government $8 trillion over the next decade, before raising his voice and getting into his traditional rhetoric.
“Then you have to get rid of Larry Kudlow, who sits on your panel, is a great guy, and says he loves my tax plan,” Trump said, when confronted with the statement that economists said his tax plan doesn’t work.
Carson tried to return the tone down when asked about his tax plan, not raising his voice when pressed by the panel over criticism that his plan would not work unless the rate was raised to 28 percent. But it did not last long as Kasich came in with his loud and angry tone.
“I’m the only person on the stage that was actually involved with the chief architect in balancing the federal budget,” he said. “You just don’t make promises like this. Why don’t we just give a chicken in every pot?”
Cruz took his time attacking the media when asked about the impending Senate vote to raise the debt limit.
“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the Americans don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match,” he said to raucous applause. “How about talking about the substantive issues that the people care about?”
Cruz then continued, blasting the way moderators heaped softball questions on the Democratic candidates during their debate two weeks earlier and yet have nasty questions that avoid substance during the Republican versions.
“And nobody watching at home believes any of the moderators have any intention of voting in the Republican primary,” Cruz said. A verbal scrum then broke out between moderator Carl Quintanilla and Cruz over the issue of bias in the media as Quintanilla pointed out Cruz was asked a substance question and decided to talk about media bias instead.
There was a lot more substance in this debate than the previous two, though. Cruz was able to discuss his flat tax plan, where a family of four pays nothing up to $36,000, saying that no hedge fund manager would less than his secretary. His plan also included a flat 16 percent tax on business and touted the Tax Foundation had rated his plan as generating 4.9 million jobs and raising wages 12 percent while costing less than $1 trillion, $9 trillion less than Trump’s plan.
Fiorina then chimed in that these plans seem great, but “how long have we been talking about Tax reform in DC? We’ve been talking about it for decades.” She then went on to state that there have been thousands of changes in the previous decade while the problem never gets resolved.
“We need a leader in Washington who understands how to get it done,” Fiorina said, with an allusion to her three-page plan to level the playing field. She clarified that the playing field is uneven now because the wealthy Americans can hire lawyers and lobbyists to help them understand the tax code and get the best deal possible while millions of Americans are struggling to save every penny.
The anger returned later on when Rubio was asked about his youth and his missing Senate votes while running for president, with John Harwood asking if he should wait his turn.
“Wait for what? This country’s running out of time!” Rubio exclaimed. “They say there is no bipartisanship in Washington? We have a $19 trillion bipartisan debt.”
When pressed about the Florida editorials demanding Rubio resign since he is missing so many votes while running for the White House, the Florida senator responded that Democratic candidates such as John Kerry and Barack Obama missed more than 60 percent of their votes and yet the same papers, specifically the Sun-Sentinel, endorsed their campaigns for president.
“(This editorial) represents the bias in media,” Rubio said as the debate audience applauded.
Running an hour less than the CNN debate in September, the CNBC debate was filled with a lot of rushed answers and interruptions by moderators when candidates were speaking. Christie, working to get his two cents in at every shot, filled his response time with rhetoric to prove his point, such as “the government has lied to you and they have stolen from you,” when discussing Social Security.
He continued by saying the government has promised their Social Security funds are in a trust fund but all that is there “is a bunch of IOUs.”
“What Hillary Clinton is going to say, and she has before, is that she’s going to raise Social Security taxes,” Christie continued, focusing his anger on the Democratic frontrunner, saying that it makes no sense to trust the people who have stolen from the people already. “We need to get realistic about this.”
As the discussion switched to government subsidies for energy and other programs, Carson did one thing that was unusual for a politician: he admitted he was wrong. When he was confronted with blasting government subsidies and then later recommended oil subsidies should be shifted to ethanol, Carson admitted that he was wrong for making that recommendation after researching more about the issue.
The moderators were able to control most of the debate until nearly the end when the candidates stopped listening to the moderators moving the topics and the candidates wanted to talk about the issues. Paul criticized the moderators for ignoring his input on tax plans when several candidates were able to talk about their plans while his plan remained untouched. When he got his 30 seconds in, Cruz took time without waiting for moderators to recognize him and praise Paul’s plan.
One of the biggest surprises was not in what happened but did not happen. Jeb Bush was not able to make the splash he was supposed to make to ease concerns from bundlers and other big donors supporting his campaign. For large sections, the former Florida governor who was once christened as the establishment choice found himself on the outs, getting blasted by Rubio for criticizing the senator’s absence and not getting to speak for large sections of the debate.
Meanwhile, Rubio stood out with his answers that generated large applause from the debate audience and responses to criticism that analysts thought would plague his campaign, especially his voting record.
At the end of the debate, when confronted with his lie that he never attacked Zuckerberg and Rubio over immigration, Trump muddled his answer saying he was in favor of all legal immigration despite criticizing H1-B visas.
There were many boos for the question selection during the debate, especially when candidates were asked to attack other candidates on the stage. When pressed about associations between Carson and a multi-nutritional company, Carson stated that he had no relationship with him and was pushed back by Harwood who said that it appeared he did, prompting boos over the neurosurgeon’s insistence that there was none.
Christie had his biggest moment blasting the moderators regarding one question over fantasy football saying “Wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt, people out of work, ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?”
It was a continuation of problems for CNBC with the debate, as Republican candidates have been critical of the event for several weeks. Carson and Trump threatened to pull out of the debate after it was told that the candidates would not get closing statements. Then, the night before the debate, there was large criticism from other candidates at the size of the greenrooms for the higher-polled candidates, such as the Jacuzzi for Fiornia and the spacious suites for Rubio, Carson and Trump.