That question about black lives at the Republican debate deserved more than 61 seconds


A black veteran appeared at the Republican debate on Thursday night to talk about the strain between police and the communities they serve.

“There are great tools like body cameras that can protect both officers and citizens, but we all currently have better cameras in our pockets than in our precincts,” said the veteran, Mark Watson, a YouTube tech reviewer who lives near Ferguson, Missouri. “Why aren’t we using the technology available to better protect our communities?”

It was a thoughtful question. Too bad only one candidate got to answer it—Sen. Rand Paul, who spoke for exactly 61 seconds before Fox News took a commercial break.

“You know, I have supported legislation to allow body cameras,” said the senator before rattling off a number of dismal statistics about people in Ferguson being hit with civil fines.

“I think something has to change,” he went on. “I think it’s a big thing that our party needs to be part of, and I’ve been a leader in Congress on trying to bring about criminal justice reform.”

As Paul wrapped up, moderator Bret Baier went to commercial. No other candidates were asked about police and black lives.

“This debate is just getting started,” Baier said. “Coming up, the role of the federal government.”

The debate also gave relatively light treatment to two other problems that disproportionately hit people of color and working-class Americans.

A question about the water poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, and another about Islamophobia were addressed by one candidate each before moderators moved on.

Those questions were also given to the moderate candidates on stage. Gov. John Kasich was asked to address the water crisis, while former Gov. Jeb Bush was asked to respond to the question about Islamophobia.

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