Some Important Issues Republicans Skipped During The GOP Debate

Take note, future debate moderators.

Though Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate on CNN covered a wide range of policy topics -- from immigration and foreign policy, to climate change and drugs -- it didn't address several issues of particular resonance, including many that have dominated headlines in recent weeks.


In neither the "kids table" nor the first-tier candidates' debate did CNN moderators ask any questions about the refugee crisis. Lawmakers have been debating to what extent the U.S. should intervene. President Barack Obama has called for the U.S. to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees.

On the campaign trail, it has proved a divisive issue. Some candidates, like Democratic hopeful and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, have called for more action. Others have said that the U.S. should wait, like neurosurgeon Ben Carson (R), who claims that the refugees present a "security risk." Others have given vague answers when pressed, such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dodged the question and tried to make it about his opposition to Obama's foreign policy agenda more broadly.

Gun control

Just in the last few months, several high-profile incidents of gun violence, including the Charleston church shooting and the murders of two TV journalists in Virginia, have spurred renewed calls for more gun control legislation. Yet neither debate covered the topic of gun laws and access to guns.

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Racial justice

The moderators asked no questions about racial discrimination or police brutality against people of color. The Black Lives Matter movement has called on the presidential candidates to present platforms for combating racial injustice, but only a few candidates have heeded the call. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) did make a passing reference to the issue in a question about drug policy. Paul protested that mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses like drug possession have disproportionately targeted poor people and minorities.

Voting rights

None of the candidates were asked about voting rights and voter discrimination, even though GOP lawmakers across the country have tried to restrict the number of voters on the rolls, through various means. The issue was not raised in the first debate on Fox News, even though that debate was held on the day of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

Workplace and family policies

The debate made no mention of workplace and family policies, such as universal pre-kindergarten and paid parental leave. The GOP presidential field has generally avoided the topic, since it does not jibe with the philosophy of less government intervention. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina recently argued that adopting paid parental leave should be left to companies to decide, not the government.

However, 39 percent of U.S. private-sector workers do not have access to any paid sick days, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The problem is acute among lower-income workers, who often work in workplaces with less flexible policies.

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