Watch CNN’s coverage of the fifth Republican presidential debate live from Las Vegas on Tuesday, December 15. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET.Washington (CNN)Nine candidates will appear in prime-time Tuesday night for the final Republican presidential primary debate of 2015, a critical event that will help shape the contest heading into the Iowa caucuses.Businessman Donald Trump, the front-runner for the nomination, will again be center stage flanked by retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson on his right and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on his left, CNN announced Sunday. The six remaining participants in the prime-time contest will be Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.Four candidates — former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki — will appear in the first debate on Tuesday evening.
“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.”
Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have largely focused their campaigns on domestic policy—and both garnered significant applause from the audience when it came to these issues. Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street and the campaign finance system, and his call for a raising the minimum wage were met with big approval from the crowd. O’Malley hit several of those same notes, though his biggest applause line came when he called Donald Trump an “immigration-bashing carnival barker.”
Though the debate remained civil, Sanders and O’Malley did attack Clinton on several issues, including the donations she has received from Wall Street over the years. Her strategy for rebutting such attacks came into focus during the debate.
Here are some of the night’s top moments.
Sanders says he’s not as big a socialist as Dwight Eisenhower
Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, make public college free, and expand Social Security. If his plan is to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for these investments, CBS’ Nancy Cordes asked him, how high would they be?
“We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent,” Sanders promised. The crowd laughed almost nervously at the high number. But Sanders quickly reassured them.
“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.” The audience roared.
Critics say the televised, speed chess-meets-Mortal Kombat competitions between politicians who want to lead the free world too often turn on stumbles, errors and style over substance. Supporters insist on their value, but want reforms, now more than ever.
Given such high stakes, relatively low expectations and declining overall TV viewership in an era where Twitter is a news source: Why are presidential debates still a thing?
Though they sometimes resemble the reality show “Survivor” more than a serious forum about the nation’s future, presidential debates are one of the top sources of information for voters, according to analyses and TV ratings. They can also determine which candidates can tap the ever-widening pipeline of money in politics – from small donors kicking in a few dollars to wealthy elites deciding which future president, or super PAC, is the best bet for their millions.
Yet the decades-old, gladiators-on-TV format is looking increasingly battle-worn.
11:20 pm: Takeaway from Milwaukee: Brace for a new round of Rubio-rising stories. He came into this debate with momentum and he performed to expectations. His trendline is up and will keep going up, though questions remain about his ability to turn elite opinion into votes. Jeb was practically a nonfactor. He is just not good at this, and besides a couple of prescripted answers, he did nothing to stand out. The Jeb-death-watch narrative will also continue after this. Trump was sort of subdued, but he’s never that good in debates. Same with Carson—his voters don’t care that he’s borderline incoherent on any substantive questions. Kasich, as usually, seems to have infuriated base conservatives while appealing to moderates and liberal Republicans. Cruz was also strong. Like the last debate, he and Rubio are going to get the buzz out of this.
In a lot of ways this debate ratifies the status quo going in. No game-changers in that sense. Rand Paul showed up for the first time, but it’s not clear he has much of a constituency in this party. —Molly Ball
11:18 pm: At the start of the debate, I wondered whether Jeb Bush’s decision to hire a media trainer would show on the debate stage and it did, a little bit. Bush’s delivery seems to have improved, but maybe not enough to get him out of his low polling digits. Meanwhile, Marco Rubio again delivered a strong performance. What the two didn’t do is go head-to-head like they had in the last Republican debate. Maybe because doing so just wouldn’t work. It certainly didn’t for Bush then and it’s unlikely it would have for Rubio tonight. And it also may answer the question my colleague Russell Berman noted earlier: Will Bush leave his Super PAC to do the dirty work? Looks like that’s a strong possibility. —Priscilla Alvarez
11:16 pm: Trump: “I’m self-funding my campaign…the United States can be better than ever before.” —Molly Ball
11:15 pm: Rubio: “The 21st century can be a new American century.” —Molly Ball
11:15 pm: Rubio, remembering why he’s here tonight, unlike some of his competitors: “I ask you for your vote.” —Marina Koren
11:14 pm: Cruz: “If we get back to the free-market principles and constitutional liberties that built this country, we can turn this nation around.” —Molly Ball
11:13 pm: In contrast, Spain needs a divider-in-chief to amicably part with the Catalonians and Basques. —Conor Friedersdorf
11:13 pm: Jeb: “I don’t think we need an agitator in chief or a divider in chief, we need a commander in chief.”—Molly Ball
Two of the presidential candidates who gained the most traction out of the last Republican debate are a pair of 44-year-old Cuban-Americans who are first-term U.S. senators.
There the similarity ends, and their differences define a fork in the road for the Republican Party.
Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, after standout performances at the debate in Colorado last month, have both seen a spike in media attention, donations and poll standings. But they are appealing to very different wings of the GOP electorate, with Mr. Cruz rallying anti-Washington conservative forces and Mr. Rubio drawing strength from to the party’s business-friendly establishment wing.
Their differences of both style and substance will surface again Tuesday in the third GOP debate in Milwaukee, where both senators will try to keep the momentum going in a forum focusing on economic issues.
Mr. Cruz rails against illegal immigrants; Mr. Rubio takes a more welcoming approach. Mr. Cruz opposed President Barack Obama’s fast-track trade bill; Mr. Rubio supported it. Mr. Cruz traffics in the highflying oratory of an evangelical minister’s son; Mr. Rubio’s brand of eloquence is more low key.
