GOP Debate No. 3: Candidate-Moderator Vitriol, a Quiet Ben Carson and Jeb Bush's (Gulp) 'Warm Kiss'

“I renegotiated it down to two hours — so we can get the hell out of here! Not bad!” That was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s chuckling take on his agreement with Dr. Ben Carson to boycott CNBC’s GOP Debate regarding overall running time.

The Celebrity Apprentice host’s disdain for the network that hosted the event percolated throughout the event — despite the fact that CNBC’s crazy-cacophonous pre-game commentary definitely leaned anti-Obama and pro-fiscal conservatism.

Some of the debate’s most impassioned moments — and most animated responses from the crowd at the University of Colorado in Boulder — came when candidates criticized the line of questioning from network moderators Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick and John Harwood.

In one particularly eye-popping exchange, Quick apologized to Trump when he insisted she was wrong about his quotes regarding criticism of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on H-1B Visas. Later in the evening, Quick resumed her queries, noting she’d had time to check her sources: “It was from the DonaldJTrump.com Web site.” (Whoops!)

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio raged that, “The Democrats have the ultimate Super Pac — it’s called the mainstream media,” while former Gov. Mike Huckabee closed by complaining that “to the media,” the election is a mere game and the candidates are just players who “give up our livelihoods… and fight for the people of America.” (That sounds good, but to be fair, popular candidates can and do make a pretty penny on the post-election speaking circuit.)

Carson, for his part, played it verrrry verrrry quiet for a man who’s the current front-runner in the polls, keeping it vague about specific policy ideas while failing to score many points in the buzzy one-liner department.

Anyhow, I shan’t spend another second defending the media — since that’s how I make my living, too. Instead, let’s dive into recapping the loudest, most outlandish and pop-culturiest moments of the GOP Debate No. 3.

MOST BAFFLING MUSIC CUE | Please explain, por favor, the decision to have a child creepily recite the words to “America the Beautiful” as CNBC showed fist-pumping, grimacing images of the 10 candidates as if they were about to scrimmage on the football field.

MOST UNEXPECTED TWIST ON AN ’80s HIT | Answering a thoroughly useless question from CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla about their “biggest weaknesses” as candidates, Sen. Ted Cruz declared himself not the best bet for going out and getting a beer. “But if you want someone to drive you home, I will get the job done.” Strangely, CNBC did not take the opportunity to cue up The Cars’ “Drive,” softly in the background.

NOTHING COMIC-AL ABOUT IT | Co-moderator John Harwood asked Donald Trump if his presidential platform — building a ball on the country’s southern border, deporting 10 million immigrants, cutting $10 trillion in taxes without affecting the deficit — made him “a comic-book version of a candidate.” To which the Celebrity Apprentice host huffed that if The Great Wall of China spans 13,000 miles, there’s no reason he can’t build one that’s 1,000 miles long — with a “big, fat beautiful door.” Trump also seethed that CNBC contributor Larry Kudlow loved his tax plan — so, basically, “Ha!”

TITHE-ING THE KNOT | Co-moderator Becky Quick came out guns blazing about Dr. Ben Carson’s tax plan — saying that any crunching of the numbers proved his 10% tithe tax would result in a “$2 trillion hole.” Carson proved somewhat vague in his response — insisting he’d look into cutting staffing and budgets for 645 federal agencies and that it would all make sense “when we put all of the facts down.” Alrighty, then!

STOP THE INSANITY! | In one of the brief moments he was given the floor, Ohio governor John Kasich, so polite in GOP Debates No. 1 and 2, ripped into some of his fellow Republicans (Trump and Carson, without naming them) for proposing economic plans that would result in “trillions and trillions of debt.” Kasich (roaring “This is fantasy!”) made the point that, “we cannot elect somebody who doesn’t know how to do the job,” underscoring that a “10 percent tithe” or the belief in one’s greatness or the deportation of 10 million people (resulting in families being torn apart) couldn’t be construed as positives.

BIGGEST ROAR OF APPLAUSE | Grilled about a recent Florida Sun Sentinel editorial blasting him for missing more than half of his votes on the Senate floor, Marco Rubio turned the question around, saying Barack Obama won the paper’s approval while also campaigning as an active senator. “It’s another example of a double standard in this country between the mainstream media and the conservative movement!” he shouted, as the crowd exploded like they were watching American Pharoah coming down the stretch in the Belmont Stakes.

HARSHEST BURN | Following Rubio’s defense of his attendance record in the Senate, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sniped that his opponent was indulging in a “French work week.” Le gasp!

