How to watch a GOP Debate: A NPN Viewer's Guide


Tonight is the night of the GOP debate where the field has been slimmed down to only six candidates: Bush, that guy from Ohio, Cruz, and Trump 3 more times.  This debate comes right off of the heels of the State of the Union and powerful message from Obama of bipartisanship and forward progress. Tonight however is going to be another night of chaos and  great night of TV with clips you'll see for weeks. It will also be a terrible for the Republican party and the American public at large.

In case you are one of the few Americans that hasn't tuned into the debates yet, you really missing a historic spectacle that will make you laugh, feel disgusted, and completely and utterly captivated by Donald Trump and his 7 Dwarves who are desperately try to mimic his unique Biff Banner-rude tude attitude. These GOP debates have captivated America so much that they now top 91.67 Million viewers. Compare that with the Democrats who have had only 30.2 million viewers.

Presidential Debate Viewership

Combine those numbers with the internet numbers and you have some of the most watched and re -watched events in modern history. With all of that in mind, you would imagine that with all of that national publicity who ever debated their points with passion and excitement and out preformed their opponents on live television would be unstoppable in the primaries because more people will have tuned in to watch them then will even vote in the primaries. However, the winner on substance of these debates has been Rand Paul and he is protesting and sitting this debate out because he isn't even breaking the 3% mark on national polls and he doesn't ever want to make eye contact with Rick Santorum at the JV debate.

"The GOP Debates are a historic spectacle that will make you laugh, feel disgusted, and completely and utterly captivated by Donald Trump and his 7 Dwarves"


As hard as it is to admit, these debates are  solely about who can get on the highlight reel the next day. Which doesn't mean who can make an interesting point about the future of our country, but who can make the most bombastic insult so headlines can read "The Gloves Are Off!" I am not the only one who believes this to be true. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has posted it about here and here  about what matters more than the debate itself is how the media covers the debate. With Donald Trump making Jeb Bush look like the most nervous Hank Hill impersonator ever, there are much better things to cover for the media than an eloquent speech about the role of government.

Rather then deny this, NPN is here to teach you how to watch and what to look for in the GOP debate so you can understand why Donald Trump is all over the internet tomorrow and why no one can still remember who the fuck John Kasich is.

What to really look out for in the GOP Debate

1.Who has the best Canada joke?

Ted Cruz is sort of screwed on this. Donald Trump found the perfect attack and has started to raise questions about the senator from Texas's eligibility to run for President. Cruz who was born in Canada was hoping to dodge the birther claim this campaign season, but birthers make up a large part of his Tea Party base and this has been a hot button issue for them since the Donald famously accused Obama of being ineligible. The only way out of this political dilemma is to make a good enough joke to move past it or he needs Bernie Sanders to take the stage and yell that he has heard enough about these damn birth certificates and demand the media treat Clinton better.

Neither is very likely, so odds are this will remain a campaign issue after this debate. The true question is will anyone make a Canada joke. No other candidate besides Trump can raTed Canadaise this issue and not seem like a part of the bigoted wing of the Republican party that distrusts foreigners and Obama and especially foreigners named Obama.  However, if a candidate were to make a joke of him being from Canada then they could touch the issue and get off scott free.

Marco Rubio might mention that "He got his foreign policy from his birth place... in Canada"

Chris Christie might make a joke that "Trump is  crazy enough to build a wall up along Canada's border just to keep out Ted Cruz and protect Scott Walker"

I am not sure what the joke will be, but if they land a zinger on Cruz then this issue will continue and he might lose Iowa which is looking it might be his only path to the Presidency. Then the race will be even more wide open then it is now.

2. Who can land the biggest hit on Donald without him getting the last word?

Last debate, Rand Paul shone through on the media coverage because he made fun of Donald Trump complaining about the lack of concessions we got from China in the TPP even though China wasn't part of the TPP. This was perfect because it painted Donald in a light that made him look stupid and inexperienced. The problem is Trump always gets the last word even if he has to call you a baby in order to do it.  NonProphetNews has its money on Chris Christie to be the one to have the K.O. punch that stops Trump but no one has been able to do it yet.

Candidates are getting desperate and Donald Trump is leading in every state and national poll averages right now. However, if they true want to knock Donald Trump off of his horse you can't attack him from the right. You have to attack his liberal leaning tendencies.

Trump is for affirmative action, a progressive tax rate, wants Germany to take the reins on Ukraine while America leads from behind. You name it you can attack Trump on. Trump came out for a single payer health care at the first debate.  Single Payer Health Care! That's my boy Bernie Sanders' line!

If someone can hit Trump where it hurts, with his base, then we might have a more readable horse race soon. Then we can breathe easy that Donald is out the race  and that we might get a slightly more poll-tested tyrant instead.

3. Who creates the most uncomfortable moment?

There have been some ridiculously uncomfortable moments in these debates. Ted Cruz said that he would drive us home after we got drunk at the bars. Jeb Bush said he would give democrats a warm kiss. And Rand Paul keeps saying he is 5' 8" and fucking no one believes that #AuditRandPaulsHeight

But these moments surprisingly do more to help the candidate than hurt. In a race against Donald Trump, the rule of thumb is any publicity is better than no publicity. Trump has dominated the air waves and has gotten 20x more coverage than other candidates. They need to have their zipper down or something and then they might go up in the polls. Isn't American politics a little funny and a little depressing?

4. Immigration

This is the one substantive issue that might carry the day.  Cruz has been fumbling his flip-flop on immigration and Rubio has been attacked for trying to work with Democrats on a bill that died before it started. Trump has been talking about hiring the Gestapo to hunt down George Lopez.  Bush and Kasich will attack Trump for being fascist and Trump will remind us that it is not fascist because a lot of smart people agree with him. The candidates have stark differences of opinions on this issue and this has become the wedge issue of the campaign. The important thing to look for here is to see if anyone can cut through the bullshit and emerge with a solid victory on this issue. Instead of elevating any of the candidates, immigration has been used to attack opponents with and separate the electorate.

Keep in mind that this it is harder to walk away with a clean debate win on immigration then it is to make a Canada joke. That's why this is the number 4 thing to look for.

5. Media Attacks

This is the bread and butter of any candidate who doesn't want to answer the question. Republicans and Democrats do it alike (see Bernie Sander's campaign). Hell that's sort of what I am doing right now. Ted Cruz has been fantastic about doing this and has won the best comment of the night by the media multiple times on the day afterwards for his clever attacks on the media. I am hoping they call out the media for not freaking out when Obama claimed his administration was the driving force to stop Ebola. Or Trump tries to make a Bill Clinton joke. Whatever it is this is the wild card that can elevate any candidate who has a clever enough line.


There you have it. These are the 5 major things to watch for in the debate. Because instead of focusing on substance, the debate winner will be chosen on who can excel at setting their hair on fire while looking Presidential at the same time.  It isn't what the debate should be about, but it definitely is.



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