When it comes to the Republican presidential debates, there is always controversy; from Marco Rubio repeating the same 30 second speech 4 times in under five minutes to Donald Trump steamrolling almost every demographic that isn’t white and male.
However, for the debate that took place in New Hampshire, controversy started before any of the candidates had spoken a word. This was due to Ben Carson and Donald Trump failing to appear when their names were read out by the announcer.
Ben Carson, who seems to sleep even when he’s awake, first stopped on his way onto the stage. Some analysts speculated this was him getting stage fright, perhaps a deer in the headlights moment, but I dismiss this. After watching the video a few times it is clear that, while he walks slowly towards the stage, he stops only when Ted Cruz’s name is called. It appears he didn’t hear his name being called over the cheers from the crowd.
The notion that he lost his bottle is contrived, considering he’s taken part in multiple debates and speaks confidently to the crowd. If you want to question his commitment to his candidacy this isn’t the way to do so. Perhaps instead you should point to the fact that Carson went to Florida after the Iowa Caucus to get ‘new clothes’.
However, I think a calculated decision was made when Trump didn’t appear on stage. Instead choosing to stand next to Carson in the wings, hidden from view.
Trump is the alpha male figure in the Republican debates and this was just another way of showing it. Not wanting to be outdone by Carson, he stops beside him, holding his head high, making small talk as the other candidates meekly brush past. Jeb Bush shies away as he passes, which won’t have done his (already weak) public image any favours.
Eventually, after the last curtain call, Carson did manage to take the stage. He was followed much later by Trump, who instead took two additional calls from the debate moderators before he decided to make an entrance, yet again highlighting his unparalleled ability to find ways to assert himself as the dominant figure, and his predisposition to act like a child and seek attention.
It’s clear that Trump wants to extend the amount of time that the spotlight is focused on him. It was odd to watch, almost tense; would he walk on stage or boycott the debate like he did with the Fox News debate? He had no reason to do so, but this is Trump; little of what he says or does comes from principle, but simply a desire to win votes and entertain.
Because ultimately, that’s what he is: an entertainer, and all entertainers need attention.