CARLY’S GOT A CATCHPHRASE | On a number of subjects, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina — who came across as particularly firm and steady in Debate No. 2 — repeated some variation on the theme of “big and powerful government” doing damage to “the small and powerless.” She was also kinda sorta blinking uncontrollably, no?

“I AM NOT A HOMOPHOBE!” | Asked how he could sit on the board of Costco — voted the “No. 1 gay-friendly brand in America” — Carson said he believes the U.S. Constitution “protects everybody,” then added that “one of the myths the left perpetuates” is that opposition to same-sex marriage means a person is homophobic. (Fair enough, buddy, but opposition to same-sex marriage pretty much means you don’t believe gays and lesbians deserve equal protection under the U.S. Constitution you were so eager to reference, no?)

YOU MAY LIKE IT, BUT YOU SHOULDN’T PUT YOUR MOUTH ON IT | “Find me a Democrat that would cut spending $10 and I’ll give him a warm kiss,” smiled Jeb Bush. Dude, everyone in America would pay $10 to have that image deleted from their memory banks right this second.

BEST CROSS-CANDIDATE SYNERGY | “I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight!” smiled Mike Huckabee, when asked if Trump had the moral fiber to hold the nation’s highest office.

QUOTE MOST LIKELY TO SCORE A TOUCHDOWN ON MORNING-NEWS SHOWS | “We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have Al Qaeda and Isis attacking us — and we’re talking about fantasy football!” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who did everything but slam a ball and do an end-zone dance to punctuate his point.

What did you think of #GOPDebate No. 3? Who were the big winners? Who fell behind? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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52 Comments
  1. Eric says:

    MSNBC is the worst. They couldn’t hold back their hatred for one night.

  2. ninamags says:

    Admittedly, I only saw bits and pieces of this circus. I can’t summon up enough interest in these clowns. Don’t even know why I’m commenting now. Sorry. *backs away slowly from this thread*

  3. BarryFlash says:

    CNBC moderators were a joke! Michael Slezak, we see your politics in this article. I like this site for entertainment but the political and social views are far far far left.

    • Angela says:

      I’m always amused at what constitutes “far, far, far left” in some people’s eyes. I saw nothing in his recap that screamed “radical leftist”.

      • Sarah O says:

        Far, far, far left = saying anything positive about Americans who aren’t billionaires or bigots

        • peterwdawson says:

          alternatively, = calling out someone on the right for saying something stupid. It isn’t hard given how desperate everyone is to see who pander the most. Main reason you aren’t seeing more of this with the democrats is because there’s essentially two of them and their split is already set in stone, so they just gotta keep hammering the message at this point.

          • Paolo says:

            Gee, because helping the rich get off easier by REDUCING their taxes and imposing higher taxes for everyone else does not constitute “saying something stupid…”

  4. Angela says:

    Just continuing to wait for the day when Trump finally drops out of the race. And please, dear God, let that day be very soon.
    .
    As for Carson, given some of his rather stupefying ignorant and bizarre comments that have made the news lately, probably wise he stayed quiet overall.

    • Mary says:

      Thank you, how anyone thinks Carson is viable to be President is beyond real. Not only his mannerism, which drive me batty, but what actually comes out his mouth. I don’t know something is off with him, but I cannot put my finger on it.

      • Angela says:

        Reading all his comments, it honestly boggles my mind that he’s a neurosurgeon. Enough to make me wary of the thought of him operating on anyone.

  5. jack says:

    THESE PEOPLE ARE INSANE!

  6. Linda Fedak says:

    #Trump2016 all strength, confidence, stability, intelligence, unlike carson who flies by the seat of his pants, trying make it sound as though he knows what he is talking about, hoping no one will notice he didn’t say anything, and is as unstable as aleaf blowing in the wind. the rest of them were what we ‘ve come to expect Bla Bla Bla.and the moderators suck

  7. Melora says:

    Until Republicans find a Barry Goldwater type candidate they will never get the whitehouse. It would also be benficial for America if we had a viable 3rd party.

    • Mr. Smith says:

      It would be VERY beneficial for America to have at least ONE candidate who didn’t favor conservatives OR liberals, but what is BEST for American citizens. Hillary isn’t it and neither is Trump. Cut all political funding for campaigns, no ads, have debates and let America choose for themselves. This country is being run by a few who contribute to campaigns, leaving whatever President we elect as a puppet.

