NASHVILLE, TN. — The crowd gathered at the Presidential Debate Watching Party at Proclaim 16 last Thursday witnessed raucous action on the big screen between the five remaining GOP presidential hopefuls. They also received a special bonus – insightful commentary from the live panel of Christian thought leaders who took the stage.
Best-selling author and radio talk show host, Eric Metaxas emceed the event at Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, on February 25 in Nashville, TN, and introduced the other debate commentators: Star Parker, syndicated columnist and founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, and Roy Beck, a former journalist and current executive director of NumbersUSA, an immigration-focused organization.
Prior to the broadcast, which was made available to Proclaim 16 attendees by CNN on tape-delay, debate moderator and host of CNN’s The Situation Room Wolf Blitzer offered a brief video greeting to Convention attendees.
After an eventful discussion between the candidates over several issues, particularly immigration, Beck said the exchanges helped to bring clarity to some of their positions.
He said Sen. Marco Rubio set out a new position by promising that enforcement would come before any other action on immigration. Beck also said the Florida senator clarified his position by promising to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), President Barack Obama’s executive action granting provisions to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as a child.
The immigration policy expert said businessman Donald Trump “really did contradict himself” when he had previously criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for advocating self-deportation and then making that same policy part of his immigration plan.
In addition to describing Trump’s position of self-deportation, Beck said Rubio, along with Dr. Ben Carson and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, were in favor of some type of delayed or modified amnesty for illegal immigrants. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the “only candidate who’s not for amnesty at all.”
Parker asserted America is “at a critical cross point.” She said, “This is very serious business, so we have to listen intently and look for a biblical worldview” from the presidential candidates.
The debate resumed and turned toward issues of extreme importance to those in attendance at Proclaim 16. Conservative radio host and debate moderator Hugh Hewitt asked candidates about their commitment to religious liberty. During one of his answers, Trump defended abortion provider Planned Parenthood. This “staggered” Metaxas.
Parker said she believes Trump’s position on Planned Parenthood is consistent with his position on many issues. “He believes what will make America great is to go after the ‘losers and the weak,’” she said.
Metaxas responded that Trump did say he opposed abortion. The candidate’s words rang hollow for Parker. “It will be very consistent with Donald Trump’s worldview to continue to support Planned Parenthood,” she said, “because Donald Trump believes some people are just ‘losers.’”
Parker said she’s not sure Trump “is what Christian conservatives should hope for in the next president. The last thing I would want to see is a president we are afraid of.”
For Beck, he faulted journalists at the debate and in the broader political discussions for “majoring on the very minor things.” Much of the debate focused on Trump not releasing his tax returns yet. Beck said he “would like to hear a lot more about what [the candidates] are going to do on the national debt, the big issues.”
Metaxas said the big news of the night was Rubio’s ability to “get under Donald Trump’s skin” and be very effective in his attacks on the Republican frontrunner.
Two of the Republican presidential candidates appeared at Proclaim 16 on Friday, February 26. Metaxas, Parker, and Beck interviewed with both Carson and Cruz for one hour each at the Presidential Candidates Forum.
By Aaron Earls
Published: March 1, 2016