Things got testy at Wednesday's GOP presidential debate when CNBC's Becky Quick asked Donald Trump about his criticism of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (who supports expanding the number of visas offered to highly skilled workers). The GOP front-runner, running on a staunchly anti-immigration platform, didn't just play dumb—he went on the attack. Trump alleged that the Zuckerberg story had been fabricated by the media. When Quick followed up with the actual quote from Trump, he again denied having ever said it.
It didn't take long for Wednesday's Republican presidential debate to devolve into an angry back-and-forth between rival candidates. And for once, it was actually kind of substantive.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich spent his first moments on camera attacking what he considered to be his party's drift toward the fringe. Although he didn't mention candidates by name, he hammered Donald Trump's proposal for mass deportation of undocumented residents; Ben Carson's decision to base his tax rate on biblical tithing; and many of the other candidates' support for throwing millions of people off the insurance rolls.
Trump didn't take that sitting down. He sniped back, noting that Kasich worked at the investment banking firm Lehmann Brothers prior to the company's collapse in the 2008 financial crisis. Then they fought over what, exactly, Kasich's role at the company was. (He was a managing director of the investment banking division.)
Editor's note: MotherJones reporter Tim Murphy recently acquired a time machine. But he didn't go back into the past and kill baby Hitler. Instead, he traveled forward in time to Boulder, Colorado, to watch Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate. Here's his report.
No one ever accused Donald Trump of bringing a knife to a gun fight. Wednesday’s showdown in Boulder was the first debate in which billionaire real-estate mogul Trump was not the Republican front-runner. Though he still holds double-digit leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Trump recently dropped into second place in Iowa, and on Tuesday, after leading the GOP pack for 100 days, he trailed Ben Carson in a national poll.
But if Trump had an intention of moderating his style, it didn't show. He stayed on the offensive throughout the night. When CNBC moderator John Harwood asked Trump if he believed Congress should raise the debt ceiling, he pivoted to attack Carson for his Seventh-day Adventist beliefs ("China has eight days"). And he raised a childhood incident in which the former pediatric neurosurgeon tried to stab a friend with a knife. Carson's blade became caught in his friend's belt buckle—no harm was done—and Carson has long credited the lucky break with turning his life around.
"When I stab someone, I stab them in the belly, where the flesh is softest," Trump said. "That is how you do it. That way you can get right to their organs, and do a really tremendous amount of damage, very serious bleeding. This guy was a surgeon?"
Louisiana Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne is one of four major contenders in Saturday's gubernatorial election. He has also received international recognition for his terrible puns.
Beginning in 2003, when he was a state senator, and continuing through his tenure as Louisiana secretary of state, Dardenne has regularly submitted original, single-sentence works of prose to the Bulwer–Lytton Fiction Contest, "a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels." The contest, hosted by San Jose State University, takes its name from the opening sentence of Edward George Bulwer–Lytton's 1830 novel, Paul Clifford—the first, but mercifully not last, usage of the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night..."
Dardenne's crowning literary achievement, noted on his campaign website, was his 2005 entry, which was a winner in the "vile puns" division. It went like this:
Falcon was her name and she was quite the bird of prey, sashaying past her adolescent admirers from one anchor store to another, past the kiosks where earrings longed to lie upon her lobes and sunglasses hoped to nestle on her nose, seemingly the beginning of a beautiful friendship with whomsoever caught the eye of the mall tease, Falcon.
He can really Hammet up when he wants to.
Dardenne has also twice received a "dishonorable mention" for his submissions. Like his 2003 entry:
The final auction item in the estate was the electric home in the frozen tundra, often referred to as "the top of the world," even though the world doesn't really have a top (or a bottom for that matter), and it was expected that Mrs. Claus, a pleasantly plump lady who smelled of cookie dough, would again have to outbid the jovial fat man’s former employees to purchase his assets, that is until the gavel fell and the auctioneer announced solemnly, "The elves have left the building."
"Dimwitted and flushed, Sgt. John Head was frustrated by his constipated attempts to arrest the so-called 'Bathroom Burglar' until, while wiping his brow, he realized that each victim had been robbed in a men's room, thereby focusing his attention on the janitor, whose cleaning habits clearly established a commodus operandi."
The judges weren't exactly bowled over by that.
In Louisiana's jungle primary, the top two vote-getters advance to a November runoff election if no candidate wins a majority. Dardenne has cast himself as a scandal-free alternative to fellow Republican, Sen. David Vitter.
Less than 24 hours from election day, the Louisiana governor's race has devolved into a tangled back and forth over whether a sitting US senator had a love child with a purported prostitute.
It started on Saturday, when Jason Berry, an independent journalist who writes about Louisiana politics for a website called American Zombie, posted portions of an on-camera interview he'd conducted with a woman named Wendy Ellis, who alleged that Republican Sen. David Vitter—the Republican front-runner in the governor's race—had paid her for sex in New Orleans in the late 1990s. Ellis had alleged as much in Hustler in 2007, after Vitter's name was found in the phone logs of the so-called "DC Madam," and she'd taken a polygraph test to support her claim. Vitter apologized for an unspecified "very serious sin" in connection with the DC Madam scandal, but he has long denied the "New Orleans stories," while declining to answer specific questions. But now she is charging something new: that Vitter paid her for services for three years (not the four months she initially claimed), and that he pressured her to get an abortion—to no avail—after she revealed she was carrying his child.
His top opponents in Saturday's election (the top two vote-getters go to a November runoff if no one gets a majority) weighed in almost immediately with cautious statements about the latest allegations, and at a debate on Wednesday, Republican public service commissioner Scott Angelle asked Louisianans to watch Ellis' videos before casting their votes. As he put it, "We have a stench that is getting ready to come over Louisiana."
But in the days since Berry's story first published, some of Vitter's loudest critics distanced themselves from the allegations. Clancy DuBos, politics editor of the New Orleans alt-weekly The Gambit, took down his site's article on the videos, citing "holes in parts of the woman's story." Progressive blogger Lamar White Jr. (who broke the story about Rep. Steve Scalise palling around with David Duke) wrote that "Ellis's story, in my humble opinion, is destructive, because it is riddled with huge holes; it is flawed; and with all due respect to the reporter, it was not properly vetted."