Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace gives a quick recap of the Republican debate featuring candidates who poll in the lower tier in the presidential nominee race:
1) I've been arguing for one big debate with all credible candidates, rather than this two-tier system. This debate made me change my mind. We've got 16 candidates. How about four debates with four candidates each? Much more of a chance to hear from each person, and much more interesting interaction between them. Plus, it's good TV.
2) Gov. Bobby Jindal trotted out most of his familiar go-to lines. He talked about how his immigrant parents didn't come to the U.S. to be hyphenated Americans, and how the United States didn't create religious liberty but religious liberty created the United States. He hit one of his regular arguments, "the idea of America is slipping away," particularly hard. I'd really like to know what Jindal means by that. Specifics, please.
3) Jindal and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania seemed more testy than the other two candidates, probably because they have more to lose. Each is attempting to break into the top tier, which is already stocked with 11 other Republicans, and each knows that appearing on the undercard damages his public image and fundraising potential. That said, if anyone earned the right to move up, as Carly Fiorina did after the last debate, it was probably South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was loose, funny, angry and unpredictable.
4) Most memorable moments, by candidate:
Former New York Gov. George Pataki stood up for the rule of law, and said he'd fire Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who cited her own religious freedom in refusing to issue wedding licenses despite the U.S. Supreme Court's recognition of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. Jindal, of course, has defended Davis' right to refuse to comply and still collect her public paycheck. Graham sided with Pataki, and Santorum sided with Jindal.
Santorum broke with GOP orthodoxy in backing a modest minimum wage increase and noted that most voters are wage earners, not business owners.
"How are we going to win if 90 percent of Americans think we don't care about them?" he asked.
Graham spoke up for bipartisanship, with wine. Noting that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill started off drinking together and wound up partnering on legislation, he said that "that's the first thing we're going to do as president. We're going to drink more."
Jindal called the appointment and confirmation of three Republican-appointed Supreme Court Justices a "mistake." He was talking about Chief Justice John Roberts, who voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act, along with Anthony Kennedy and David Souter.