Republican presidential hopefuls held to a tight script on Monday during the first comprehensive forum of the 2016 race. According to a CNN report, candidates kept their answers straightforward and sidestepped tough questions to avoid alienating any voters.
The performances in the forum hint at what we can expect to see on the primary’s first official debate this Thursday night, co-hosted by Fox and Facebook. Fourteen of the seventeen Republican candidates gathered at the Voters First Forum at the Institute of Politics at St. Anselem College, sponsored by New Hampshire Union Leader to answer questions one-by-one.
Candidates simultaneously played up their strengths and contributions while angling themselves as far opposite to president Obama and Hillary Clinton as possible.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who is not expected to make it to the main stage at primetime this Thursday, elicited the most laughter from the crowd after claiming he understood “Clinton speak.”
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker dodged a question about climate change, as he is reportedly seeking the financial backing of oil tycoons Charles and David Koch. Walker stated that he supports balancing the economy with environmental interests.
Not to be outdone by any of the other candidates, however, Donald Trump sat this one out. He is building suspense for further debates, riding the crest of the wave his controversial statements and unapologetic attitude has created.
The candidates will be chosen for the debate on Thursday based off of poll rankings, and Senator Graham reportedly was displeased with his current poll standing, expressing his disappointment at not getting to speak at the debate.