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Band Of Outsiders: Minor-League Republicans Make Their Case In Warmup Debate

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Band Of Outsiders: Minor-League Republicans Make Their Case In Warmup Debate


They call it the undercard debate. But it could just as easily be described as an island of misfit Republicans.

Whether by choice or circumstance, none of the four men onstage for the warmup debate seemed to fit in with their party. Most of them railed against the state of the current GOP field, and — by insinuation — the unfortunate matter of their low standing within it.

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal accused Republicans of failing to honor conservative principles and said that the party was in danger of becoming a second liberal party.

“The Republicans never want to fight,” he said.

In his closing remarks, he directly addressed conservatives (he emphasized the word), most likely the evangelical base in Iowa — where Jindal is polling eighth. The American people, he said, were ready to turn to real conservatism, rather than the fickle brand offered by the GOP.

Jindal, a Catholic whose campaign has emphasized the right of Christians to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, left no question as to who he considers his base. “As Christians, we believe that the tomb is empty,” he said, and that America’s best days are ahead — thereby wedding right-wing religiosity to the idea of American patriotism.

Jindal recited his now-familiar script of touting his record as governor of Louisiana, where, he bragged, he cut 26 percent in state spending and slashed 30,000 state jobs.

He dismissed the lost job holders as “bureaucrats,” although the majority of the gutting of the state’s payroll came from Jindal’s decision to privatize the state’s charity hospital system.

He also boasted that he had — in his formulation — slimmed the government economy while growing the private economy. This, despite the fact that Louisiana’s private-sector employment growth has lagged behind the the national average, and since 2009 his state’s annual GDP growth has averaged 0.5 percent (compared with a national average annual growth rate of 1.9 percent). (Jindal took office in January 2008.)

On the other side of the spectrum, former New York governor George Pataki, and relative party moderate, was an outsider in his own right: He expressed his exasperation that the GOP refused to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific evidence that climate change was both real and man-made, and that serious candidates promulgated paranoid claptrap about the dangers of vaccines.

“It’s not appropriate,” he said. “It’s uncontroversial.”

Pataki said he wanted the federal government to incentivize innovative responses to climate change in the private sector. He spoke of the need to “embrace science” and “create new technologies that we can export” and “grow our economy.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham from South Carolina also decried his party’s recalcitrance on climate change, saying that rather than deny its existence, Republicans should be pursuing “a solution that would be good for the economy.”

Graham stood out for his single-minded hawkish determination to pivot every answer to a jeremiad about fighting wars abroad — in a debate nominally devoted to the economy. With his characteristic stream of self-deprecating humor, he asserted that no other candidate was prepared to “win a war that we cannot afford to lose.”

“Make me commander-in-chief and this crap stops,” he said.

Santorum focussed on his concern for the working-class, the industrial sector, and people with low wages; he made clear his wish and intention to “get American workers on the side of the Republican party.”

Graham may have summed the mood of the evening up most succinctly: “I’m tired of losing,” he said, referring to Republicans’ failures to win the White House in 2008 and 2012.

The implication was clear: The 10 top-tier candidates that were following them on stage were actually part of the problem.

Photo: Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Senator Rick Santorum, former New York Governor George Pataki and Rep. Lindsey Graham pose while attending a forum for lower polling candidates held by CNBC before their U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Boulder, Colorado October 28, 2015.  REUTERS/Rick Wilking 

Sam Reisman

Sam Reisman is the former managing editor at The National Memo, where he still writes the weekly "This Week In Crazy" column. His writing has appeared in Flavorpill, The Huffington Post, Columbia Daily Spectator, and Bwog. He was the publisher of the 2010 edition of Inside New York, an annual guidebook to the city for students and young professionals.

Since 2011, he has co-curated and hosted Peculiar Streams, a showcase for NYC-based writers, musicians, comedians, and filmmakers. He is a staff writer at Mediaite, and blogs at SamReisman.com.

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  1. John Murchison October 29, 2015

    Give it up ducks. Time to cash in your chips and lick your wounds.

  2. jmprint October 29, 2015

    Hey Lindey, when you hang with losers you lose.

  3. yabbed October 29, 2015

    The winner of last night’s debate was without question Hillary Clinton. She was proved to be the only candidate qualified to be President of the United States.

    1. David October 29, 2015

      If being an unashamed liar is the only qualification, I must agree.

      1. yabbed October 29, 2015

        Ah, baggers. They are the only people who can watch a Republican debate and make a comment like that.

      2. Independent1 October 29, 2015

        Let’s see, many people with money have tried to prove Hillary is a liar, in fact Issa and Gowdy blew over $10,000,000 trying.

        All you fakesters do is make accusations. Let’s see you identify something that’s really a lie, and not just a normal politician stretching the truth, which all politicians do, that you can pin on Hillary. (With undeniable facts please that don’t come from a RWNJ website.)

        1. David October 30, 2015

          You are so quick to forget that Hildebeast said for about a week that the Benghazi attack was “spontaneous” and a result of a movie — the emails confirm that the b–ch knew it was NOT because of a movie, but was a planned assault. One of many, many lies.

      3. Independent1 October 29, 2015

        And when we’re talking about an ‘unashamed’ liar, we’re talking about something like what Carson and Rubio did in the debate last night when they both clearly lied when pressed on a question: Carson about not being in cahoots with Mannatech and Rubio flat out lied when questioned about his loose financial dealings!! Those were FLAT OUT, UNASHAMED LIES WITH A NATIONAL TV AUDIENCE!!!

  4. dtgraham October 29, 2015

    My favourite moment was when Jindal went on and on about all the taxes he was going to cut for corporations and the comfortable. Then he quickly pivoted to people whose income is so low that they’re not taxable. He insisted that everyone must have some skin in the game and must pay something. He then outlined his special tax rate of 2% that the poorest of the poor must pay. That’s 21st century populism, Republican style.

  5. FireBaron October 29, 2015

    Not bad. Four guys whose combined poll numbers are below the Margin of Error in just about every poll.
    1. One former governor who has no clue what he stands for.
    2. One current governor who will probably be facing federal prosecution in a couple of months (like all of his predecessors)
    3. One current Senator who can best be described as “McCain Lite”
    4. One former Senator who still believes he will be called on to save the party at the Convention. There are reasons why (a) his state voted him out of office, (b) he lost the “Catholic Vote” in the primaries to a Mormon, (c) he lost his own state to the guy who was the eventual nominee. If Catholics (which he is a member of) and people in his own state didn’t want him, what makes him think everyone else does?

    1. Independent1 October 29, 2015

      It seems like some of these GOP ‘candidates’ just love throwing money into the wind. It’s not cheap running a campaign for the presidency, but even when the handwriting is on the wall – many of them just keep ignoring the message as if throwing money away is not a problem. Must be nice to have thousands of dollars you can just blow away.

  6. Aaron_of_Portsmouth October 29, 2015

    The pathetic flotsam strutting about in the Right Wing debates are all on a ghostly dhow sailing down the river Styx towards anonymity. Whether they are the “Undercard” or “Under-Undercard” makes no difference. They are equally hapless.

  7. David October 29, 2015

    I understand Santorum running eternally for office, he seems too crazy to be employable, but what gives with the other guys? This is the dregs of the worst gop line up probably ever. Very few qualified to be a city councilperson, and the ones qualified are nut cases. But, because they successfully cut education spending every year, they stay viable.


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