Republicans debate middle class miseries and crony capitalism

Republican presidential candidates argue during the third GOP debate at the University of Colorado on Wednesday.— Photo: AP  

First-time Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, who spoke about his humble beginnings as the son of a bartender and a maid, and promised to protect the interests of the “average American”, appeared close on the heels of front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson in the race for Republican nomination for President on Wednesday. Mr. Rubio’s parents were immigrants from Cuba.

The third Republican debate, far from narrowing the race that has remained volatile and uncertain for months now, threw it wide open as trailing aspirants, including Mr. Rubio, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made a forceful and possibly successful attempt to catch up.

An Economist/YouGov poll ahead of the debate showed that 43 per cent of Republicans considered billionaire businessman Trump their first or second choice and 42 per cent considering neurosurgeon Carson their first or second choice. Mr. Rubio, at third position, had the support of only 23 per cent Republican voters who might consider him first or second. Mr. Carson, who had been trailing behind Mr. Trump, made a dramatic surge in the last week, and could be on his way to the top. New polls after the third debate have not emerged.

Frontrunners Mr. Trump and Mr. Carson share the status of being political outsiders as both have not served any elected office and have used it to their advantage as conservative voters, said to be tired of the old political class, are looking for a change. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, brother and son of Republican presidents, is trailing far behind the front-runners with only 16 per cent of the party voters showing any inclination towards him.

As unlikely as it may sound for a conservative debate, most candidates spoke of how big businesses, big banks and lobbyists were holding a disproportionate sway in decision-making in Washington, alleging that a nexus between them and the ‘establishment’ was causing miseries to the middle class. The third debate focused on economy, and more specifically tax issues, and rarely did it digress to foreign policy. Wage stagnation and business environment that is unfriendly to small businesses were among the concerns that most candidates promised to fix if they were elected president.

The debate also had several candidates speaking against the American version of ‘crony capitalism.’