Things were testy and acrimonious from the jump Saturday night at the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.
This was going to be tense regardless as the contestants for the GOP presidential nomination had winnowed to six, and separation is needed quickly.
Prior to the debate commencing, it was announced that Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon on the U.S. Supreme Court had passed away.
This sent a ripple through debate preparation and spin rooms across Washington, DC and in South Carolina.
As the Obama administration is coming to a close, this unexpected opportunity to add a possible liberal voice to the Supreme Court would shore up a left leaning majority for years to come.
Republicans wasted no time framing a desperate and transparent plea to Democrats.
Fully realizing the sitting president must address any vacancies on the court, Rubio and others requested that such an important nomination wait to be filled by the next president to take office, as Obama is term-limited.
Cruz later threatened to filibuster any nominee sent forward by Obama.
Unfortunately for the Republicans the fact of the matter is Justice Scalia passed away under “this” administration, and President Obama will select his suitable replacement.
The rest of the debate was more of a grade-school lunch fight. Taunts and wild swings were flying from all directions throughout.
With each passing altercation, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders became all the more presidential in appearance.
New York financier Donald Trump pushed his bets further into the red by calling out Jeb Bush’s brother and the Bush administration as being liars in terms of the evidence used to invade Iraq; called the war a mistake; and charged the previous president with failing to keep America safe.
This was the official public unveiling of a more extreme faction within the mainstream Republican Party. One that openly contradicts its leadership, operates under a more militant, right-leaning doctrine, and accepts isolationism, religious persecution and torture.
It’s unclear how proponents are going to square this with the U.S. Constitution and its laws, but that should be interesting to observe going forward.
Handling himself best last night was Jeb Bush, as he was capable of portraying a conservative and a pragmatist. His stock is rising.
Gov. John Kasich (OH) played his positive politician card again, and pleaded for all negative attacks to stop in order to allow the candidates to discuss the issues without distractions. Kasich is a nice guy, but not considered a threat yet.
Adding to the spectacle was a statement from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in discussing the passing of Justice Scalia, intoned that the resulting Supreme Court vacancy should not be filled under the current president, setting up a hot parallel storyline of congressional obstructionism that will play out alongside the ongoing presidential nominating contest and November general election.
This just keeps getting better…!