Fox News hosted the seventh GOP debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday, Jan. 28 four days before the Iowa Caucus, which begins on Monday, Feb. 1.
Donald Trump, the GOP front runner, decided not to participate in Thursday night’s debate due to an ongoing feud with Fox News Channel and moderator Megyn Kelly. Trump believes he was not treated fairly by Kelly during the first GOP debate back in Aug. of 2015, when Kelly asked him a question about comments he made about women in the past.
Fox News also released this statement that cemented Trump’s decision not to attend the debate: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president.”
Trump decided to host a rally during Fox’s debate to raise money for veterans just miles away from the where the debate was being held. The rally raised over $6 million for veterans, including $1 million of Trump’s own money.
The seven candidates that participated in the two-hour debate sparred over questions that ranged from radical Islam and government funding for Planned Parenthood to religious liberty, abortion and the role of faith in government.
With Trump absent from the debate, Texas Senator Ted Cruz had to deal with some unwanted attention.
Cruz was put into a situation where Fox News showed a video of candidates’ past statements, a move that forced Cruz to explain away an amendment that would have granted undocumented immigrants legal status. The controversy over illegal immigration has been one of the major issues concerning Republican voters this election, and granting amnesty to illegal immigrants is widely unpopular among many Republican voters.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who is polling in third place behind Trump and Cruz, received plenty of attention as well. Iowans who are known to have a large Evangelical constituency were pleased to hear Rubio say that voters “should hope that our next president is someone that is influenced by their faith” because, according to Rubio, “Judeo-Christian values” inspire generosity and love of neighbors.
“When I’m president, I can tell you this,” Rubio said. “My faith will not just influence the way I’ll govern as president. It will influence the way I live my life, because in the end, my goal is not simply to live on this Earth for 80 years, but to live in eternity with my Creator.”
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who failed to qualify for the sixth GOP main debate stage, was on the main stage Thursday night. Paul describes himself as a constitutional conservative and is also known for his libertarian views.
Paul said America’s continued liberty “requires a virtuous people,” citing George Washington and Christian social commentator Os Guinness.
“The bottom line,” Paul said, “is we must have virtue. We must have a religious bearing as a nation. The government is not always going to save us… Without the religious foundation that guides us all, I think we have a great risk of going horribly in the wrong direction.”
When it came to abortion, Paul said he believes “abortion is always wrong” and proposed state and federal measures to protect unborn babies, including federal legislation stating the constitutional right to life begins at conception.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked by moderator Bret Baier, whether he could “name even one thing that the federal government does now that it should not do at all.”
Christie replied, “How about one that I’ve done in New Jersey for the last six years: That’s get rid of Planned Parenthood funding from the United States of America.”
When Baier asked if there was anything bigger than that, Christie said, “When you see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of children being murdered in the womb, I can’t think of anything bigger than that.”
The candidates had the opportunity to explain how to balance religious liberty with security concerns related to radical Islam.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson said America should “stop allowing political correctness to dictate our policies” related to radical Islam “because it’s going to kill us if we don’t.”
In addition, Carson said, “We are a nation of immigrants. As such, everybody is welcome from any race, any country, any religion if they want to be Americans, if they want to accept our values and our laws. If not, they can stay where they are.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush spoke out against Trump’s past comments where he proposed temporarily banning Muslims from entering the United States, explaining that proposals and comments like that create a toxic environment in America.
The next GOP presidential debate will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6, hosted by ABC at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H.
Kevin Harper is a fourth-year student majoring in professional studies. Email the writer at KH818254@wcupa.edu