Bout Time: Trump, Cruz Rumble in S.C.

Barb Wire

After hearing from the president on Tuesday, America took a turn listening to the people vying for his job. And the GOP candidates made one thing clear right off the bat: their take on the state of our union is radically different than Obama’s. Governor Chris Christie (R-N.J.) highlighted that in one of the funnier quips of the night, saying that he tuned in two nights earlier. “…I watched story time with Barack Obama, and it sounds like everything in the world was going amazing.”

But that’s far from the picture Republicans painted in Charleston at their sixth presidential debate. On the contrary, one of the biggest points of agreement was how urgent it was to turn the page from the last seven years of religious oppression, security insecurity, international cowardice, and a general lack of leadership. For the seven men on the main stage, the importance of the event could not be understated. With less than three weeks until the Iowa caucus, Republicans worked hard to distinguish themselves from the field, but most of the night — like latest polling, belonged to Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The two frontrunners (and at times, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla.), stole the show by finding an extra gear the others struggled to match. Cruz, who lived up to the hype of his college debate pedigree, had a worthy opponent in Trump — who, like him, deftly handles even the toughest of questions. The two sparred over several issues — with each man stealing points in the most talked about moment of the night. At one point, Senator Cruz suggested that Trump hasn’t abandoned his “New York values,” pointing to aninterview the mogul had done with Tim Russert in which “he explained his views on a whole host of issues that were very, very different from the views he’s describing now,”Cruz challenged.

Trump replied with genuine emotion that his city had gracefully handled one of the worst tragedies in American history. “When the World Trade Center came down,” he said, “I saw something that no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York… The people in New York fought and fought and fought, and we saw more death, even the smell of death — no one understood it. And we rebuilt downtown Manhattan, and everyone in the world watched and loved New York and New Yorkers.” Geography played an even bigger role in the hot topic of Senator Cruz’s citizenship, which many felt he answered by explaining that the poll numbers may have changed, but the Constitution had not.

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Speaking of those poll numbers, Trump and Cruz are in a virtual dead-heat in Iowa, the starting gun of the caucus and primary season. Elsewhere Trump is blowing away the competition, opening up an even wider lead on the pack after this week. But, as the Wall Street Journal points out, there’s an interesting twist. “[The latest WSJ/NBC survey] exposes one possible weakness in Mr. Trump’s otherwise strong Republican support: He loses in a head-to-head test match-up with Mr. Cruz, 43% to 51%. Last night on our daily “Washington Watch” radio show, I talked with CBN’s David Brody about what’s driving Trump’s popularity. Essentially, we agreed: the American people are looking for strong leadership, someone who will speak truth to power.

Both Cruz and Trump refused to be silenced by the political and media elite. And at a time when conservatives (and especially Christians) are sick and tired of their values being marginalized — even by some Republicans), these men speak up. They take on the politically correct class at a time when others turn and run — or worse, send someone else to do the talking for them. In a day and age when Christians can’t even have a Bible in their workspace, these men aren’t afraid to take on the liberal bullies. And when people like Donald Trump say the things on most people’s minds, conservatives feel like they have cover to do the same. Wouldn’t that be a refreshing change from the current administration — where the only talk of Christians is driving them underground?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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