The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday March 25th

GOP candidates work to stand out in debate

The second Republican presidential primary debate, held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., covered policy issues like immigration, nuclear deals and women’s health — and it was not without its personal attacks.

“We don’t need an apprentice in the White House,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in reference to Trump.

Before the debate, Jason Husser, a professor of political science at Elon University, said while policy issues were likely to be discussed more this time, a lot of eyes would still be on Trump and how he and the other candidates would interact.

“Trump needs to be able to show that he has policy grounds to work from, that it’s not just about smoke,” Husser said.

D. Sunshine Hillygus, a professor of political science at Duke University, said the candidates’ main goal for the debate would be to establish and differentiate themselves from the others.

“They’re all looking for the one-liner that can be easily quotable,” Hillygus said.

She said since it’s primary season, voters are going to be more fluid in their preferences than they are in the general election. She said the debate actually does matter because it allows voters to decide who would represent them best, and who could succeed in the general election.

“The type of information that matters in the primary is very different from what matters in the general election because the primary voters are again trying to make some determination about electability and viability,” Hillygus said.

Husser said with Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Trump all running as outsider candidates, Carson — the least experienced of the three at dealing with public officials and interaction — would need to show he understands the way government works.

“Carson, right now, is in a position that he could take Trump’s mantle as the outsider candidate,” Husser said. “He has pitched himself as an outsider who’s much softer and friendlier than Trump, but also with an intellectual spin to himself.”

During the debate, Fiorina said people are choosing non-politicians because of their ability to understand the citizens. “If someone’s been in the system the whole life, they don’t know how broken the system is,” Fiorina said.

Frank Pray, chairman of the UNC College Republicans, said he was looking forward to seeing the candidates emerge in the debate.

“I love that we have the world’s best neurosurgeon, a few great U.S. senators, a few governors with amazing records, a businesswoman who is a far better alternative than Hillary Clinton and a businessman whose business has been so successful that his name is synonymous with real estate across the world,” he said in an email.

Husser said with so many candidates at the debate, it would be nearly impossible to have one winner. He said it’s more about how many points they can obtain, rather than a winner-takes-all system.

“It is much more a (question of) did this person seem competent, did this person seem able to potentially hold the presidency?” Husser said.



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