Donald Trump Was On Fire At Saturday’s Debate


Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, fear-mongering serial liar. But when he’s right, he’s right. And on Saturday night, he was on.

As many Republicans have noted in their attacks against Trump, he does not adhere to conservative-magazine-style orthodoxy on many issues — particularly economic policy. During Saturday’s GOP debate, Trump embraced his economic populism and reluctance to intervene in foreign conflicts with great results. Of course, he also promised to commit war crimes and otherwise disqualify himself.

Trump had skipped the prior GOP debate, which took place on the evening of the Iowa caucus but was the second lowest-rated debate of the cycle. With Trump back, the entertainment returned — and often, it was at the broad expense of the Republican Party.

In his signature abrasive, arrogant style, Trump put his finger to his lips to shush former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, drawing boos from the crowd. Yet he managed to turn this into one of the best lines of the night. First, he joked that all the boos were coming from Jeb donors. Then, he added that it’s actually true that the tickets for the debate had all gone to major donors.

“The RNC told us, ‘We have all donors in the audience,'” Trump said he was told when his campaign reached out for tickets. That’s the kind of statement that is both true and never spoken in polite company, and gets at the rot in the system that Trump has run against.

He soon got even more controversial, weighing in on North Korea, health care, and much more.

Jewel Samad/Getty Images
Donald Trump usedhis signature abrasive demeanor to savage his Republican rivals — and their conservative orthodoxy — in Saturday night’s debate.

China Should Deal With North Korea

From the very beginning, Trump has taken a less bellicose approach to foreign policy than his GOP rivals. He routinely touts his opposition to the Iraq War and the Obama administration’s intervention in Libya to oust Muammar Gaddafi.

And the real estate mogul has welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to get involved in the Syrian war on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad, claiming it’s better for the country to become Putin’s burden to bear, rather than a responsibility of the United States.

Trump extended this hands-off approach to North Korea on Saturday night, claiming that China could take care of it for the U.S. — and he’s not wrong.

“China says they don’t have that good of control over North Korea,” Trump said. “They have tremendous control.”

Asked whether he would approve a military strike on the isolated nation, Trump said China would be better off dealing with the country, either diplomatically or militarily.

“I would get on with China, let China solve that problem,” Trump said. “They can do it quickly and surgically. That’s what we should do with North Korea.”

China is one of the few major countries in the world that has significant support for North Korea, and I think we got to do everything we can to put pressure on China. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Although it may not be quite as simple as he says, Trump’s approach to North Korea is closer to that of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) than that of his Republican rivals.

Sanders said in the Democratic debate on Thursday night that North Korea is more dangerous for the U.S. than Iran or Russia — and insisted that China should be a key player in neutralizing that threat.

“Our goal there, in my view, is to work and lean strongly on China to put as much pressure,” Sanders said. “China is one of the few major countries in the world that has significant support for North Korea, and I think we got to do everything we can to put pressure on China.”

The Obama administration has also asked China to pressure North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

There is a reason for that. China is “North Korea’s most important ally, biggest trading partner, and main source of food, arms, and energy,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Trump’s Health Care Plan Would Not Let People Die On The Street

Trump has been an outlier among the Republican candidates for openly embracing universal health care, and Saturday night was no exception.

He has not only expressed positive feelings for the single-payer, government-run health insurance programs common in other developed nations, but also refused to disavow his views on the matter at the first Republican debate in August, conceding that such programs work well in Canada and Scotland.

Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) and other Republicans have attacked Trump for unapologetically embracing universal health care.

On Saturday, Trump offered a few more details about how he would replace Obamacare. Previously, he had merely described his plan as “something terrific.”

Trump said he would increase competition between insurance companies and encourage individual health savings accounts.

But what was most noteworthy was how he said it, repeatedly attacking private insurance companies.

“The insurance companies are getting rich on Obamacare,” Trump said. “The insurance companies are getting rich on health care and health services and everything having to do with health. We are going to end that.”

What I do say is there will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying, and as a Republican, I don’t want that to happen. Donald Trump

Trump even embraced his compassionate side, vaguely promising to provide some kind of a government-run solution for poor Americans who would still not be able to afford health care.

“What I do say is there will be a certain number of people that will be on the street dying, and as a Republican, I don’t want that to happen,” Trump said. “We’re going to take care of people that are dying on the street because there will be a group of people that are not going to be able to even think in terms of private or anything else and we’re going to take care of those people.”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Obama announces his decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline on Nov. 6, 2015. Donald Trump cited the rejected project as an example of the importance of eminent domain.

Eminent Domain Is Great

Trump’s critics have gone after him for his use of eminent domain — a legal maneuver that allows businesses or the government to seize private property for some other purpose. Pressed about such practices during the debate, Trump went beyond saying that eminent domain is legal, and that he simply followed the law as a businessperson.

Instead, he made a forthright defense of eminent domain. Without it, he argued, we couldn’t build roads, bridges, factories, hospitals, universities — or, he added with a delicate twist of the GOP knife, the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In the Republican primary, the Keystone pipeline is second to the Lord Christ himself in unquestioned acceptance. “The Keystone pipeline, without eminent domain, would not go 10 feet,” said Trump, more or less accurately.

Bush responded by saying that, well, the pipeline is a public project, so that’s different. After he regained the platform, Trump shushed him, adding that the pipeline was quite obviously a private project. It is being pursued by the company TransCanada.

Of course, Trump also telegraphed that he would commit war crimes during the debate. “I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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