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Americans are pretty interested in these Republican presidential debates. Last night’s at the Reagan Library appears to be the highest-rated event in CNN’s history. So whatever else the debates are for the GOP, they are an opportunity to present to millions of voters a modern vision about growth, opportunity and shared prosperity in a changing US economy. And talk about a news hook. The Census Bureau yesterday released new figures — whatever their flaws— showing continued middle-class income stagnation.
Yet the “middle” class was mentioned just four times vs. 10 times for the “Middle East.”
“Parent” — as in “single parents,” for instance — was mentioned just three times vs. 23 times for Planned Parenthood.
Creating economic “growth” was mentioned just five times vs. seven times for building an anti-immigrant “wall.”
No mentions of “health” in the context of replacing Obamacare. No talk about “college” affordability. And this was pretty much it for “opportunity.” Jeb Bush on immigration: “We’re at a crossroads right now. Are we going to take the Reagan approach, the hopeful optimistic approach, the approach that says that, you come to our country legally, you pursue your dreams with a vengeance, you create opportunities for all of us?”
Recall the exit poll after the 2012 presidential election that showed people really looking for empathy in a candidate backed President Obama over Mitt Romney by a whopping 81 – 18%. To the extent that perception about the GOP holds, did last night’s debate change or solidify it? Granted, the moderators did Republicans no favors in questions or topics. But smart politicians can turn most any question into a chance to speak about the favored issues. Maybe next time …Published in