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Peggy Noonan: 'Harsh Rhetoric' From GOP Candidates 'Makes Them Look Radical'

That's because they are radical, Peggy.
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Poor Nooners. You can tell it caused her great pain to have to admit on this Sunday's Face the Nation that these Republican presidential candidates are sounding more and more like a bunch of warmongering nutters with their hate-filled rhetoric at these GOP debates.

Don't they know they're supposed to stick to their racist dog whistles like her hero St. Ronnie, or talk about "spreading freedom" rather than carpet bombing, like George W. Bush?

Heaven forbid they're all actually saying out loud exactly what we've all known the Republican party has stood for for years on end now.

DICKERSON: -- I was talking to were talking about it this week is they put Trump and Cruz in the same basket. So they're looking for a mainstream candidate. And they were hoping that Rubio would come out of this debate not -- being that...

NOONAN: Yes.

DICKERSON: -- and he didn't. And the field is split. There are several non-Trump candidates.

NOONAN: Yes, and there's the sense that -- that Cruz is on the upalator in some way and Rubio is on the downalator.

I want to mention something that I think the Republicans are making a mistake on. The cumulative effect of what they say at their debates. I love it that they're fighting and hitting each other over the head and occasionally addressing serious issues in a serious way.

But the cumulative effect of the sort of harshness and even unlovingness of their rhetoric on immigration is going to, in the end, hurt them.

I also think the sort of severity and drama of their language on ISIS makes them look radical, do you know what I mean, as opposed to people...

GOLDBERG: Panicky?

NOONAN: -- take...

GOLDBERG: Like panicky?

NOONAN: Not panicky, Jeffrey, but extreme.

DICKERSON: Does it (INAUDIBLE)...

NOONAN: Do you know what I mean?

So that...

BALZ: There's a belligerence to the -- to the talk.

NOONAN: Yes, there is.

BALZ: Well, if it goes beyond...


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NOONAN: That's actually the word...

BALZ: -- muscularity to...

NOONAN: And it's...

BALZ: -- to belligerence.

NOONAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

NOONAN: And you don't have to be...

GOLDBERG: Well, carpet bombing.

NOONAN: -- to be belligerent...

GOLDBERG: I mean, you know, when you start talking about carpet bombing whole cities...

NOONAN: Yes. And...

GOLDBERG: -- you know, in response to a...

NOONAN: -- and turning desserts to glass...

GOLDBERG: -- a number.

NOONAN: -- and stuff like that, you can be very strong, very definitive, very seriousness, but not use this harsh, severe over the top...

AXELROD: Except the...

NOONAN: -- rhetoric. It's un -- misunderstanding their own base, I think.

AXELROD: The reality, though, is -- and Jeff's written about this -- there are no easy answers to the situation that we face there. And so the substitute for a coherent answer is bellicosity, let's be as ro...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.

AXELROD: -- let's be as strong -- because I think people are tired of the complexity of the situation and they're responding to strength. And -- and that's how -- that translates into the kind of language that you're talking about.

NOONAN: They do want strength. They don't want braggadocio and carelessness.

AXELROD: Yes, I don't agree with you.

GOLDBERG: Well, but they seem to want that.

I mean what is Donald Trump giving them but braggadocio and -- and carelessness. And he remains -- no matter what he system, he maintains his numbers. So...

NOONAN: But heavily...

(CROSSTALK)

NOONAN: -- on ISIS, he doesn't talk much.

BALZ: Christie, too, in the debate.

AXELROD: But I -- I'm sorry.

BALZ: Oh, was -- was -- I mean just -- almost reflexively...

(CROSSTALK)

BALZ: -- talking about shooting down Russian planes. You know, this is...

(CROSSTALK)

AXELROD: But we are two countries and let's remember that there's a primary electorate and then there's a general election. And I agree with you, in the general electorate, that kind of rhetoric can be crippling.

But in the primary and given the sort of red hot nature of the Republican base, you know, you get the effect that you see with Trump, where people are responding. He is the anti-Obama. I always believed that the incumbent sets the terms of the debate. And people never choose the replica of what they have, particularly in the other party.

They choose the remedy. And there's no one more anti -- so -- there's no more of an antithesis to Barack Obama than Donald Trump.

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