The Unpundit Mom’s Scorecard for CNN’s GOP Presidential Debate

By Jennifer Hartline Published on September 18, 2015

I’m calling Wednesday night’s GOP debates for Rick Santorum in the undercard debate and Carly Fiorina in the main event. It was a profitable debate with many substantive moments. We have a good crop of candidates from which to choose, and that’s exciting. There’s no overstating the importance of the 2016 election.

The Undercard

The undercard debate featured Governor George Petaki, Senator Rick Santorum, Governor Bobby Jindal, and Senator Lindsey Graham. Petaki showed his colors and his ignorance fairly early on when he said he’d have fired county clerk Kim Davis if she worked for him, and then implied America will become like Iran if “religion supersedes the rule of law”  we actually allow people the freedom to live their faith in public. That pesky First Amendment! Bye bye, George.

Graham won points for his self-deprecating humor, if nothing else. He at least understands that the current approach to dealing with ISIS will never succeed, and an ocean won’t keep them away from our doorstep. He’s a party pragmatist to a fault, though, and lacks the will to do the right thing if he thinks it’s not politically expedient. Thanks for the laughs, Lindsey, but so long.

Jindal was passionate about defunding Planned Parenthood, and his actions in Louisiana show that he means what he says. He also had one of the best lines of the night regarding religious freedom: “America did not create religious liberty. Religious liberty created the United States of America.” Amen to that, Bobby.

Santorum demonstrated more than anyone else in either debate that he has not lost touch with the reality of life for blue-collar workers. He is zealous about revitalizing America’s manufacturing industry and creating jobs and more jobs. He clearly understands the mindset of the radical Islamists in Iran, and thus the grave threat of a nuclear Iran. His absolutely unwavering defense of the child in the womb is unimpeachable. He is articulate and steadfast in his defense of religious liberty and true marriage. His strong closing remarks made his case convincingly. He’s the genuine article.

The Main Event

The “main event,” as CNN called it, was a packed stage of the “top-tier” candidates, and Donald Trump was front and center. He was his usual narcissistic self, but perhaps slightly less bombastic. Several times the debate got sucked into the Trump vortex of schoolyard tit-for-tat, and as distracting and annoying as it is, perhaps Trump’s presence is a gift in disguise. He could be the fire by which the other candidates are refined and purified. At any rate, he was deftly put in his place by a clever lady.

Carly Fiorina was a force to be reckoned with. To paraphrase the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, a man will rise to the level of a virtuous woman, and Fiorina proved him right in that debate. She got Trump to behave like a gentleman and treat her like a lady because she refused to get caught in his stupid, sexist, self-serving games. Asked about Trump’s classless joke about her face, she calmly replied, “I think women in America heard very clearly what Trump said.” Yes ma’am, we sure did.

Fiorina was on fire with resolute courage and conviction, and she nailed it when she said defunding Planned Parenthood is about the character of our nation. She confronted Congress on their timidity in passing the necessary legislation. She was right to say shame on all of us if we don’t force Obama to stake his claim in answer to the hideousness contained in the videos exposing Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Marco Rubio were all solidly impressive, commanding and possessed of the kind of character we need in a leader. I was especially glad to hear Rubio repeatedly highlight the disastrous foolishness of eviscerating our military as Obama is presently doing. Our nation would benefit immensely from each of them in strategic positions, even if not the presidency.

Dr. Ben Carson’s gentle manner is often a refreshing change of pace. He could use a bit more energy and zing in these debate settings, though when he states his case, he does it eloquently and plainly. Plain, in this case, is never a bad thing.

Speaking of plain-spoken, hats off to Gov. Chris Christie for his particular gift of candor. He’s fearless, and I do like that. I was thrilled to hear him speak of “prosecuting” Hillary Clinton. Somebody sure needs to.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for this Unpundit Mom is morality, character and courage. Please spare me the meaningless blather about a “sweeping conservative agenda.”

We need a leader who sees the threat of radical Islam for what it is and is willing to call it what it is. We need to stop placating lunatics who want to kill us. Why does that even need to be said?!?

I want a candidate who speaks directly about defending religious liberty; about the family as the foundation of society; about the unchangeable nature of marriage between a man and a woman regardless of the Supreme Court’s penchant for making government the sole guarantor of “dignity” and pulling non-existent rights out of their penumbras.

I have not a moment to waste on any candidate who will not commit to protecting the child in the womb. America must no longer be a barbaric nation that treats preborn babies as both inconsequential nothings and lucrative parts for sale, and our federal government has no business propping up such a hideous industry with half a billion dollars every year. This has nothing at all to do with women’s health, and it certainly isn’t “reproductive justice.” What’s happening in our country is savage and diabolical, period.

The national descent into chaos has picked up breath-taking speed in the last 7 years. We need a candidate who is willing to act with conviction, courage and right reason. It’s never been more critical that we, the voters, choose wisely.

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