      • babygate says:

        Not a Trump fan AT ALL. But he is self-funded, something he brags about relentlessly. Hillary on the other hand, is in bed with Wall Street and major foreign players (through the Clinton Foundation). Since we are only comparing them two.

        • LT says:

          Self-funded? He admitted his daddy gave him that “small” million dollar loan, remember?

          • Lucifer says:

            Yeah, and how is that worse than being funded directly from wall street, hollywood elitists, and foreign leaders of countries that lack basic human rights?

        • Z says:

          He lies about being self funded… most of his funding comes from donations just like everyone else… And foreign players are not allowed to contribute to political campaigns.

        • maggie says:

          Trump’s financial disclosures show that donations were greater than what he himself gave to his campaign. Trump says one thing, but his paperwork says another. Just like him denying that he said anything about Rubio and Visas, yet it’s on his campaign website.

      • Spitey Spice says:

        Sounds like you feel the Bern! Campaign finance reform is one of his biggest goals and so important to our political system, which is so, so, so broken.

  8. Mr. Smith says:

    I don’t give a hairy rabbit’s butt if you are a Republican, Democrat or a Middle Earth Elf, the moderators last night were trying to bait even the fish in the streams near Boulder. What a sad testament to news reporters! And, just so you know, I would say this if it were Fox News or CNN. This shouldn’t have been allowed to happen!

    • psychit says:

      I couldn’t agree more!

      I was so disheartened to see the media is so unabashedly biased

      • Temperance says:

        Have you every watched the FOX Propaganda Channel for five minutes? Six independent organizations give them an 81% LIE rating. That means 81% of that was said was factually a lie. I don’t think pathological lairs can manage that.

    • Lucifer says:

      Very true, and you can see the giant difference between these GOP debates and the DNC ones. I mean, they basically designed it for Hillary to win and didn’t pit the candidates against each other. However, even though every single online poll proved the public felt Sanders won, all media outlets still gave it to Hillary.

    • Z says:

      They were trying to create some drama for good TV… it wasnt politically motivated. Some of the questions were idiotic (who cares about fantasy football betting?) but the main problem with the debate is too many candidates, which doesnt allow for a true back and forth debate.

  9. babygate says:

    What a lens to look through. . What Jeb attempted to do last night by asking Rubio to resign was the dumbest, most desperate, transparent and ill-advised move he could have ever made. And the real burn was Rubio standing his ground and pointing to the fact that Jeb has made attacking him a preferred strategy and also providing some numbers to support his position. Jeb walked away looking like a total loser. And funny that you failed to mention how Hargrove, a known far-far leftist, accused Rubio’s plan of favoring the rich and Rubio hitting him back by pointing out that Hargrove had already made that accusation before and had to issue a correction. But, hey, I guess it’s all in the eye of the beholder Michael…

  10. HAP says:

    The man whose resume to be president standing on the stage does not appear to have a chance for the nomination. I’m speaking of John Kasich. He served in the Ohio Senate, The US House of Representatives, in in his second term as Governor of Ohio. No one else on stage comes close. Oh, and he’s also a centrist and seeks compromise.

    • maggie says:

      I agree. Kasich is the only one of the group who can actually appeal to people beyond the GOP base. Given that the number of GOP registered voters isn’t enough to get someone elected President, a candidate needs to get some Independent and Democratic voters in order to win. Too bad Kasich doesn’t have a chance to get the nomination.

  11. maggie says:

    None of the candidates seemed to understand that the Fantasy Football question wasn’t about a game you play with our officemates, but companies like FanDuel and DraftKings. They are being investigated by the FBI for an employee betting scandal. These companies are basically online betting, and are unregulated.

  12. Temperance says:

    There hasn’t been a Republican that has a single clue about running the American economy since before 1980. They operate (for the most part) exactly opposite the way (and in opposition to) how business does. It’s hysterical that they all blather on about being the party of economics, when they are the party that wages two unpaid for wars, causing the debt to skyrocket, and quickly thereafter tanked the American (and almost world) economy with the twice-as-bad-as-communism ‘trickle-down economics’. Pretty much everything this short bus parade said was completely nuts.

  13. “Carson said he believes the U.S. Constitution “protects everybody,” then added that “one of the myths the left perpetuates” is that opposition to same-sex marriage means a person is homophobic.”

    LOL @ stupidity

    “Just because I hate gay people, doesn’t mean I hate gay people!”

  14. Nickolas says:

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  15. diego Betancourt says:

    Republican party is Dead