Likely Republican presidential contenders keep putting their feet in their mouths. And that leaves fellow candidates picking up the pieces.
Early last month, Chris Christie sparked a firestorm when he hedged on whether parents should vaccinate their kids. Soon after, nearly every other likely Republican 2016er was asked the same question. Then came Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's "punt" on whether he believes in evolution, shining a spotlight on other candidates' views of creationism. Later in February, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (who does not appear to be running for president) jibed that President Obama "doesn't love America," putting people like Walker (who does appear to be running) in a tough spot. And last week, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said he not only thinks being gay is a choice, but prisons illustrate it: "a lot of people who go into prison straight, and when they come out they're gay"—a comment that will now almost certainly come up in Republican primary debates.
The GOP has a problem with one person, whether a current potential candidate or just a high-profile once-ran, making controversial comments. In a media climate with scores of reporters covering every candidate and jostling for stories, Republican 2016ers have to answer for every out-there thing that someone in the wide field—or even someone who's already had his time in the campaign spotlight—says. That puts GOP contenders in the position of responding to questions for which they might not have an answer. It also stands in sharp contrast to the Democratic side—that is, presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton, whose silence on what members of her own party say, and more importantly, her own policy beliefs, rarely breaks.