The prospect of challenging a damaged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 presidency has elicited the enthusiastic candidacies of an even-larger-than-usual cast of GOP wingnuts. From the depths of this seemingly infinite clown car have emerged contenders both serious and totally frivolous. Of the 17 declared candidates, only 10 will be allowed on stage for the first major GOP debate of the election cycle. Here they are, courtesy of NYT:
Of the 17, and even among the top 10 polling (those allowed to debate Thursday), many are simply there to stroke massive egos or remain relevant, offer no real substance, and cannot boast even a far-fetched path to victory. And then there are a few who, though often-dismissed and polling quite low, would actually make good additions to the debate floor.
I’ve placed the following candidates in the “Zero Value Add” category, and have ranked them from most-to-pathetically-least relevant to the national debate:
- Chris Christie: Massively unpopular at home and nationally. Burst onto national stage as a straight-talking & pragmatic blue-state governor, but ran his mouth too often and revealed himself and his staff to be small-minded bullies over the Bridgegate scandal during his reelection campaign. He has no shot at winning the GOP nomination– and no great economic record in New Jersey – but seems convinced that he should be running, if only to give the media tantalizing soundbites such as this most recent revelation: “I’ve used birth control, and not just the rhythm method.” Nice.
- Mike Huckabee: Remember when he was obese? Now he’s one of those slobbery assholes on the radio promoting a “natural” cure to diabetes. Feeds on outrage as well as Cracker Barrel. Wants to take the Evangelical vote, but newer & fresher voices (Cruz, Carson, Kasich) are all speaking the gospel and doing it better. Also here’s a fun quote:
- Bobby Jindal: Like Christie but with Cajun food. And a quieter voice.
- Carly Fiorina: Is the proud owner of two X chromosomes. Also she ran eBay into the ground… or Hewlett Packard. nobody really remembers.
- George Pataki: Was named after a character on Hey, Arnold, and I believe was in office when that show was at its heyday.
- Jim Gilmore: We have a crack team of researchers figuring this one out.
And here are a few hopefuls that actually have something to offer the debate, but are being edged out in the media by the quantity and noise of other candidates:
- John Kasich: Combines moderate pragmatism & deep compassion / Jesus talk. Speaks genuinely about issues other candidates are afraid to address. Plus, his campaign manager has the best quote about Trump sitting front-and-center of the debate: “Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk.”
- Rick Perry: The governor barely missed the cutoff for Thursday’s debate, which is unfortunate despite his disastrous showing in the 2012 GOP primary, during which he couldn’t name the three government departments he said he was planning on eliminating. The fact remains that he’s the governor with the best business record, as Texas’s economy has been roiling even as the rest of the nation’s stagnates. Companies that have moved to Texas during Perry’s tenure: Toyota, Apple, Chevron, Visa, HP, DropBox & eBay.
- Lindsay Graham: Keeping foreign policy on the electorate’s mind as America gradually creeps off of the world stage.
The rest of the candidates (Bush, Walker, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, Paul) all probably deserve their place on stage and have something specific to offer the electorate.
Then there’s Donald Trump, who has seen his poll numbers explode as the media has covered nobody else since his announcement in June. Opinion polls have followed, and he has nearly double the number of supporters as his nearest rival, Jeb Bush. While it’s already evident that he is not a serious candidate (or person) – HuffPo’s announcement that they’ll only be covering him in their ‘Entertainment’ section pretty much sums it up – I’d like to take the time to explore a few of his best quotes:
- Reading a bitch (Rick Perry):
- On McCain’s war hero record:
“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
Mmmm no bueno.
- Mexico’s new wall:
“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Two key thoughts here:
- Nobody builds walls better than The Donald. Believe him!
- Even if he did build an enormous wall (a questionable choice considering that Mexican migrations has slowed or actually reversed with the slowdown of the American economy), how would he force another sovereign nation to pay for it? Remember the Alamo?
- Mexico’s worst:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
Seriously, if he said this about gay or black people, he’d have been swept away by a tsunami of outrage weeks ago.