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Republicans Vilify Clinton, Obama, Supreme Court

Republicans Vilify Clinton, Obama, Supreme Court


The mainstage Republican debate tonight featured fewer fireworks than last month's event but touched on familiar themes.


The second Republican presidential mainstage debate was marked by fewer fireworks than the first -- candidates for the most part avoided shouting matches -- but Donald Trump still managed to offend some people, and the candidates generally returned to familiar Republican tropes.

Some of those: President Obama is weak on foreign policy and the Iran nuclear treaty is a terrible idea, Hillary Clinton is generally evil, economic and environmental regulations are job-killers, and, oh, the Supreme Court is out of control.

The high court came in for criticism largely because of the marriage equality decision -- that was about the only time LGBT issues came up -- and the decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

In tonight's debate at the Reagan Library among the 11 highest-polling candidates (after one among four lower-ranking contenders), former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee got the most digs in against the marriage decision, saying the Supreme Court created a right "out of thin air." He also said not making an accommodation for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis's faith-based objection to licensing same-sex marriages amounted to "criminalization" of Christianity.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who had said Davis was sworn to uphold the law, backtracked a bit tonight, saying there should be an accommodation for Davis, as for florists or bakers who don't want to provide goods or services for same-sex weddings. He thought that if she couldn't in good conscience issue the licenses, someone else in her office should -- and actually, that's what has been taking place since Davis's release from jail. Before she was jailed for contempt of court, though, she would not let deputy clerks issue licenses either.

The Human Rights Campaign called out Huckabee and Bush. "Mike Huckabee and Jeb Bush tonight tripped all over themselves trying to be the first to defend government officials who want to ignore the rule of law in order to discriminate against LGBT people," said HRC senior vice president of policy and political affairs JoDee Winterhof, in a press release. "Our next president should defend the constitutional rights of all Americans, including LGBT people, and fight for full federal equality. Instead, tonight, Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee continued down the wrong path by saying they want to encourage government officials who deny LGBT Americans their constitutional right to equal treatment under the law." Watch a clip of the two candidates below.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas got a few comments in on marriage equality as well, saying that as president he would appoint Supreme Court justices who uphold the Constitution in full -- implying that those who ruled for marriage equality did not -- and would not be "philosopher kings" with a liberal agenda. He also said if a more aconservative nominee than John Roberts, now chief justice, had been appointed to the court, Obamacare would have been struck down and all previous state marriage laws would still stand. (Actually, while Roberts did vote to uphold Obamacare, he voted against marriage equality.)

Front-runner Donald Trump didn't have a major woman-bashing moment, as he did in the first debate. But when Carly Fiorina was asked to respond to a comment Trump made to Rolling Stone about her -- "Look at that face! Who would vote for that?" -- she said, "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said."

Trump, who had claimed the comment wasn't about Fiorina's appearance but her persona, then said of Fiorina, "I think she has a beautiful face."

Trump's remark about looks tonight was directed at U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. "I've never attacked him on his looks, and there's plenty of subject matter there," Trump said.

Trump and Fiorina had a back-and-forth about each other's business acumen or lack thereof, which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called "childish," and he reminded them that ordinary Americans, struggling with daily expenses, didn't care about the two business executives' careers.

Most of the candidates denounced the treaty designed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons in the near future, generally seeing it as yielding too much to Iran. Cruz promised, "On my first day in office, I will rip to shreds this Iranian nuclear deal," and added, "If you vote for Hillary Clinton, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khameini to possess a nuclear weapon." Huckabee called the treaty a threat to Western civilization.

But Paul said the idea of ripping it up is absurd, and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio pointed out that there are safeguards in place, with the option to impose sanctions on Iran if it violates the treaty.

Cruz wasn't the only one vilifying Clinton. Christie, touting his own "pro-life" credentials, said she "believes in the systematic destruction of children in the womb." And Fiorina accused Clinton of lying about the killings of U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, and about her emails during her tenure as secretary of State.

Who will get to face Clinton -- or Bernie Sanders or another Democrat -- in the general election remains very much an open question. The next Republican debate will be October 29 in Boulder, Colo. The Democratic hopefuls will have their first debate October 13 in Las Vegas.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.