GOP candidates spend another night on stage

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Donald Trump speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), in National Harbor, Maryland on Feb. 27, 2015. (Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore)

Republican presidential candidates took the stage as part of the GOP debate on CNN on Wednesday.

The debate was split into two groups. The first group consisted of Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. George Pataki, and Sen. Lindsey Graham. The candidates who participated in the second group were: Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul and Gov. John Kasich.

The debate discussed issues from illegal immigration to marijuana legalization and taxation reform to international policy. Candidates were challenged, asked personal questions and allowed to debate amongst themselves; there were times of jovial banter and strongly worded debate.

In Manhattan, many people tuned in to the debate, ready to hear what these candidates had to say.

“I am ready to get into the issues,” Laura Meyers, president of the K-State College Republicans, said. “I want to hear specific ideas and plans.”

Meanwhile, Michael Gassmann, the chair of the Riley County Democratic Party, said he met the debate with a cautious demeanor.

“Right now, it is all about whoever says it the loudest and most outrageous gets attention,” Gassmann said. “Everyone is jockeying for position, kind of like a wrestlemania match. Unfortunately, the media goes along with it.”

During the debate, there were many plans and viewpoints discussed, such as Planned Parenthood funding, international security, illegal immigration and taxation. These viewpoints often brought dispute.

Previous to the debate, Trump had made comments about Fiorina’s appearance.

“Look at that face,” Trump said. “Would anyone vote for that?”

Florina replied directly to Trump’s comment.

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Trump said,” Fiorina said.

However, it wasn’t that type of banter that many voters were listening for. At the K-State College Republicans’ watch party, many students came with an avid desire to hear the important issues discussed. There was many an applause at the event, and a lot of discussion on who was doing well.

“The debate went surprisingly well considering it’s a CNN debate,” Austin McCampbell, senior in history, said.

Kerrick Kuder, senior in political science, had a different view.

“The CNN questions tried to make candidates strike at each other,” Kuder said. “It was nice to see the candidates made a point to show respect to each other.”

It is the issues those candidates debated that are most concerning to voters.

When asked about his beliefs on taxing and how he believed the tax system should be rewritten, Carson discussed his plans on a “fair tax,” which draws on the biblical concept of tithing.

“If someone makes $10 billion they owe $1 billion in taxes, and if someone makes $10 they owe $1 in taxes,” Carson said.

When asked about his immigration policy views, Trump discussed his beliefs on illegal immigration.

“I want to build a wall, a wall that works,” Trump said. “We don’t have a country, we don’t have a border. I don’t think you’d be asking these questions if I didn’t run.”

Cruz discussed his beliefs on why he is working to take funding away from Planned Parenthood, even if that means a possible federal government shut down.

“I am proud to stand for life,” Cruz said about the issue.

For some it seems very early for debates and discussions to be already happening, but others welcomed the event. Many at the watch party said they felt that the early debates allowed for the candidates to articulate their ideas and help voters make those decisions early on in the race.

Gassmann had a different opinion about the early races.

“No, these debates are not important,” Gassmann said. “They are driven by the media and the pollsters. The voice of the average American is not being heard.”

Regardless of political views, the debate seemed to spark thought from many across Manhattan. It is only the beginning of the long presidential race that will be ending at voting booths next November.

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