Democracy Now! - October 29, 2015

With the campaign at roughly the halfway point between its opening summer debate and the Iowa caucus next year, Wednesday’s Republican debate was the first with business mogul Donald Trump no longer leading the polls. Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has surpassed Trump in recent days, though the two are still way ahead in the crowded Republican field. The surge of these two relative outsiders has thrown the Republican Party into turmoil. The more established political candidates are scrambling to gain ground as party leaders grapple with Trump and Carson’s outlandish views—and the potential that one of them might end up the nominee. We assess the debate and the state of the GOP field with four guests: John Nichols of The Nation, New Republic editor Jamil Smith, Imani Gandy of RH Reality Check and This Week in Blackness, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson has surpassed Donald Trump in most polls to become the new Republican front-runner. Carson’s proposals include a 10 percent flat tax, replacing Medicare and Medicaid with private health savings accounts, and banning abortion in all cases, including rape and incest. We assess Carson’s background and policy platform with New Republic editor Jamil Smith, Imani Gandy of RH Reality Check and This Week in Blackness, and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.

Initially viewed as a GOP front-runner and backed by over $130 million from wealthy donors, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is struggling in fourth place. Highlighting his fading chances, Bush spoke less than any other candidate at Wednesday’s debate and failed to seize opportunities to revive his campaign. "I think Donald Trump has very possibly finished off Jeb Bush by wrapping George W. Bush around him," says John Nichols, political writer for The Nation.

At Wednesday’s Republican debate in Boulder, Donald Trump denied making several statements only to be shown the source of the claims came from his website. "You have to understand Donald creates his own reality," says Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. "Whatever Donald says at the moment is to Donald the truth."

Republican Congressmember Paul Ryan is set to become House speaker after winning his party’s backing. Ryan replaces John Boehner, who announced his resignation last month after a lengthy dispute with far-right members of his own party. The tea party "Freedom Caucus" had threatened to hold a no-confidence vote amid disagreements with Boehner over negotiating with Democrats and how to use the Republicans’ House majority. Boehner was pressured to take a more confrontational approach with the White House and congressional Democrats over issues including government spending, immigration reform, Obamacare and abortion. Ryan is known for crafting sweeping budget proposals that target public spending, cut taxes for the wealthy and impose deep budget cuts. We speak to journalists David Cay Johnston and John Nichols.

At Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie seized on comments by FBIDirector James Comey that added scrutiny and criticism of police officers has fueled an increase in crime. Christie also criticized President Obama for his comments last week in support of Black Lives Matter. "We need to make it so that this country — Americans, police, the government — values black lives but also realizes that black people aren’t saying that only our lives matter, but that our lives matter, as well," says Imani Gandy, senior legal analyst at RH Reality Check and co-host of the podcast This Week in Blackness.

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