Voters who tuned into the Republican presidential debate last night probably regretted that decision and they were not alone.
“If I was at home watching that, I would turn the channel,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lamented after the debate, referring to the bickering and crosstalk that took place on stage between the candidates.
Since the debate was at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, candidate Vivek Ramaswamy tried to invoke the 11th Commandment about not criticizing a fellow Republican. I’m not sure Reagan ever used that line during a Republican debate, but Ramaswamy’s plea for decency failed miserably.
"Honestly, every time I hear you I feel a little bit dumber for what you say,” former Trump administration official Nikki Haley said to Ramaswamy at one point. Haley was in attack mode, arguing with Ron DeSantis on energy policy, and even fighting with Sen. Tim Scott, whom she appointed to be a United States Senator when she was governor of South Carolina
The attacks continued. Scott attacked DeSantis on education about slavery, Nikki Hayley about expensive curtains at the United Nations, and Ramaswamy for doing business in China. DeSantis attacked Trump on abortion and Christie attacked Trump for - being Trump. Even Pence took a shot at DeSantis for spending and Ramaswamy for his thin voting record.
When the candidates were not bickering, they were ignoring the questions in favor of repeating their stump speeches. The rare exception was Gov. Doug Burgum, who earned positive reviews for taking the debate question seriously and referring to his record as a successful businessman and governor. But the other candidates felt more comfortable delivering some of the worse canned lines that prompted a muted response from the audience and groans of agony on social media.
“No one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We're gonna call you Donald Duck,” former Gov. Chris Christie said, again mocking President Donald Trump for not appearing at the debate.
If it felt like a chaotic reality TV show, it was only solidified after debate moderator Dana Perino used the reality show "Survivor" for her final question.
“None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out so which one of you on the stage tonight should be voted off the island? Please use your marker to write your choice on the notepad in front of you…” she said. While the debate audience appeared entertained by the idea, the candidates were horrified.
“Are you serious?” an incredulous Hayley asked.
DeSantis led the pack by refusing to do so, noting it would be disrespectful to his fellow candidates and would rather talk about the issues.
Trump’s campaign team was delighted with the question.
“VOTE THEM ALL OFF THE ISLAND!” they replied on the campaign’s social media profile.
One has to imagine that the roughly 60 percent of polled Republicans who support Trump in the Republican primary agree.
Charlie Spiering is a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C., where he continues writing about the White House, Congress and national politics. A former writer for Breitbart News, The Washington Examiner and columnist Robert Novak, Spiering frequently returns home to the family farm in Powell to escape the insanity of Washington.