Forum gives GOP candidates a warm-up for Thursday debates

Campaign 2016
by Kent Covington & Nick Eicher
Posted 8/05/15, 12:15 pm

The staff of The World and Everything in It has profiled 22 possible 2016 presidential candidates in its “White House Wednesday” series. Now they take a look at who’s ahead and who’s making moves as the big campaign gets closer.

On Monday night, 11 GOP presidential contenders gathered in New Hampshire for the Voters First Forum. Three more candidates, Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas, joined in via satellite from Washington; they stayed on Capitol Hill that day for the vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. 

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and real-estate billionaire Donald Trump were the only two major candidates to sit out the event. Participants took the stage one at a time, and each had two rounds of questioning.

Many of them took aim at Democrats instead of attacking each other. 

“This president’s trying to turn the American dream into the European nightmare. He’s trying to make us more dependent on government,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said. “Give Bernie Sanders credit, at least he’s honest enough to call himself a socialist. Hillary Clinton, President Obama, they’re no better. They’re just not honest enough to call themselves socialists.”

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, sounded off on Obamacare, which he said takes liberties away from the American people.  

Obamacare comes along with the government saying we don’t care what you the people think. We’re shoving this down your throat, and if you don’t like it, too bad,” Carson said.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry got a chance to talk about border security. He noted he took steps to safeguard the southern U.S. border in his state, sending the Texas National Guard and other assets to the frontlines amid a surge in illegal immigration last summer.

“If you elect me president of the United States, I will promise you one thing: The will to secure that border will reside in the Oval Office,” Perry said. 

For Perry and another half-dozen Republican underdogs at the event, the forum was a chance to appear on equal footing with the rest of the field. In a pair of GOP debates Thursday night, only the top 10 polling candidates will appear on prime-time television.

Listen to “White House Wednesday” on The World and Everything in It.

Clinton tried to soften her image with ads

Hillary Clinton is taking steps to polish her image and counter attacks by Republicans and her Democratic rivals. She rolled out the first TV commercials of her campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire. 

When I think about why I’m doing this, I think about my mother Dorothy,” Clinton says in the spot. “She was abandoned by her parents at the age of 8, sent from Chicago to L.A. to live with grandparents who didn’t want her. But people showed her kindness, gave her a chance.”

The warm and nostalgic ads are designed to paint a softer portrait of Clinton, perhaps a tactical response to recent polls that suggest a majority of voters find her untrustworthy and unlikeable.

In another just-released ad, Clinton goes on the offensive for abortion, standing with Planned Parenthood. And in a Friday document dump last week, the Clinton campaign released eight years of her tax returns.

The Clintons earned more than $140 million from 2007 to 2014. Some people don’t like the fact that the Clintons’ wealth has come almost entirely through public service. Some circles on the left have demonized the rich in recent years. So her bank account is not something she likes to talk about. 

Nick Eicher

Nick lives in St. Louis, loves the Blues (as in the NHL), is executive producer of WORLD Radio, and co-hosts WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickEicher.

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