Saturday night was fight night for the remaining Republican candidates for President. Saturday night, in South Carolina, the remaining Republican candidates met for the only debate that will take place before the primary vote in that state on February 20th and to say it was a lively discussion or debate is an understatement. As predicted, Donald Trump as the front runner was the center of contention for the other candidates but there was plenty of animosity to go around.
The evening started on a somber note with a moment of silence for United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia who was found dead at a Texas resort. Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa. Scalia served on the high court since 1986 when appointed by President Ronald Reagan.
The candidates pounced on the question as to whether President Obama should be allowed to appoint a new justice when the President is in the last year of his Presidency. All six said the responsibility to fill his vacancy on the highest court should fall to the next president. Donald Trump said in simple terms that admitted he would nominate a successor if he were in Obama’s position, said he hopes Senate Republican leaders block any Obama nominee. “It’s up to Mitch McConnell to stop it,” Trump said of the Senate majority leader on blocking an Obama Supreme Court nominee. “It’s called delay, delay, delay.”
Trump was on the hot seat for the debate as those who want to replace him as the front runner took turns attacking Trump’s policies, temperament and in their opinion lack of experience to lead the United States. The only candidate who tried to raise above the muck was Governor John Kasich who commented that “I think we’re fixing to lose the election to Hillary Clinton if we don’t stop this.”
The infighting was just starting as it was a night of one liners, insults and finger pointing. One particular moment was cringe worthy as Senator Marco Rubio, (FL) and Senator Ted Cruz, (TX) exchanged insults of who spoke Spanish better. It became a Spanish-off contest with both becoming losers in the minds of those watching the debate. Rubio accused Cruz of not being to understand an interview on “Univision because he (Cruz) doesn’t speak Spanish” to which Cruz replied in Spanish to Rubio. If there are lowlights to a debate this was the moment.
Trump came out ready to rumble and fight he did. He took Florida former Governor Jeb Bush to the woodshed over his brother’s, President G.W. Bush, decision to go into the Iraq War after it was proven there were “No weapons of mass destruction” and Trump hit hard on the fact that while on President Bush’s watch, ““The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.” All Bush counted back, ““sick and tired of [Trump] going after my family.” While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe,” he said. “I’m proud of what he did.” Rubio also jumped in to defend President Bush but Trump’s was not to be contained on the subject. On the subject to of President Bush and if he should have been impeached for the non-weapons of mass destruction problem, Trump said that there were “lies” that in his view led up to the war in Iraq. “You call it whatever you want,” Trump said. “They lied.” Whether the cantankerous volley of insults from most of the candidates have any effect on voters won’t be known until the next primary on February 20th.