The Republican presidential candidate forum in Iowa last Friday was remarkable. Not because a bunch of candidates were there. We’ll be seeing a lot of that over the next few months. It was remarkable because none of us have ever seen a forum in which the candidates were questioned from the right before.
We’ve all seen Republican candidates get grilled from leftist journalists. CNN’s Candy Crowley beat Mitt Romney like a rented mule in 2012, for example. But we’ve never seen them questioned by someone who is more conservative, more traditional or more pro-American and pro-middle-class than Tucker Carlson.
Most of the answers from most of the candidates were memorized talking points. There was a lot of ducking and dodging. Tucker has a way of getting right to the heart of the matter on many issues, though. He’s able to frame questions in such a way that the candidates were not expecting them. He forces them to think on their feet, and they’re not good at that. They try to stick to their memorized scripts.
When they can’t do that, some of them—Asa Hutchinson and Mike Pence specifically—were exposed as total phonies who are disqualified from running for president as Republicans. These people sit and practice their speech and debate skills for hours and hours while being critiqued and trained by poly-sci and communications majors who don’t have the slightest idea about the real concerns of Americans. That’s why all the candidates came across as either dumb, weird or not ready for the spotlight.
Sen. Tim Scott went first. He gave a bunch of canned responses that showed the audience he knew how to say nothing while talking for a long period of time. At one point, he got so scared of Tucker Carlson he got up from his chair and started walking around the stage to avoid Carlson asking him anymore questions. I can’t remember a single thing that he said in response to Tucker Carlson’s questions. He came off as just another politician who is easily forgotten. Didn’t stand out at all.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson went next. One of the Blaze hosts at the event described it best, when he said that Tucker performed a brutal, 25-minute sex reassignment surgery on the stage. Hutchinson seems to accept the premise that a little boy can become a girl if his penis is chopped off, and therefore (according to Hutchinson’s logic), it’s okay if the parents guide the child through that process. He claims that he sees no valid role for government to prohibit that. Like I said—disqualified. He should be on the debate stage with RFK, Jr. and running for the Democrat nomination.
Nimarata Randhawa—sorry, I meant to type “Nikki Haley”—didn’t embarrass herself too badly. She was surprisingly one of the better ones, although Tucker surprised her into silence when he asked her point-blank, “Who blew up the Nord Stream Pipeline?” She didn’t win any new fans, but she also didn’t hurt herself.
Mike Pence, on the other hand, poured gasoline on his career and started lighting matches. His answer to one question may very well end up being the “Howard Dean scream” of the 2024 GOP primary.
Tucker told Pence, “Every city in the U.S. has become much worse over the past three years…and it’s visible. Our economy has degraded, the suicide rate has jumped, crime has exponentially increased and yet your concern is that the Ukrainians – a country that most people can’t find on a map who’ve received tens of billions of US tax dollars don’t have enough tanks!”
“I think it’s a fair question to ask, where’s the concern for the United States?”
Pence’s disastrous response was, “That’s not my concern.”
That’s a permanently disqualifying statement, as if Pence needed another one. At the Turning Point Action Conference in Florida over the weekend, 95% of young conservative voters said they’re opposed to any US involvement in Ukraine.
Vivek Ramaswamy’s performance was very good. He will certainly see his poll numbers rise after this performance. He had a lot of really great pro-America answers. He’ll be great at whatever position Donald Trump assigns him in his second administration.
And I say that because Ramaswamy’s problem is name recognition and trust. No one had heard of him before this year. It’s hard to trust a newcomer with the most powerful job in the nation. Case in point Ramaswamy went to Yale on a Soros Fellowship, which is a part of his resume that he’s done a great job of hiding from Republican voters for some reason.
Ron DeSantis also did pretty well. Not as well as Vivek Ramaswamy, but fine. He didn’t commit career suicide at least, like Asa Hutchinson and Mike Pence did, so it looks like he’ll be in the race a bit longer. At the very least, DeSantis didn’t use the political talk like Tim Scott did where he talked for a long time without saying anything at all. DeSantis answered all of Tucker’s questions directly and demonstrated a fair amount of knowledge about the issues.
Chris Christie was a no-show because they didn’t have any free donuts backstage.
President Trump opted out, because at this point, he seems to be approaching this as if everyone else should just drop out. Based on the 87.5% vote that he received in the Turning Point Straw Poll over the weekend, he’s probably right. Still it would have been nice to have seen him on stage, talking with Tucker.
If you missed Mike Pence’s self-immolation on what should have been an easy question, here it is: