• Politics
  • Debates

Did CNBC Ask ‘Gotcha’ Questions at the Debate? You Decide

6 minute read

It’s a tried-and-true tactic in politics: if you don’t like the question, attack the person asking it.

The Republican presidential candidates railed against their CNBC debate moderators on Wednesday night, accusing them of asking unfair questions about their records. The Republican National Committee released a statement condemning the debate while the stage lights were still on. By Friday, the RNC was moving to cut ties with its sibling, NBC, and trying to boot them as a host for a debate in early 2016.

“The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the debate.

“It’s not a very nicely asked question the way you say that,” businessman Donald Trump snarked at another point.

“You just listed a litany of discredited attacks from Democrats and my political opponents and I’m not going to waste 60 seconds detailing them all,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida responded when he was asked about his personal finances.

“Even in New Jersey what you’re doing is called rude,” said that state’s Governor, Chris Christie.

The attacks continued after the debate, as RNC chief Reince Priebus said in a letter Friday pulling the plug on NBC’s debate on Feb. 26 that the “questions were inaccurate or downright offensive.” The RNC says it needs assurances about debate terms and tone, although the Chairman was silent on what, exactly, he wants. Dissatisfied Republicans are meeting privately on Sunday to discuss future debates.

It was an example of a party deeply disliking the results of its third serious debate and, instead of confronting problems internally, hitting outward.

Cruz took the most direct aim at the debate moderators, comparing their questions to the apparently softball questions at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas earlier this month. “The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, ‘Which of you is more handsome and why?'” Cruz said.

That line and others during the debate got applause from the audience. But a closer look at the debate questions show that the tone of questions between the Republican and Democratic debates is similar. After all, the first question CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked Hillary Clinton was “Will you say or do anything to be president?”

Read More: Who Lost the Republican Debate? The Media

Below we’ve laid out some of the tough questions from both CNBC’s Republican debate this week, and the CNN Democratic debate on Oct. 13.

Here are the Republicans:

Mr. Trump, you’ve done very well in this campaign so far by promising to build a wall and make another country pay for it. Send 11 million people out of the country. Cut taxes $10 trillion without increasing the deficit. And make Americans better off because your greatness would replace the stupidity and incompetence of others. Let’s be honest: Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?

This one is for Senator Rubio. You’ve been a young man in a hurry ever since you won your first election in your 20s. You’ve had a big accomplishment in the Senate, an immigration bill providing a path to citizenship the conservatives in your party hate, and even you don’t support anymore. Now, you’re skipping more votes than any senator to run for president. Why not slow down, get a few more things done first or least finish what you start?

Governor Bush, daily fantasy sports has become a phenomenon in this country, will award billions of dollars in prize money this year. But to play you have to assess your odds, put money at risk, wait for an outcome that’s out of your control. Isn’t that the definition of gambling, and should the Federal Government treat it as such?

Senator Paul, among the leading conservative opponents to the creation of Medicare back in the 1960s was Ronald Reagan. He warned that it would lead to socialism. Considering the mounting cost of Medicare, was he right to oppose it?

Senator Cruz, working women in this country still earn just 77 percent of what men earn. And I know that you’ve said you’ve been very sympathetic to our cause. But you’ve also you said that the Democrats’ moves to try and change this are the political show votes. I just wonder what you would do as President to try and help in this cause?

And here are the Democrats:

Secretary Clinton, I want to start with you. Plenty of politicians evolve on issues, but even some Democrats believe you change your positions based on political expediency. You were against same-sex marriage. Now you’re for it. You defended President Obama’s immigration policies. Now you say they’re too harsh. You supported his trade deal dozen of times. You even called it the “gold standard”. Now, suddenly, last week, you’re against it. Will you say anything to get elected?

Governor O’Malley, the concern of voters about you is that you tout our record as Baltimore’s mayor. As we all know, we all saw it. That city exploded in riots and violence in April. The current top prosecutor in Baltimore, also a Democrat, blames your zero tolerance policies for sowing the seeds of unrest. Why should Americans trust you with the country when they see what’s going on in the city that you ran for more than seven years?

Secretary Clinton, Russia, they’re challenging the U.S. in Syria. According to U.S. intelligence, they’ve lied about who they’re bombing. You spearheaded the reset with Russia. Did you underestimate the Russians, and as president, what would your response to Vladimir Putin be right now in Syria?

Secretary Clinton, on the campaign trail, Governor Webb has said that he would never have used military force in Libya and that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was inevitable. Should you have seen that attack coming?

Webb, you served in Vietnam. You’re a Marine. Once a Marine, always a Marine. You served as a Marine in Vietnam. You’re a decorated war hero. You eventually became Secretary of the Navy. During the Vietnam War, the man standing next to you, Senator Sanders, applied for status as a conscientious objector. Given his history, can he serve as a credible commander-in-chief?

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Philip Elliott at philip.elliott@time.com