The Republican presidential hopefuls (11 of them, anyway) are at it again tonight on CNN, which is hosting the second of 11—11!!!!!—GOP primary debates currently scheduled for the 2016 race.
It's easy to feel as if we're sitting down for another episode of America's Got Donald Trump, easily the most talked-about reality show of the summer, but there will be a key difference.
Megyn Kelly won't be sitting in judgment, but Carly Fiorina is joining the 10 men who went at it last time on Fox News for the main event—and oh, what do you know, the head-to-head(-to-head-to-head...) will be coming in the wake of a nasty jab from Trump about her physical appearance and a perfectly classy response from Fiorina.
But before the kids take to the sandbox again, plastic shovels held high, we wanted to take a moment and focus on the positive (unlike the many negative Nellies in the field so far). Each and every person trying to run for president next year has something to offer, even if it's nowhere near enough to merit moving into the White House.
In fact, if you put all 15 Republicans and six Democrats in the race at the moment into a blender and hit puree, you get a pretty with-it presidential candidate. Take a look:
Hillary Clinton Her decades of experience as a Washington insider may have people who don't really know what they're talking about (the same people who denounced Obama for being an Ivy League elitist because wouldn't you rather have an average person in charge) decrying her insider status. Sorry, you don't want an outsider. We happen to like that she's been around K Street a few times. She's seen it all, and we wouldn't mind someone who doesn't faze easily and knows what she's doing.
Donald Trump We admit it. We like that he speaks before he thinks. He's a real, live Bulworth, and if he looked like Warren Beatty (two can play at this game, Trump!), that lead in the polls might be even bigger. And we also don't hate that he's not beholden to big business (aside from his own, of course), or in the pockets of the Koch brothers, or Sheldon Adelson, or any of the other billionaires who run things from behind the scenes.
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Bernie Sanders: A more equal society? We're all for it. Our moms told us to try and be more social. The Vermont senator, like our current commander in chief, was also one of the few to vote against going to war in Iraq, so... Principals.
AP Photo/LM Otero
Jeb Bush: He was all about education issues when he was governor of Florida and, if he can stick to his guns, he has a progressive, common-sense perspective on immigration policy—both key issues that just don't seem to have been fixed over the past few dozen years.
P.S. We wouldn't mind seeing more of son George P. Bush on the campaign trail...
Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images
Chris Christie: Bruce Springsteen plays the inaugural ball.
Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor's wife, Supriya, made Vanity Fair's list of best-dressed political wives in 2013. We've had a really good thing going with the White House and first lady fashion over the years, so it would be awesome if we could keep the streak alive...
Carly Fiorina: We're not nuts about the preemptive Hillary attack (doesn't she have enough weeds to whack through in order to get the nomination and therefore the chance to attack her Democratic opponent), but we applaud her response to Trump's archaic insult. And as the former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she's presumably all for equal pay for women. She at least never got a chance to issue a mind-boggling vote against it (yes, some women did that!), having never held elected public office.
E!; Craig Sjodin/Getty Images
Lindsey Graham: Isn't his accent soothing? The veteran senator from South Carolina also defied his own tradition of seeming not particularly tolerant when he wised up and said that Caitlyn Jenner is welcome in his Republican party. Maybe he should also hire Caitlyn, a veteran motivational speaker and now an icon on so many levels, to give opening remarks at his events. Might put some butts in the seats.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Ben Carson: He's got some questionable opinions on certain issues, but at the end of the day the retired neurosurgeon could enter intense negotiations with Iran and exclaim, "Come on! This isn't brain surgery!"
Lincoln Chafee: Unlike some, the former governor of Rhode Island actually is a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, having co-sponsored an amendment in 2000 when he was a U.S. senator that would expand the definition of a hate crime to include being targeted for sexual orientation; and in a New York Times op-ed in 2013 he wrote, "I personally feel that Rhode Island is a better state, and America is a better country, when we are as inclusive as possible." Plus, Conan O'Brien won't rest till he gets him to 1 percent in the polls.
Ted Cruz: Simpsons impressions during the State of the Union!
A photo posted by Marco Rubio For President (@marcorubiofla) on
Marco Rubio: The Florida senator is, like, 12 so—lots of energy! Actually, he's 44—so he's still got energy, but more so he's got great genes that make him look 24. (Newsflash: He and Bobby Jindal are the same age but come on, you thought Rubio—who's actually a couple weeks older than Jindal—was the youngest candidate by a mile, too.)
John Kasich: Take Trump's overwhelming presence out of the equation, and the Ohio governor may have actually won the first Republican debate. While he's conservative on the economic and foreign policy stuff, whether you're into that or not, everyone should be into him saying that every person deserves love and respect regardless of sexual orientation. Yes, it seems absurd that we're still dealing with laws that indicate otherwise in this day and age, but since the question is still being asked, at least that's the preferable answer.
Rand Paul: The Kentucky senator and ophthalmologist founded the Southern Kentucky Lions Eye Clinic in 1995 to help serve uninsured and otherwise financially strapped patients in need of eye exams and surgery; since he's prohibited from practicing medicine for profit while serving in the U.S. Senate, he has continued to perform pro bono surgeries over the years. Compassion and the willingness to do something directly for those less fortunate should be key characteristics of any public servant.
Jim Webb: The former Virginia senator, who served in the Reagan administration but ultimately ran for Congress as a Democrat, is a Vietnam vet and has been a tireless advocate for improving veterans' affairs. Can't argue with that.
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George Pataki: The Republican candidate was the governor of true-blue New York for 11 years, and he had a lot of fans on both sides of the aisle. We're all for someone who bridges the divide and overall appeals to rational people who may have issues with the economy, education and other things that truly need fixing, but at the same time would never think to mess with a woman's uterus.
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The Webby Awards
Lawrence Lessig: The political activist, attorney and Harvard Law professor vowed to run if he could crowdfund $1 million—and he did. And we're all for his raison d'être, campaign finance reform. Someone has to be for campaign-finance reform before he or she is elected!
Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Rick Santorum: Everyone likes a sweater vest. Prince George wears sweater vests!
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Scott Walker: Um, inside track on a lot of fine Wisconsin cheddar?
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Jim Gilmore: Since he didn't even poll high enough to make it into the second-tier Republican debate tonight (as in Jindal, Graham, Santorum and Pataki will trade jabs without him in the happy hour debate), the former governor of Virginia obviously has an invisibility cloak, under from which he'll be live-tweeting the proceedings. Now that's something to bring to the table, while simultaneously rendering the table invisible.