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While the Wednesday night’s CNBC debate was roundly panned by GOP candidates and commentators alike, ther was one person on the stage who praised the performance of the debate moderators.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich was asked immediately after the debate, “What did you think about the mainstream media’s questions tonight? What did you think about the moderators?”
The candidate responded:
I thought they did a good job. I’m very pleased with, I had time to speak and talk about the fantasy land and also be able to talk about my plans and my programs, the things that I know we can do together to get the budget balanced and create jobs and fix this country. So I’m very appreciative of how they did their job tonight. It wasn’t a circus like we’ve had in the past. It was well done, well controlled, a lot of good questions, and hopefully this will be what we’ll see in the future.
Though Kasich ranks 9th in the Real Clear Average of presidential polls at 2.5 percent, he managed to come in the top three on Wednesday night in terms of speaking time, with nearly 10 minutes.
FINAL TALK TIMES Fiorina 10:32 Rubio 10:10 Kasich 9:42 Trump 9:26 Christie 8:31 Huckabee 7:39 Cruz 7:34 Carson 7:02 Bush 6:39 Paul 6:15
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) October 29, 2015
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Much of that speaking time came early in the debate, when he dismissed the tax plans of Donald Trump and Ben Carson as “fantasy.”
CNBC moderator John Harwood then asked the candidate, “[Y]ou had some very strong words to say yesterday about what’s happening in your party and what you’re hearing from the two gentlemen we’ve just heard from. Would you repeat it? Harwood’s reference is to a rant the governor delivered in his home state on Tuesday, when he said:
Do you know how crazy this election is? Let me tell you something, I’ve about had it with these people.
And let me tell you why. We’ve got one candidate that says we ought to abolish Medicaid and Medicare. Have you ever heard of anything so crazy as that? Telling our people in this country who are seniors, or about to be seniors, that we’re going to abolish Medicaid and Medicare?
We’ve got one person saying we ought to have a 10% flat tax that will drive up the deficit in this country by trillions of dollars that my daughters will spend the rest of their lives having to pay off. You know what I say to them is why don’t we have no taxes, just get rid of them all, and then a chicken in every pot on top of it.
We’ve got one guy that says we ought to the take 10 million or 11 million people and pick them up – I don’t know if we’re going to go in their homes, their apartments? We’re going to pick them up and we’re going to take them to the border and scream at them to get out of our country? Well that’s just crazy. That is just crazy.
We’ve got people proposing health care reform that’s going to leave, I believe, millions of people without adequate health insurance. What have has happened to our party?
Kasich responded to Hardwood’s question saying he was the only one who was actually involved in balancing the federal budget, while serving in Congress in the 1990’s. “Folks, we’ve got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn’t know how to do the job,” he said.
Leon Wolf, writing for Red State, observes, “For all that people criticize Jeb Bush, Kasich is far and away the candidate in this field who is just utterly clueless about the Republican electorate as a whole. Worse, to the extent that Kasich does understand Republicans, he dislikes them.”
John Fund noted in National Review:
This year, it’s no secret who the media likes. A CNBC profile of Kasich in September wasn’t subtle. Its headline was “Is John Kasich the GOP Media Darling Who Could Finally Win?” CNBC noted that the three candidates — McCain, Huntsman, and Kasich — all had the same consultant for their White House bids. He’s John Weaver, a moderate Republican who has described his party as “a bunch of cranks.”
Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin told CBS last month that Kasich is “the media’s favorite candidate, and that is a dirty little secret.” As Kasich proved after the CNBC debate, the admiration is mutual.