The GOP undercard debate begins with whimpering about some bangs: First five questions all about Donald Trump

Trump's not actually in this debate, but it's sort of difficult to tell

Scott Eric Kaufman
September 17, 2015 2:40AM (UTC)

Former New York Governor George Pataki, current Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and current South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham strode onstage Wednesday evening to participate in the debate no one wants to watch featuring four candidates most people have already forgotten.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper have referred to the undercard debate as "the JV match," "the second-tier debate," and "this one," and as the candidates are being introduced, CNN is cutting away to an image of people standing around and waiting for Donald Trump to arrive. Cooper tried to drum up interest by noting that because there are only four of them, they'll have more time to speak -- and misspeak. One can only hope.


After brief introductions in which each of the candidates introduced themselves via reference to their signal issue -- "Hi, I'm Rick Santorum, and you may know me from such things as partial birth abortion and Iran," etc. -- but Jake Tapper made his displeasure at having to talk to "these other candidates" by immediately asking Bobby Jindal about a candidate he believes matters, Donald Trump.

Tapper followed that up by asking Santorum about...Donald Trump.

He followed that by asking Lindsey Graham about...Donald Trump. Though, to his credit, Graham hijacked his own question by talking about ISIS and ISIL, and started asking Tapper to ask the other candidates about ISIS and ISIL.


Hugh Hewitt joined the discussion by asking George Pataki about...Donald Trump. To his credit, Pataki called out the moderators for beginning this debate by asking all of them about a candidate who's going to be appearing in the next.

Tapper jumped in and asked Graham about outsiders like...Donald Trump. Graham replied that he "hopes Republicans, libertarians, vegetarians, whatever," will follow a serious candidate like...Lindsey Graham. (Though he'd have been forgiven for accidentally endorsing Trump, given that that's all anyone's talking about.)

Scott Eric Kaufman

Scott Eric Kaufman is an assistant editor at Salon. He taught at a university, but then thought better of it. Follow him at @scottekaufman or email him at

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Bobby Jindal Elections 2016 George Pataki Lindsey Graham Rick Santorum Video

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