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Election Watch: GOP Debate Mishap

What went wrong at Saturday’s debate? (Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore)

Following Steve Harvey’s infamous misstep at the Miss Universe pageant in December, the latest Republican debate also seemed to go out of its way to confuse viewers. On February 6, 2016, Republican candidates debated on ABC News for the last time before Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

The debate had a rough start: Neurosurgeon Ben Carson missed his cue to walk out onto the stage. Soon, Donald Trump did the same. The debate moderators realized that the two were missing only after announcing the other candidates and belatedly called Carson and Trump to the stage.

At this point in the evening, it seemed that all presidential contenders had finally taken their places but not quite. After Carson and Trump entered, a few of the candidates began to look quizzically at each other. Where was John Kasich, governor of Ohio? Was he finally giving up his shot at presidential office? No — he, too, had missed his cue. Picking up on the mishap, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, introduced Kasich to the debate’s national audience.

Since the debate, video clips of the candidates’ entrance have gone viral. Additionally, Variety estimates that over 13 million viewers watched the embarrassing mix-up on live television.

This broadcast fiasco resembles much more than a misread script, however. In a way, the confusion on Saturday’s stage mirrors the unpredictable lead shifts which have characterized the 2016 presidential race.

The most startling example, of course, is last night’s New Hampshire primary. Last week’s Iowa caucus went, somewhat surprisingly, to Cruz: Although Trump had a commanding lead for months, his decision not to debate in Iowa seemed to relegate him to second place.

Yet Trump pulled off a stunning victory on Tuesday, winning what the New York Times has called “the biggest victory in a New Hampshire Republican primary since at least 2000.” Meanwhile, once-favored outsider Ben Carson finished eighth. Kasich, all but forgotten on Saturday night, finished a distant second behind Trump.

In short, the Republican debate mishap aptly represents what has been an ever-changing and unpredictable presidential race. The next couple of weeks will be interesting as we observe who else stumbles onto the national stage.

— Bill Davison is a freshman studying international affairs. Elizabeth Ridgeway is Editor-in-Chief of THE ARCH CONSERVATIVE