The dust has finally cleared on the fourth Republican presidential debate, and while no definitive winners emerged, there were plenty of eyebrow-raising moments and exchanges. Here’s what people are talking about today:
Mike Huckabee makes a sexist joke at his wife’s expense … again
When asked during the undercard debate whether he would retain Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee made a joke at his own wife’s expense. “My wife’s name is Janet,” Huckabee said. “And when you say Janet yellin’, I’m very familiar with what you mean.” This is not the first time Huckabee has scored laughs of the “Take my wife, please” variety. During the previous GOP debate on CNBC, when asked to name his greatest weakness, Huckabee said: “I don’t really have any weaknesses that I can think of, but if you talk to my wife, I think she’ll give you more.” And in the debate prior to that, when the candidates were asked what women they would potentially place on the $10 bill, Huckabee suggested his wife, and, after describing his wife’s battle with cancer, cracked “that way, she could spend her own money with her face.”
Ted Cruz has an “oops” moment but no one notices
Sen. Ted Cruz unveiled a big plan to eliminate five federal agencies prior to Tuesday night’s debate. However, when he took the main stage he clearly stumbled when trying to name them all. “Five major agencies that I would eliminate,” Cruz began. “The IRS, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and HUD.” But he avoided the infamous fate of former candidate Rick Perry, by not acknowledging the fact that he named the same agency twice.
Ben Carson says he has “no problem” with vetting, but does he?
For the second time in a week, Dr. Ben Carson turned questions about his past statements into an attack on a Democrat. Carson told a debate moderator that he believes we should “vet all candidates” before pivoting to an attack on Hillary Clinton’s veracity on the subject of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack. In a prior press conference, Carson resurrected Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright as examples of demons in President Barack Obama’s past, to deflect questions about his claim that he’d been offered a “full scholarship” to West Point as a youth.
Who has and who hasn’t met Putin?
Carly Fiorina went after Donald Trump in a pointed exchange about who would better handle Russian President Vladmir Putin. Trump argued that he and Putin were “stablemates” because they both appeared on the same episode of “60 Minutes,” albeit in separate segments. Fiorina boasted that she had met Putin “not in a green room for a show, but in a private meeting.” However, in September, while appearing as a guest on “The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon,” Fiorina specifically said she met Putin “in sort of a green room setting.” Meanwhile, Rubio admitted he has never met Putin, but added: “I know enough about him to know he is a gangster.”
Trump praises “Operation Wetback” without mentioning its offensive name
The real estate mogul appears to want to go back to the future. During a back and forth over Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, the GOP front-runner reminded audiences of former President Dwight Eisenhower’s racially insensitive “Operation Wetback” program, which removed more than 1 million people in the mid-1950s, although he sidestepped the initiative’s offensive name. Despite the fact that the reputation of the Eisenhower program is horrendous and literally includes a racial slur in its title, Trump’s assertion that it was a success went unchallenged.
Deprive “ISIS people” of sandwiches
Huckabee had another memorable moment in the undercard debate. While arguing against the U.S. accepting refugees from Syria, Huckabee warned that we don’t know “who these people are.” “Are we going to open the doors so that ISIS people will come on in and we’ll give them a place to stay and a good sandwich and medical benefits?” he asked rhetorically. No other candidate has taken a harder line on sandwiches during the 2016 campaign season.
Rubio takes a shot at professional “philosophers”
While making the case for the creation of more blue collar jobs in manufacturing, without raising the minimum wage, Sen. Marco Rubio took a swipe at “philosophers.” “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers,” the Florida lawmaker said to applause from the debate audience. However, it’s unclear why he singled out philosophers for such specific disdain. In the aftermath of Rubio’s remarks, Talking Points Memo highlighted the fact that Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show that post-secondary philosophy and religion teachers earn more on average than welders.
Cruz compares the IRS code to the Bible
Sen. Ted Cruz knew he would score points with the debate crowd by going after the tax code, but he upped the ante by bringing the Bible into the conversation. “There are more words in the IRS code than there are in the Bible – and – and not a one of them is as good,” Cruz quipped. Republicans have had a penchant for attacking the length of legislation during the Obama White House, and Carly Fiorina has promised to deliver a tax code only three pages long – she just hasn’t explained how.
Cruz calls out “sugar farmers”
To some, Cruz’s aside against “sugar farmers” might have seemed nonsensical. “Sugar farmers farm on roughly 0.2% of the farmland in America and give 40% of the lobbying money. That sort of corporate welfare is why we’re bankrupting our kids and grandkids,” Cruz said. “I would end the subsidies to pay for defending this nation.” Although sugar farmers have not been a subject of great concern to most Americans, The Daily Caller suggests that the entire line was a veiled broadside against Rubio, who has been receiving a lot of donations from the most successful “sugar family” in Florida.
Rand Paul wants an itsy bitsy government
In an ironic remark from the most pint-sized candidate on the stage, the Kentucky senator declared “I want a government really, really small, so small you can barely see it” to rapturous applause.