Democrats seized on Thursday night’s raucous first Republican debate as a helpful turning point in the wider presidential race, claiming a series of attacks on women’s rights and immigration would alienate many moderate voters.
As the conservative establishment reeled from a night of high drama that boosted the profile of several candidates – and attracted record ratings – but also focused attention particularly on Donald Trump, their liberal opponents were in jubilant mood.
“I felt pretty good that we increased the chances that the Democratic nominee whoever it is, will ultimately be elected president of the United States,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), told MSNBC on Friday.
“When you expose America to the extremism that is the Republican party today like they did last night, it’s very evident that there will be a dramatic and clear contrast going into the general election and Democrats are going to show off that we care about fighting for the middle class and they care about taking care of the wealthiest 1%.”
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner who was the target of several jibes during the debate, was quick to exploit the attention on more extreme Republican candidates as a fundraising opportunity.
“Watch the #GOPdebate?,” her campaign wrote to supporters. “Bet you feel like donating to a Democrat right about now.”
“It’s over,” said Clinton’s closest rival, Bernie Sanders, in a tweet that focused on issues that were not covered by the debate. “Not one word about economic inequality, climate change, Citizens United or student debt. That’s why the Republicans are so out of touch.”
Much of the Democratic response focused on the exchanges between Trump and Megyn Kelly. The Fox moderator questioned comments in which he had referred to women variously as “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals”, only to be brushed off by the billionaire property developer as “politically correct”.
Even Senator Marco Rubio, a more moderate candidate seen as one of the big winners of the night, drew attention to his party’s renewed debates on Planned Parenthood and abortion, appearing to go further than before in arguing against an exception for women who are victims of rape and incest.
The Florida senator doubled down on his comments during an interview with CNN on Friday, insisting that he would always “err on the side of life” even if a woman conceived through rape or incest.
“I personally and honestly and deeply believe that all human life is worthy of protection irrespective of the circumstances in which that human life was created,” Rubio said. “I personally believe that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy – that’s how I personally feel, very strongly about.”
Read more at: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/07/democrats-jubilant-chaotic-republican-debate