8 WTF Moments from Last Night's Republican Debate

Tune into SiriusXM Channel 121 at 12 ET to hear more with Matt Welch, Gavin McInnes and Liz Mair


As Robby Soave noted in the wee small hours, last night's GOP was a hot mess without the presence of libertarianish candidate Rand Paul (whose decision to skip the kids' table may have been one of the better strategic moves of yesterday). There are many gruesome moments in the transcript; my colleagues have already identified nonsense-sandwiches on military intervention, government spending, the Iran hostage crisis and gun control.

Here are eight other WTF moments to make you shudder for your country. I'll be discussing them today on SiriusXM Insight (channel 121) at noon, when I host the Insight Hour, with guests Gavin McInnes and Liz Mair. Please call in at 877-974-7487 to join the conversation:

CHRIS CRISTIE: And [President Obama] allows states to go ahead and do whatever they want on a substance that's illegal. This president allows lawlessness throughout this country. Here's what I would do Neil, I would appoint an Attorney General and I would have one very brief conversation with that Attorney General. I'd say, "General, enforce the law against everyone justly, fairly, and aggressively. Make our streets safe again. Make our police officers proud of what they do but more important than that, let them know how proud we are of them."

Reality check: The Drug Enforcement Agency has about 5,000 agents. Enforcing federal drug laws in states that have legalized recreational marijuana would require many more times that number. Federal law enforcement requires (better) discretion.

BEN CARSON: You know, you go to the internet, you start reading an article and you go to the comments section—you cannot go five comments down before people are calling each all manner of names. Where did that spirit come from in America? It did not come from our Judeo-Christian roots, I can tell you that. 

Note: Ben Carson cannot stop comparing America to Nazi Germany.

JEB! BUSH: In the crowd today is Major General James Livingston, who's the co-chairman of my campaign here in South Carolina, a Medal of Honor recipient. I've learned from him that what we need to achieve is peace through strength, which means we need to rebuild the military.

Not only did Bush hat-tip his Lenny Skutnik right at the top, he made it sound like "peace through strength" was some kind of novel concept.

JOHN KASICH: Well, let me—let me first of all talk a little bit about my experience. I served on the Defense Committee for 18 years, and by the way, one of the members of that committee was Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina. Let me also tell you…that after the 9/11 attacks, Secretary Rumsfeld invited me to the Pentagon with a meeting of the former secretaries of Defense. And in that meeting, I suggested we had a problem with technology, and that I wanted to take people from Silicon Valley into the Pentagon to solve our most significant problems. So I not only had the opportunity to go through the Cold War struggles in Central America, and even after 9/11 to be involved.

Note: This was in response to a question about Iran.

DONALD TRUMP: That could be the great Trojan Horse. It could be people that are going to do great, great destruction. When I look at the migration, I looked at the line, I said it actually on your show recently, where are the women? It looked like very few women. Very few children. Strong, powerful men, young and people are looking at that and they're saying what's going on?

Note: The majority of Syrian refugees to the United States are not, and almost certainly will continue to not be, military-aged males.

MARCO RUBIO: Let me tell you, if we don't get this election right, there may be no turning back for America. We're on the verge of being the first generation of Americans that leave our children worse off than ourselves.

That old saw again?

TED CRUZ: I think what we need is a commander in chief who is focused like a laser on keeping this country safe and on defeating radical Islamic terrorism. What should we do? First, we should pass the Expatriate Terrorist Act, legislation I've introduced that says if an American goes and joins ISIS and wages jihad against America, that you forfeit your citizenship and you can not come in on a passport.

Even if that wasn't a terrible idea, surely that should not come "first" in your anti-ISIS strategy.

And since Donald Trump was so marvelously incoherent about trade and China, I'll leave you with this word-salad:

DONALD TRUMP: Now, on that tariff—here's what I'm saying, China—they send their goods and we don't tax it—they do whatever they want to do. They do whatever what they do, OK. When we do business with China, they tax us. You don't know it, they tax us.

I have many friends that deal with China. They can't—when they order the product and when they finally get the product it is taxed. If you looking at what happened with Boeing and if you look at what happened with so many companies that deal—so we don't have an equal playing field. I'm saying, absolutely, we don't have to continue to lose 505 billion dollars as a trade deficit for the privilege of dealing with China.

I'm a free trader. I believe in it but we have to be smart and we have to use smart people to negotiate. I have the largest bank in the world as a tenant of mine. I sell tens' of millions of (inaudible). I love China. I love the Chinese people but they laugh themselves, they can't believe how stupid the American leadership is.

CAVUTO: So you're open to a tariff?

TRUMP: I'm totally open to a tariff. If they don't treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed. You can't deal in China without tariffs. They do it to us, we don't it. It's not fair trade. […]

CAVUTO: [Bush] is right. If you put a tariff on a good, it's Americans who pay.

BUSH: Absolutely.

TRUMP: You looking at me?

BUSH: Yeah.

BARTIROMO: Prices go higher for…

TRUMP: Can I tell you what? It will never happen because they'll let their currency go up. They're never going to let it happen. Japan, the same thing. They are devaluing—it's so impossible for—you look at Caterpillar Tractor and what's happening with Caterpillar and Kamatsu (ph). Kamatsu (ph) is a tractor company in Japan. Friends of mine are ordering Kamatsu (ph) tractors now because they've de-valued the yen to such an extent that you can't buy a Caterpillar tractor. And we're letting them get away with it and we can't let them get away with it. 

And that's why we have to use Carl (ph) and we have to use our great businesspeople and not political hacks to negotiate with these guys.