This evening (Sept. 27), seven Republican candidates vying for the presidential nomination will battle it out at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Moderating the debate will be Stuart Varney of Fox Business, Dana Perino of Fox News, and Ilia Calderón of Univision. Many questions surround this second television debate: Who really needs a breakout night? Why are the Democrats stationing California Gov. Gavin Newsom at the Reagan Library for a rebuttal? Will former President Donald Trump’s absence help or hinder him this time around? These are all topics worthy of exploration.
Since many Americans will be watching with their spouses, we thought it might be fun if Liberty Nation’s Editor-in-Chief Leesa K. Donner and Senior Political Analyst Tim Donner put on their political analyst boxing gloves and kibbitz about tonight’s event. Hopefully they’ll still be talking to one another following this wide-ranging discussion.
Leesa K. Donner: Well, Tim, here we go again with GOP Debate Round 2. This is a much bigger stage than I thought it would be. Gov. Doug Burgum, really? When the powers that be set the bar so low, it means less airtime for the ones who have a real shot. Or is this undercard event merely a beauty pageant to see who will make the best pick for vice president? Bottom line, I know the real reason you are watching is because you have the hots for Dana Perino.
Tim Donner: You promised not to tell people that! Anyway, it’s fair to say there are few people even in North Dakota who are interested in listening to what Doug Burgum has to say about anything, especially at the expense of hearing more from actual competitive candidates. At least we won’t have to listen to Asa Hutchinson this time. It seems newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy and perhaps Tim Scott are likely vying for the number two spot on the ticket. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis still believe they can win the big prize. The rest are in it for vanity or legacy repair.
LKD: Legacy repair? I like that. Last time it seemed like Haley and Ramaswamy agreed never to mention the name Ron DeSantis because once you say another candidate’s name, they have an opportunity for rebuttal. If it was done by design, then they certainly succeeded. DeSantis seemed less center stage than I thought he’d be. Speaking of quiet, everyone is saying Sen. Tim Scott needs to be more aggressive, but that’s not really his style, and in my humble opinion the worst thing a candidate can do in a debate is to try and be someone they are not. No, I did not ask a specific question here, but when has that ever stopped you?
TD: By now, you should know better than to give me an open mic. That said, DeSantis must act like the frontrunner in this debate, figure out how to steal as much time as possible, and speak directly to the cameras in order to put to rest the notion that he’s too stiff and unrelatable. He in particular should be thinking ahead and positioning himself for 2028, when Trump is, one way or another, gone. Likewise Haley, Scott, and Ramaswamy, all of whom are young and vital.
LKD: Once again former President Donald Trump is a no-show and has planned a rival event. That worked well for him last time, and I think it will as well this time. What seems rather odd is that Democrats are trotting out Gov. Gavin Newsom for a rebuttal. Was there ever an official party rebuttal to a debate before? Liberty Nation’s Chief Political Correspondent Graham Noble and I were discussing this earlier, and he said he thought it was a petty move by the Democrats. That’s a fair criticism in my book, but somehow I think you will call it smart political strategy.
TD: Some things never change, including the principle that any candidate, including Trump, who is leading by a huge margin would be committing political malpractice by exposing themselves to a debate in which all the guns of the also-rans will be aimed directly at him. He would have much to lose and nothing to gain. The ubiquity of California Gov. Gavin Newsom these days speaks volumes about both his naked presidential ambitions and the likelihood that most Democrats would prefer him – or any number of others — to Joe Biden.
And the Sparks Begin to Fly
LKD: Okay, it’s time for “hits and misses,” as they say on Fox News’ Journal Editorial Report. Here are my projected winners and losers for tonight:
- Doug Burgum and Chris Christie will be gone after this debate as in “Bzzzzzz, time’s up!”
- Ron DeSantis will have a good night, but it won’t make any difference.
- Vivek Ramaswamy will double down on his brash performance of last time, but he just might overdo it.
- Nikki Haley will continue to impress. The lady just plain has it all going on. Tonight’s performance will give her a boost.
- Mike Pence will keep lecturing us about his loyalty to the Constitution and continue turning people off.
- Tim Scott will at least make an effort to get some mojo going in this round, or else he’ll be knocked off the playing field.
What sayest thou?
TD: Wow, bold call on Burgum. I disagree about Christie because he’s putting all his eggs in the New Hampshire basket and is actually ahead of DeSantis there, which should at least allow him to continue to qualify for future debates. Here’s what I see happening:
- DeSantis will be far more aggressive and argue that Trump’s legal problems make him unelectable in the long run.
- Yes, Ramaswamy will double down, but not on brashness so much as his verbal love pats to Trump, hoping to be recognized as the intellectual voice of Trumpism or Trump 2.0.
- Haley will turn up the heat on Trump by repeating that he is “the most disliked politician in all of America,” leading to questions about whether she would accept his offer of VP, or if Trump would even consider making such an offer.
- Dana Perino will have men all over America going ga-ga.
LKD: My greatest hope is that there won’t be a nasty row tonight that would make Ronald Reagan roll over in his grave. After all, he was the one to establish the 11th Commandment, “Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.”
TD: Donald Trump rendered that commandment a historical footnote in 2016 with his devastating monikers like Lyin’ Ted (Cruz), Low Energy Jeb (Bush), and Little Marco (Rubio). This time, it’s DeSanctimonious. Nobody except the media and the left – but I repeat myself – wants a food fight among respectable Republicans. But in order for anyone to break away from the pack, that’s probably what it will take.
The Donners have been sparring about politics and public policy for 38 years and heed the wise words in Ephesians to never let the sun go down on their anger – especially if it has to do with politics.