Conservative, Libertarian Leaders React to CNN Democratic Debate

October 14th, 2015 12:12 AM

They watched so you don't have to. Here are the reaction of various conservative leaders to the Democratic debate on CNN, both as regards the candidates themselves, and how the network managed the debate.

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“During last night's Democratic debate, Anderson Cooper in large measure did exactly what a debate moderator is supposed to do. He asked tough, probing questions of all the candidates. Better yet, he did what most moderators won't do: when given an evasive or untrue answer, he pounced in a follow-up question, exposing the evasion or untruth. It was a breath of fresh air to see such professionalism. Give him an A- for a job well done.

“If I had one criticism about the debate’s moderators last night, it was that Cooper pushed the left's climate change agenda in his question on the subject, and Juan Carlos Lopez did the same with his, advancing the 'pathway to citizenship' agenda in his question. That was pretty much it." -- Brent Bozell, Media Research Center


"Anderson Cooper asked the Democratic candidates some tough questions, about Clinton’s political expediency and Sanders’s socialism and honeymoon in the Soviet Union. And he was well prepared with facts and followup questions. However, a central theme of most of the candidates was how much more they would have government would give to every group of citizens, and Cooper and his colleagues failed to ask the obvious questions about how much all those promises would cost, who would pay the bills, and what that would do the federal budget and the economy. As I tweeted during the debate, all the candidates promised to make the federal government more powerful, and the latest Gallup Poll shows that only 7 percent of Americans think the government has too little power; 60 percent think it has too much.
"Hillary Clinton has always been more hawkish than Democratic voters realize. You saw that in this debate in her call for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone in Syria and her harshness toward Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing. So from a libertarian point of view, she’s a big spender, a big regulator, a hawk, an opponent of marijuana legalization — basically wrong on everything. But in a debate, she knows how to stay on message. Time will tell whether the voters like the message." -- David Boaz, Cato Institute


"Hillary’s personal war on women not addressed. They want to zap the 1% but have all refused to voluntarily pay more in taxes. All complain about economy - which their party has been in charge of for seven years. Laughable hypocrisy all around. What’s new?  Nothing." -- Jeffrey Lord of American Spectator and NewsBusters


"CNN's pre-debate coverage was pretty clearly easier on the Democrats than their pre-debate coverage of the Republican debate. Before the Republican debate, conservative pundits had to share the stage with liberal pundits in the interest of "equal time"; however, prior to the Democrat debate, the political analysts were uniformly liberal. As a moderator, Anderson Cooper was much tougher and fairer than I expected. Much like Jake Tapper did to the Republicans, he deliberately set the Democrats against each other where they disagreed and even occasionally asked tough questions that put all the Democrats on stage at odds with the general electorate, and correctly pointed out that Clinton's answer about her email didn't fly anywhere but within the debate hall. As a mainstream media moderator, Anderson Cooper did about as well as could be reasonably expected." -- Leon Wolf of RedState


"The Democrat Party's contempt for capitalism and free markets was on full display tonight. Their presidential candidates love to wield the heavy hand of big government, and are fully committed to punishing job creators with higher taxes and onerous regulations. Only one of the Democrat candidates may admit to being a socialist, but tonight they were all competing to destroy the U.S. economy by making socialist policies the platform for their party." -- Doug Sachtleben, Club for Growth


"Each Democrat holds views most Americans would rightly identify as extreme. The debate format allowed for brief answers on hot button issues that appeal to the base, but goals are not policy.  And voters didn't hear much substance tonight. Either CNN dropped the ball or liberal primary voters just don't care about policy details." -- Dan Holler, Communications Director, Heritage Action for America


"This was a completely different debate than a few weeks ago. CNN seemed more interested in trying to pit Republican presidential candidates against each other, rather than letting them have a substantive discussion about policy. It was disappointing and it deprived Americans of a serious conversation about the economy, which still hasn’t turned the corner since the recession. For whatever reason, Republicans were denied the debate Democrats had tonight.

"Democrats did what Democrats do; they talked about increasing spending at a time when the national debt is over $18 trillion and raising taxes when the economy is still struggling to pick up steam. The rhetoric tonight, particularly as it related to the economy, sounded eerily similar to the empty promises that Americans have heard from the Obama administration since 2009, perhaps even worse. We need candidates who want to get government out of the way by offering pro-growth policies to revitalize our economy." -- Adam Brandon, CEO of Freedomworks


“Those who predicted no questions on Planned Parenthood or women’s health issues, won the debate bingo tonight. Completely unchallenged on the current national abortion scandal, Hillary Clinton used Planned Parenthood as an applause line in a discussion of Big Government, completing missing the irony that the abortion giant receives 1.25 million in taxpayer subsidies every day. Similarly, Bernie Sanders addressed climate change as a great moral issue of our day, while ignoring the horror Americans feel over the revelations of widespread corruption at the nation’s largest abortion provider." -- Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life


"The most striking thing about the Democratic debate was that not one media question contradicted liberal orthodoxy on the Democratic candidate's far-Left agenda. No one questioned why the federal government should gift free college to someone, no one asked "is global warming real?" and no one asked "what's fair about income redistribution?" It was just assumed by the media panel that Democrats are right about all of those radical encroachments on constitutional liberty and the only issue in the Democratic Primary should be who will be most efficient in redistributing the booty the welfare state extorts from producers." -- Richard Viguerie,


"Cooper let Hillary off the hook on Bengazi, didn't probe her very far on the emails, and egregiously framed the 'Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?' question in a way that allowed her to dodge it. I say 'egregiously,' because that specific question existed only because of the 'controversy' of Hillary saying that 'all lives matter.' The question should have gone to her first, and asked directly.

"CNN's panel during the GOP debate focused on getting all the candidates to fight with each other, and challenged all their philosophical assumptions and policy positions. Yet Cooper was not interested at all in drawing clear distinctions among the candidates, and he didn't ask 'divisive' questions that challenged the positions the candidates take on policy. For instance, Cooper worked from the assumption that humans are causing a climate crisis – despite the fact that atmospheric temperature measurements have shown no global warming for almost 19 years. And Cooper didn’t ask any of the candidates how they would pay for their plans to massively expand government programs." -- Jim Lakely, Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute