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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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GOP candidates step back into ring with CNN debates

GOP+debate
Graphic by: Regan Brunsvold
GOP debate

The second Republican Party debates of the 2016 presidential cycle, hosted by CNN, are set to roll Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Jake Tapper, the anchor of CNN’s Sunday program “State of the Union,” will moderate while CNN political correspondent Dana Bash and radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt ask questions.
The prime time debate, held at 7 p.m. Central Time, will be preceded by the so-called “happy-hour” debate at 5 p.m. Central Time. While the prime time session will host the 11 front-runners — including Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina — the earlier event will host the four candidates who are all polling at 1 percent or below.
Kirby Goibel, fellow at the Public Policy Research Institute and communication professor, said watchers can expect big issues like immigration, foreign policy, taxes and jobs to make an appearance.
“I think foreign policy is one of those issues that’s going to be hit on because there is a sense that Donald Trump is the frontrunner, and he doesn’t really care that much about the details,” Goibel said. “He’s a big picture guy. So I think they’re going to test him a little bit.”
Amol Shalia, senior geophysics major and president of the Texas Aggie Democrats, expects to see a very similar prime-time debate to the one held in early-August in terms of substance.
“What we’ll probably be seeing is a repeat of last time where the circus rolls into town again, because last time we didn’t really see much policy discussed,” Shalia said. “We saw a clash of personalities. And that makes great entertainment, but it’s not qualities we’re really looking for in the president of the United States.”
Nick Ritcher, forensic science freshman, said the debate can help voters learn more about each candidate in a way that is more accessible than doing independent research. 
“I feel like the Republican Party gets bashed for a couple issues, but it is an all-encompassing party,” Ritcher said. “There are a lot of things that other people can identify with, and this debate style will open up the Republican race and show people just how spread out it is.”
Shalia said the GOP does have candidates with experience who are capable of talking about substantive issues, but they can’t be heard over the frontrunners — something he said makes the Democratic Party’s job that much easier.
“It’s true that they do have a lot of candidates out there who are I guess experienced, but the problem is that you’ve got guys like Donald Trump and Dr. Carson who are essentially destroying in the polls and are preventing candidates that one would typically consider legitimate to really shine,” Shalia said.
Chris Bettiol, agribusiness freshman, said he feels Trump is a more economically experienced candidate, while Carson brings a unique perspective to the conversation. 
“I feel like, from an economic standpoint, Donald Trump has more experience than others,” Bettiol said. “I also am a supporter of Ben Carson as well because he brings a very subjective opinion towards everything since he’s new to the race and he looks at everything from a logical perspective and not so much of an emotional perspective.
Sam Alders, business sophomore, said paying attention to the debates is important from the standpoint of civic engagement.
“When we’re talking about presidential debates, we’re talking about the most important person who wields the most power in our country, who has the most influence over the whole United States of America,” Alders said. “The least we can do is make an informed decision about who is going to be in that role, moving forward.”
Chris Bettiol, a agribusiness freshman, echoed Alders sentiments.
“It’s always good to have a political opinion, especially because we’re voting for people.” Bettiol said “You don’t want to vote blindly for someone you don’t actually support.”
Shalia said he hopes candidates talk about issues that impact average Americans Wednesday.
“The issues we want to see discussed are issues that are important to Americans everywhere.” Shalia said. “Issues about income inequality, issues about climate change, the offensive amount of money that’s in politics today — those issues weren’t brought up at all in the last debate, and we’re hoping that this debate guys like Jake Tapper or Dana Bash or Hugh Hewitt will bring them up.”
The Texas A&M College Republicans declined to comment for this article.

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