GOP Debate No. 5

GOP Debate No. 5: The Candidates Tackle ISIS, Banning Muslims and... Closing the Internet?

The more things change at the Republican presidential debates, the more they stay the same.

Yes, the poll numbers have shifted since the last GOP face-off on Nov. 10 — sorry about that, Ben Carson — but the topics at hand have not.

On the heels of terrorist attacks in Paris, mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo. and San Bernadino, Calif. and a bomb threat in the Los Angeles County school district Tuesday morning, the fifth and final 2015 GOP debate focused more than ever on issues of national security, terrorism and — a buzzword of the evening — radical Islam.

Another thing that hasn’t changed about the Republican panels? The candidates’ fondness for talking over one another, slinging insults and fact-checking their rivals on the spot.

Put all those ingredients together, and you’ve got quite the political spectacle — an entertaining, enlightening, watercooler-worthy event that we’ve detailed below. Without further ado, here’s the evening in superlatives:

MOST PUZZLING OPENING REMARKS | Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul posed an important query in the opening seconds of Tuesday’s debate: “The question is, how do we keep America safe?” But instead of answering that question, Paul then cited Donald Trump’s suggestion of “closing” the Internet, then posed another riddle to the American people: “The question is, what does [Trump] mean by that?” What question is the question, Sen. Paul? (Runner-up: Ben Carson, who began his opening remarks with a thoughtful-but-poorly-timed moment of silence for the victims of the San Bernardino shooting.)

MOST DONALD TRUMP-ESQUE RESPONSE FROM DONALD TRUMP | Trump seemed completely unfazed by recent criticism of his proposed ban on Muslims in America. When given the floor for his opening remarks, Trump gave himself a big ol’ pat on the back: “We’ve opened up a very big discussion that needed to be opened up. People like what I say. People respect what I say.”

GOP Debate No. 5MOST ENTERTAINING TUSSLES | Let’s face it: Watching the Republican candidates spar doesn’t exactly make them look like the most mature group of men (and woman) in the country. But we also can’t deny how fun it was to watch Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush volley back and forth throughout the evening. First, when Bush accused Trump of being a “chaos candidate,” Trump fired back, “Jeb doesn’t really think I’m unhinged. He’s saying that because he has failed at his campaign. It’s a disaster. Nobody cares.”

Later, when Trump bemoaned how often his name was coming up in other candidates’ responses, Bush asserted, “If you think this is tough — this is a tough business, being the president,” to which Trump immediately fired back (with a healthy dose of side-eye), “Oh, yeah, you’re a tough guy, Jeb. I’m at 42 [percent] and you’re at 3 [percent]. So far, I’m doing OK. You started over here [near the center of the stage], Jeb, and you’re moving further and further. Soon you’re gonna be pushed off the edge.” Me-ow!

LEAST REASSURING RESPONSE | Considering how well New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie handled the Hurricane Sandy crisis — as a Jersey native, I’ll give him that — he seemed the right candidate for this question: Is fear the new normal in America, and how would Christie, as president, curb America’s fears of terrorism and violence? Instead, Christie’s first sentence served as a terrifying reminder of how prevalent mass shootings are in our society: “If a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino is now a target for terrorists, that means everywhere in America is now a target for these terrorists.” Gee, doncha feel better, America?

MOST EFFECTIVE DRINKING-GAME PHRASE | “Carpet bomb.” Once the topic of ISIS came up, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was given the floor, those two words might have just gotten you hospitalized if you were knocking back shots each time they were uttered.

MOST UNCOMFORTABLE FOLLOW-UP | When Carson was asked if he’d be ruthless enough to order fatal airstrikes in the war on terrorism, the mild-mannered neurosurgeon compared those difficult decisions to the same ones he makes when operating on children with brain cancer. And that opened the door for co-moderator Hugh Hewitt to ask one deeply unsettling follow-up, eliciting loud boos from the crowd: “You would be comfortable ordering airstrikes to kill hundreds and thousands of children?”

BEST DIG AT THE GOVERNMENT | Just because you’re a politician doesn’t mean you can’t stick it to the man, right? Christie did just that during a lengthy volley between Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about the USA Freedom Act, telling the viewing audience, “If your eyes are glazing over like mine are right now, this is what it’s like on the floor of the U.S. Senate.”