Both senators still trail the political novices— Donald Trump and Ben Carson—who lead the GOP field. But the Cruz-Rubio surge raises a surprising prospect: Two Cuban Americans are moving from long-shot to top-tier candidates in a party that has struggled to win support from Hispanic voters.
Mr. Cruz said it was “plausible” that the primary would wind up being a Rubio-Cruz face off, citing the history of GOP contests that pitted a conservative against a more moderate candidate.
“I think Marco is certainly formidable,” Mr. Cruz said. But, he added, ”once it gets down to a head-to-head contest between a conservative and a moderate…I think the conservative wins.”
A super PAC supporting Mr. Cruz took off the gloves last week in an ad in Iowa that attacked Mr. Rubio for his record on immigration.
“We all loved how Marco Rubio took apart Jeb Bush in the debate,” says the narrator of an ad from the pro-Cruz PAC, Courageous Conservatives. “But what’s Rubio ever done?…Marco Rubio looks good on TV, but that’s about it.’’
That is a change in rhetoric from a major Senate debate in 2013—the filibuster to block funding for Obamacare—when Mr. Cruz showered his colleague with praise. “I don’t know if there is anyone more effective, more articulate, or a more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio,” Mr. Cruz said.
Yale University has been plunged into campus-wide debate and protest over issues of racial sensitivity and free speech so tense it’s turning into a national news story, and it all began with two emails about Halloween costumes.
On October 28, a university committee on intercultural affairs sent a campus-wide email urging students to reconsider Halloween costumes that might be racially insensitive. In response a few days later, a lecturer in early childhood development sent an email to the few hundred students in her residential college questioning whether the first email had been necessary and worrying that universities had become “places of censure and prohibition.”
Within a week’s time, the two emails had led to protests, dramatic confrontations between students and faculty members, and a statement from the university’s president that he was “deeply troubled” by students’ concerns.
The dispute that started it all might seem trivial. But the uproar is tapping into deeper issues of racism and free speech at the Ivy League university, issues similar to those faced by many American colleges that have come to the forefront this year.
Here’s what happened and why it’s become such a controversy at Yale and nationally.
How dueling e-mails about Halloween costumes led to protests at Yale
Every year, without fail, some college students somewhere take Halloween as an opportunity to wear something breathtakingly offensive, including students at Yalewho wore blackface in 2007. So, this year, Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email urging students to consider whether their “funny” costumes might not be so funny:
Halloween is also unfortunately a time when the normal thoughtfulness and sensitivity of most Yale students can sometimes be forgotten and some poor decisions can be made including wearing feathered headdresses, turbans, wearing ‘war paint’ or modifying skin tone or wearing blackface or redface. These same issues and examples of cultural appropriation and/or misrepresentation are increasingly surfacing with representations of Asians and Latinos.
Such emails are becoming an annual ritual on some campuses. The University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota, and Ohio University all urged their students to wear culturally sensitive costumes in 2013. One of the administrators who signed the Yale email, Burgwell Howard, sent an almost identical note to Northwestern students in 2010, the year after a blackface scandal at that university.
Erika Christakis, a lecturer at Yale in early childhood education, objected to all this. She sent an email to the few hundred students in Sillman College, one of Yale’s 12 residential colleges, saying she applauded the goal but questioned whether the e-mail was really necessary.
“I don’t, actually, trust myself to foist my Halloweenish standards and motives on others,” she wrote, adding:
I wonder, and I am not trying to be provocative: Is there no room anymore for a child or young person to be a little bit obnoxious… a little bit inappropriate or provocative or, yes, offensive? American universities were once a safe space not only for maturation but also for a certain regressive, or even transgressive, experience; increasingly, it seems, they have become places of censure and prohibition.
She also passed along a message from her husband Nicholas Christakis, a Yale professor of psychology and Sillman College’s master, saying that, rather than having the university tell students what to wear and not wear, students should deal with it themselves.
Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.
The email infuriated a number of students who saw it as downplaying important racial sensitivity issues. More than 740 Yale students signed an open lettercriticizing Christakis’ email for minimizing the concerns of students of color. On Thursday, some were reportedly drafting a letter calling for both Christakises to resign as masters of Sillman College.
Nicholas Christakis apologized Friday, though saying he thought his wife’s email was well-intended: “We understand that it was hurtful to you, and we are truly sorry,” he wrote in an email to Sillman students, according to the Yale Daily News. “We understand that many students feel voiceless in diverse ways and we want you to know that we hear you and we will support you.”
Republicans now have a list of demands.
Still reeling from what Republican Party chief Reince Priebus called “gotcha” questions last week in the CNBC primary debate that were “petty and mean-spirited in tone,” campaign operatives huddled over the weekend to address the Great Debate crisis of 2015.
Indeed, by suspending a Feb. 26 debate scheduled to be hosted by NBC News and the NBC-owned, Spanish-language network Telemundo, Republicans signaled that the latest bout of media catcalls from the right — catcalls that have been part of working the refs for decades — have attained almost mythical status.
Republicans, in mid-game, are now trying to dictate the terms of the debates. Donald Trump is even negotiating directly with television executives in an effort to alter the content and format. The unprecedented blitz sends a clear message that if moderators aren’t nice to candidates and if there are any objections over “tone,” future debates might get yanked.
“What happened in this debate wasn’t an attack by the press on the candidates. It was an attack by the candidates on the press,” wrote William Saletan at Slate. “Presented with facts and figures that didn’t fit their story, the leading Republican candidates accused the moderators of malice and deceit.”
But will Republicans get away with it? Early signs look promising for the GOP, less promising for journalism.