MSNBC Attacks ‘Weird’ GOP Debate For Talking Policy Instead Of Trump

News & Politics

MSNBC The 11th Hour guest host Ali Velshi, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin, and presidential historian Michael Beschloss were all greatly distressed on Thursday as they reacted to the “weird” GOP primary debate from the night before that focused on policy differences between the candidates instead of obsession over Donald Trump and “the anti-democratic tendencies that have taken over the party.”

Beginning with Rubin, Velshi proclaimed “it was weird that they were starting to have sort of what sounded like some policy discussion when, actually, the split screen here is that while you were all debating, becoming president of the United States, the guy who is trouncing you all is indicted and going to be arrested again.”

A group of Republicans who want to replace Trump talking about why voters should choose them instead of Trump is not weird in any way, but that didn’t stop Rubin from claiming “It is and I found the coverage of the debate terribly concerning and unserious. It doesn’t matter whether one candidate got a little bit more time or one guy, maybe will go up in the polls.”

With Velshi routinely interjecting to voice his agreement, Rubin continued:

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We have an entire political party that is devoted to a criminal defendant. Someone who tried to overthrow our democracy. That is the overriding issue of our time, of our day, it is beyond Donald Trump. It’s not only the people on the stage. It’s millions of Americans have bought into this. This is an issue of extreme seriousness and to treat this like just another debate where, ‘oh, Nikki Haley likes, you know, Ukraine and this guy doesn’t like Ukraine as much as this guy,’ all that, you know, kind of, pitter-patter is really beside the point. 

Nevertheless, Rubin added, “We have a party who has betrayed America. And I think it behooves us to remind people over, and over again what this is really about. The question is really democracy or someone for the Republican Party.”

Velshi, apparently unable to comprehend that every candidate on that stage was running to replace Donald Trump, then turned to Beschloss:

There were some interesting policy distinctions between some of the candidates but, Michael, the thing, the policy distinction that matters to America is where will I take the Republican Party? How will we fix the Republican Party? How do we reclaim the party of Lincoln? How do we tear ourselves from the criminality of Donald Trump and or the anti-democratic tendencies that have taken over the party? That would’ve stood out for the history books. 

After some more rambling from Velshi, Beschloss lamented, “Right, the debate stage was as if we were watching a debate in 2004 or 1984 and everything is otherwise fine.”

Repeating a line he has said countless times, Beschloss added, “Things are not fine. I mean, I’ll say something I never thought I would have to say. You’ve got one party in America that is in favor of democracy.”

As for proposals to rein in the federal bureaucracy, “You’ve got another party in America that is enthralled and in league behind a former president, and presidential candidate who has told you, he is going to institute a presidential dictatorship if he gets elected next year with big elements of fascism.”

Beschloss wrapped up by being the third member of the three-person segment to be unable to comprehend that Republican candidates are running to prevent Donald Trump from being elected president, declaring the party is “perfectly happy to contemplate a future in which Donald Trump might, if this is legally possible, serve from some federal prison as president of the United States, this is getting so weird and surreal that it almost offended me to watch the debate last night with everyone pretending as if this is 1984.”

MSNBC won’t have to worrying about Trump being president while in jail if GOP voters choose to replace him, which is what the Republican candidates were arguing for on Wednesday.

This segment was sponsored by Chase.

Here is a transcript for the August 24 show:

MSNBC The 11th Hour with Stephanie Ruhle

8/24/2023

11:49 PM ET

ALI VELSHI: But it was weird that they were starting to have sort of what sounded like some policy discussion when, actually, the split screen here is that while you were all debating, becoming president of the United States, the guy who is trouncing you all is indicted and going to be arrested again. 

JENNIFER RUBIN: It is and I found the coverage of the debate terribly concerning and unserious. It doesn’t matter whether one candidate got a little bit more time or one guy, maybe will go up in the polls. 

VELSHI: Yes. 

RUBIN: We have an entire political party that is devoted to a criminal defendant. Someone who tried to overthrow our democracy. That is the overriding issue of our time, of our day, it is beyond Donald Trump. It’s not only the people on the stage. It’s millions of Americans have bought into this. This is an issue of extreme seriousness and to treat this like just another debate where, “oh, Nikki Haley likes, you know, Ukraine and this guy doesn’t like Ukraine as much as this guy,” all that, you know, kind of, pitter-patter is really beside the point. 

VELSHI: Yes.

RUBIN: We have a party who has betrayed America. And I think it behooves us to remind people over, and over again what this is really about. The question is really democracy—

VELSHI: Yes.

RUBIN: Or someone for the Republican Party. 

VELSHI: That’s right. That’s the point. All the pitter-patter is beside the point. There were some interesting policy distinctions between some of the candidates but, Michael, the thing, the policy distinction that matters to America is where will I take the Republican Party? How will we fix the Republican Party? How do we reclaim the party of Lincoln? How do we tear ourselves from the criminality of Donald Trump and or the anti-democratic tendencies that have taken over the party? That would’ve stood out for the history books. 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS: Sure. 

VELSHI: Chris Christie give it a try. Liz Cheney has given a hell of a try for the last two years while maintaining her very conservative principle. Adam Kinzinger has given it a trial. Peter Meijer, in Michigan has done something about this. Mitt Romney, from time to time, is on the right side of these issues. But, that’s the thing that would’ve changed the history books. Not what happened on the debate stage. 

BESCHLOSS: Right, the debate stage was as if we were watching a debate in 2004 or 1984 and everything is otherwise fine. Things are not fine. I mean, I’ll say something I never thought I would have to say. You’ve got one party in America that is in favor of democracy. You’ve got another party in America that is enthralled and in league behind a former president, and presidential candidate who has told you, he is going to institute a presidential dictatorship if he gets elected next year with big elements of fascism. 

How clear does it have to be? And, you know, the Republican Party, at least in recent times, you know, stood for honorable things, it stood for law and order. It stood for national security. So, they are saying that even if there are indictments, you know, in federal and state venues for doing things like showing around classified documents and maybe even we’ll find out that he showed them to hostile foreign powers. 

We do not know that yet, fomented an instruction, same as Jefferson Davis did. Many people at the end of the Civil War said that Jefferson Davis, and the Confederate leaders should be hanged or punished. They weren’t. But that’s about the biggest sin an American president of the United States, or president of the United States can commit. 

So, it just really makes you question, what are these people all about. If they have been saying for years, we’re for national security, yet it’s okay if Trump tosses around classified documents, if he’s found guilty. And if they’ve been saying for years, that they are for law and order and they’re perfectly happy to contemplate a future in which Donald Trump might, if this is legally possible, serve from some federal prison as president of the United States, this is getting so weird and surreal that it almost offended me to watch the debate last night with everyone pretending as if this is 1984.  

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