LAMEST JAB | Of all the mic-drop moments Ohio Gov. John Kasich could have had regarding Russia’s politics, this was not one of them: “Frankly, it’s time that we punch the Russians in the nose.”

MOST BROMANTIC MOMENT | When Trump was asked to clarify, once and for all, whether he would consider Cruz as his running mate (after calling the Texas senator a “maniac” just months prior), Trump interrupted co-moderator Dana Bash to good-naturedly (and oddly) sing Cruz’s praises. “I’ve gotten to know him over the last three or four days, and he’s got a wonderful temperament,” the ubiquitous businessman said of Cruz, before reaching over to pat Cruz on the arm. “He’s just fine. Don’t worry about it.” After having her question to Trump completely dismissed, Bash said what we were all thinking: “O-kay…”

With that, I hand it to you. Did you watch the final GOP debate of 2015? What were the highlights, in your opinion? Hit the comments and tell us!

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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  1. Angela says:

    “People like what I say. People respect what I say.”
    …uh-huh… Sure. Whatever you say, Trump.

  2. Ralph says:

    I weep for America. If these are the best choices, on BOTH sides of the campaign we are in REAL trouble.

    • peterwdawson says:

      Tell me about it, I’m sure glad I don’t have to vote in this (Canadian). I’d probably lean left but man, even that field’s not exactly fun either…

    • tvjunkie says:

      Look at it this was as bad as the choices are, even pathological liar Hillary would probably be an improvement over completely incompetent Obama, not that she should ever see the inside of the White House again, unless she’s on a public tour.

  3. Temperance says:

    Look! It’s a short bus parade to the local asylum! That’s about all that selection of humans are good for. Break out the haldol – they need it.

  4. Annie says:

    You know the GOP is in trouble when a Bush feels like the voice of reason compared to Trump’s remarks.

  5. Sarah says:

    These fools are why I vote. To make sure I do my part to keep corrupt racist morons out of politics.

    Vote Bernie 2016.

  6. ninamags says:

    Cruz genuinely terrifies me as a candidate. He’s one scary mo-fo.

    Plus, no one actually in Washington likes him, even a little.

    • Angela says:

      I’ve seen that clip of him showing how to make bacon with a machine gun. Seriously, WTF is that even about? Does he honestly think that makes him look like a cool bad@ss? Is anyone actually impressed by that?

      • Mary says:

        Unfortunately the answer to that is yes, scary isn’t it. I really do not understand how anyone with a little bit of intelligence would ever consider voting for him, heaven helps us if he is the nominee.

        • Angela says:

          It’s very frightening. If someone has to make a big production of how “tough” and “macho” they are, then that says a lot to me about them as a person, none of it good.

  7. JosiahBartlet4President says:

    Is there a such thing as an intelligent politician anymore? Or moderators for that matter? This debate is an embarrassment to our country.

    • Elf says:

      Intelligent people don’t appeal to the right. Sorry for making such a sweeping generalization, but the right these days seems to be more about releasing their aggression and finding someone who will make them feel empowered. They don’t want to listen to calm, reasonable discourse, or, for that matter, facts…

      • tvjunkie says:

        You’re one to talk since the left elected the most incompetent president ever TWICE and now wants to elect someone who can’t even properly handle classified materials. Imagine her finger on the nuclear trigger. She’d probably set it off accidentally. Furthermore if you look at the groups who support one party or the other you’ll find far more uneducated or under educated people in the left camp, because they’re always looking for free handouts.

        • Angela says:

          If you honestly think Obama is the most incompetent president we’ve ever had, you need to go back and look at our presidential history a little more closely.
          Furthermore if you look at the groups who support one party or the other you’ll find far more uneducated or under educated people in the left camp, because they’re always looking for free handouts.
          No. Just…no. This “free handouts” BS really needs to stop.

          • tvjunkie says:

            Tough talk from someone who offers absolutely nothing to back it up.

            And yes, yes, yes. And it’s not BS when it’s true.

      • Jana says:

        Isn’t it great when someone comes along after you and unwittingly proves you right?

