Last night I watched the Republican candidates debate on CNN. I was at work, which made it easier, on one hand, because I could cut through the boredom of waiting for the bell to ring by keeping an eye on the events as they made their way across the TV screen in the firehouse’s common area. And I have to say that I’m not sure if I was amused, entertained, unnerved, or disgusted with most of what I saw. Some of it was actually thought-provoking, but not too much. Mainly, it gave me an opportunity to form some opinions about the people who are running for President on the Republican side of the race.
These are my opinions. And they are only that: opinions. I’m listing the candidates in no particular order, and I am not listing all of them, mainly because I’ve lost count, for the most part, as to who is running. There are many who I have no doubt will disagree about much of what I have to say. But I’m okay with that. Come what may, I have little doubt that this is going to be quite fluid over the next few months, especially once the New Year comes.
First, Jeb Bush: face it: he’s a member of the Bush family. There is considerable name recognition there. But he hasn’t done particularly well in polls or in debates. Last night, however, he did a little better than I personally expected. He did have some good give and take with others, especially Donald Trump. And he was a little more fired up than I’d seen him. Overall, not bad.
Donald Trump: I figured I’d better get him out of the way because I have a lot of personal opinions about him. The one thing that I can say is that he is not as he seems on television. I’m told by people I know that have encountered him personally that he is a very bright, personable individual. That said, I haven’t seen that in his public performances. And from what I know about his background, it is obviously heavy on business. Because of his business, he negotiates all the time. However, he doesn’t have any foreign policy background nor does he have the expertise; diplomacy appears to not be a strong suit of his. Furthermore, running multi-billion dollar businesses and being head of government/head of state don’t necessarily translate. I’m not convinced.
Carly Fiorina: she has the same problem as Trump does. Her strong business background doesn’t necessarily translate to government. Plus she has never been in any elected position. And I know that some people say that is a plus; I am not one of them. While she was crisp in her performance, I’m not sold. But she has potential.
Chris Christie: I have to admit that I liked his approach. And he has a clue. He attempted to involve “the people” was a great idea. And I actually think he meant it. I am concerned, however, about his temper. He’s not the only one who has one, but his seems to be the most well-known. And he seems to be the weakest link, in terms of its raising his head.
Scott Walker: tool. Plain and simple.
Ben Carson: very smart. He is as laid back as Trump is Type-A. And I like his point of view. But I wasn’t impressed with some of his answers to questions. My feeling is that he took a couple of steps back because of his performance.
Rand Paul: most of the time he has come off as being a bit of a whack job in the past. I have to say that I thought he was on point much more than any other time I’d seen him. And he made a few good points in his answers.
Mike Huckabee: hit or miss. My biggest problem with him is his support of Kim Davis in Kentucky, mainly because I don’t think she deserved it. As for his debate performance, better than I expected. Not my cup of tea, in terms of his views, but he does have personal integrity. And whether you like him or not, that is something you can’t take away from him.
Marco Rubio: I liked him. He is sharp, especially when it comes down to foreign policy. If he doesn’t find his way into the race this time, watch him. My only concern is that he is quitting the Senate at the end of his term. I think that will have some effect on his credibility.
Ted Cruz: smarmy. No other word to describe him. I don’t trust him.
John Kasich: my favorite. He seems to be the most knowledgeable one of the bunch. Plus he’s been around, both at the state and federal level as well as in the private sector. Whether he has a chance, however, remains to be seen. In my view, the reason for this is simply that he doesn’t have the name recognition as his competition. Hopefully that will change over time.
I am looking forward to seeing what happens. While I am not a huge fan of political theater, this is one time where I think it is important to pay attention. Probably more now than at any other time in the past 60 years.
Last thought: my views are not written in stone. Things may happen that would change my views and my observations about these candidates. So don’t be surprised if this winds up being a fluid subject. And I haven’t even talked about the Democrats, mainly because I’m waiting to see the substance of what they have said so far.