  8. If you like or respect anything donald trump says kindly remove your head from your ass and report to the nearest insane assylum as you are certfiably insane.

    • tvjunkie says:

      So what you’re saying is you prefer the terrorists win and that you want the country to be overrun by illegals with criminal records and that you could care less about your or your families security.

      • Jana says:

        Trump is currently ISIS’ recruiter-in-chief. Sowing the seeds of fear and hate and inciting discrimination and xenophobia against innocent Muslims (who have been the victims of terrorism far more than anyone else) plays right into their hands. It helps them. And furthermore, our families will be far more secure under the leadership of someone with integrity and compassion, like Bernie Sanders, than a fascist demagogue like Trump.

        • tvjunkie says:

          Have you been living under a Rock? ISIS exploded under Obama long before the Presidential race even started. They continue to do so because Obama refuses to do much of anything effective to stop them. Why? Because he’s an ISIS sympathizer.

          And it’s funny how you wacko liberals are always lumping all Muslims together, while those of us on the right are (usually) only talking about the radical extremists ones. The problem Trump correctly identifies is that it’s very tough right now to distinguish which is which coming from the middle east.

          Nobody will be secure under a President who is uninterested in knowing who is coming into the country, basically rolling out the welcome mat to terrorists and criminals. Sure they’re not all terrorists and criminals, but it only takes a few as Paris found out.

          You are incredibly naive if you think ISIS will let up even an inch if Bernie is elected. Obama actually supports ISIS through inaction and that’s not stopping them.

      • Angela says:

        Oh, for the love of god, will you stop with this nonsense? Not supporting Trump doesn’t mean we “prefer the terrorists win”, for cripes’ sakes.

        • JosiahBartlet4President says:

          Yes, Angela! A thousand likes for your response :)

        • tvjunkie says:

          No but supporting a Democrat, none of which plan to do anything significant to stop ISIS or the influx of criminals across the southern border most certainly does. I’m not saying Trump is the answer, but he’s not the only better alternative to a Democrat who is running.

  9. Stevie says:

    how you can even vote for a party that thinks global warming is a lie is beyond me..

    • tvjunkie says:

      because the statistics show otherwise, unless you start looking at the doctored data used to support “man-made” global warming. natural causes, such as sun cycles is having a far greater impact. in fact ice has been growing some places. besides who cares about global warming when the left seems perfectly content to let radical Islamic terrorists destroy the world long before global warming would ever be a serious issue?

      • Jana says:

        Yes, I’m sure you and whoever’s brainwashed you know more about climate change than over 97% of the world’s climate scientists and experts. That sounds very plausible.

        • tvjunkie says:

          it’s not 97% and “going green” is huge business with massive financial motivations and for the sellout scientists it means massive amounts of grant money to push the agenda. You need to get your head out of your rear end and realize you’re being sold a bottle of snake oil.

  10. Jack says:

    Another gathering of lying narcissistic sociopaths. ..
    Nothing new to see here. ..
    Business as usual

  11. I was disappointed when trump suggested the killing of terrorists family, it sounds ridiculous. Like what rubio and graham were saying lets fight the terrorists and leave the faith alone.

  12. herman1959 says:

    No, I dlidnt watch and it looks like I didn’t miss anythiing AGAIN.

  13. rinaex says:

    “an entertaining, enlightening, watercooler-worthy event that we’ve detailed below”

    This was not entertaining. This was horrifying.

  14. Okay dude says:

    Trump leans too far to the right to win key swing states, and sanders , too far to the left. They both have zero moderate appeal. Neither of them has a decent shot at the White House.
    It’s basically between Hillary and Rubio/Bush/Cruz.

  15. Angus says:

    Look at the alternative. Hillory Clinton…..Really… That’s Obama with t#ts worse that Obama. You may not like him (Trump) put at least he’d give the U.S. a chance in a fighting war.

  16. Nancy says:

    Speaking as a NJ resident, let’s be clear, Christie did NOT do a good job with Superstorm Sandy. Ask anyone who was impacted by the storm. He can run the country when he supposedly didn’t even know what his TOP Aides were doing regarding the George Washington Bridge? These debates are nothing more than sound bites for the news shows. What do we really learn from them? Sad if this is the best we’ve got.