GOP Presidential Debate: Who Do You Like So Far?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of you probably plan to vote Republican in the 2016 presidential election. I say that because if you place a high priority on your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms you certainly can’t vote Democrat, as all of the progressive and liberal candidates — Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Mallley — have made solemn promises to pick up wherever Barack leaves off in the ongoing attempt to gut our Second Amendment rights.

I suppose you could vote Libertarian or Independent but doing that in our (extremely flawed) two-party system is essentially throwing away your vote. I know I sound like an unprincipled defeatist in saying that but it is what it is and there’s also the very real chance that if you decide to vote for a third party candidate it will make it easier for a Hillary or an O’Malley administration to take the White House.

So, that leaves us with the 11 candidates who took the stage Wednesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. To be totally and completely honest, I have no idea who I’m going to vote for in 2016. I don’t even have any early favorites. What I do have is general impressions, some pros and cons for each candidate that I’ll share with you. Aside from the occasional mentions of the Second Amendment, I’m not going to get policy specific because (a) not all the candidates have explicated their positions on every issue and (b) it would make for a really tedious read. At this point, I’m more interested in the intangibles: who looks the part, who really pops out, who has the “it” factor going for them.

With that said, I’m really interested in what you have to say about the candidates too, which direction are you leaning in and why? I’m going into this election cycle with a wide open mind, so I’m all ears.

Carly Fiorina

Pros — I like Carly’s simple message about leadership, “Challenge the status quo, solve problems, get results.” She’s a tough cookie and has proven to be a world-class debater (She was the hands-down winner in both debates so far). To state the obvious, she’s a woman. What’s good about that is that it would presumably negate the advantage Hillary would have with female voters were Hillary to go up against one of the other male GOP candidates.

Cons — I’m not sure about her track record as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, was she as successful as she claims? Dubious on the 2A, she’s a gun owner by proxy (they belong to her husband).

Chris Christie

Pros — Christie would be good in a general election as he appeals to wide swaths of Independents and Democrats. I trust his prosecutorial acumen (It’d be great to watch him grill Hillary on server-gate, Benghazi). I like his confrontational style and candor.

Cons — New Jersey’s is an anti-gun cesspool. Sure, Christie’s vetoed some gun control bills and pardoned some law-abiding gun owners ensnared in the state’s draconian gun laws, but as governor of the Garden State he hasn’t made 2A rights a high priority. He has a “C” rating from the NRA. His portly appearance is red meat for pundits and the left-wing media.

Marco Rubio

Pros — Rubio is a young, articulate and driven politician. When I hear him speak, I get the impression that he’s been groomed his whole life for this moment. I love his humble beginnings, his blue-collar roots and the fact that he is the personification of the American dream.  He know the issues through and through.

Cons — Not a real gun guy. At times, it seems he is on the verge of crying when he speaks.

Jeb Bush

Pros — Jeb is a likable guy. I mean, who doesn’t like Jeb (Aside from Barbara, he is probably my favorite Bush)? Jeb is political royalty (which is a pro and a con) and definitely a savvy politician.

Cons — Not a great debater, at all. I feel as though he really struggles on stage, under the lights. Jeb is a true establishment Republican, which is worrisome. Not sure a third Bush is what the country needs. He has a lot to overcome in that respect’ he has to convince the American people that he is a different man than 43 (his brother) and 41 (his dad). That’s a tall hill to climb. Not a gun guy.

Donald Trump

Pros — Fun to watch in the debates. Business savvy. Deal maker. Not afraid to say what others won’t. Not a career politician. Self-funded, not owned by corporate elites or private interests groups. Dynamic leader. No one can talk smack like Tump (His rant on Rosie O’Donnell is one of the best burns I’ve ever seen).

Cons — More than a bit vague on some of the issue. Many believe his campaign is a joke or just a way to propagate the “Trump” brand. Never admits he is wrong and refuses to apologize, even when he sticks his foot in his mouth. Stubborn, arrogant, and a bit childish at times. Doesn’t seem to care much about the Second Amendment.

John Kasich

Pros — Kasich has a lot of political experience working in Washington and leading the Buckeye State. Appears to speak from the heart. Takes a pragmatic approach to politics. Instead of pandering to the crowd, he seems realistic about what’s possible in terms of implementing a Republican agenda in Washington. Kasich is a gun owner.

Cons — At the debate, Kasich seemed a bit flustered at times and as a result he wasn’t as articulate as some of the others. A bit long in the tooth. Not that age really matters that much, but one can argue that he doesn’t have the energy that some of the other candidates have.

Rand Paul

Pros — Paul is not your average Republican. He is not a GOP insider or establishment Republican. He has Libertarian influences. Led the filibuster in the Senate to stop the federal gun-control push following Sandy Hook in the Spring of 2013. Paul is well-spoken and substantive on the issues.

Cons — Paul has the disposition of a petulant child at times. He just comes across as whiny or cranky. It’s too bad too, because he is really principled, really smart and really well-versed in the Constitution. The rug (that can’t be his real hair).

Scott Walker

Pros — Walker is a pretty good public speaker. He has a solid understanding of the issues. And he is a hunter and a gun owner.

Cons — He just doesn’t pop for me. I think he’s lacking the “it” quality, that palpable presidential magnetism that attracts voters to him. In short, he is 50 shades of vanilla.

Ben Carson

Pros — Carson doesn’t look, talk or sound like a politician, which makes him a really attractive candidate. His background as a pediatric brain surgeon is impressive. He is a thoughtful, conservative intellectual. Very friendly and likable.

Cons — I don’t see a killer-instinct in Carson. Not that one’s required in a president, but I’m afraid he comes across as being a bit too relaxed for the oval office.  I can’t imagine him being that forceful of a negotiator either.  I’d like to see him be a bit more fiery.

Mike Huckabee

Pros — Why Huckabee isn’t more popular I don’t know. He is one of the best speakers on the stage, one of the strongest conservatives on the stage, and one of the most likable guys on the stage, in an avuncular sorta way. He loves guns and the Second Amendment.

Cons — Huckabee wears his Christian conservatism on his sleeve. As someone who is a social Libertarian, I find it a bit off-putting. I mean, let the gay marriage thing go already. I believe his stance on gay marriage, and some other issues, would hurt him in a general election.

Ted Cruz

Pros — A constitutional lawyer, he definitely understands the history and import of the Second Amendment. Cruz is a conservative’s conservative. He will definitely stand on his ground and doesn’t back away from a protracted fight (he’s not afraid to shutdown the government).

Cons — Sometimes Cruz comes across as a snake-oil salesman. Like, his responses in these debates are too rehearsed and tinged with a mawkish quality that makes him seem like a daytime TV actor. His wife is a Wall Street banker (the optics of that are bad).

Who Owns a Gun

(Photo: Telegraph)

(Photo: Telegraph)


I left some candidates off my list — Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal — because I think three to six months from now they will have bowed out of the election due to the minimal traction they’ll have gained in the polling. I guess we’ll see though. If I didn’t include your candidate, please feel free to list them in the comment section below and explain why you like them.

I think we all understand the importance of this next election. Should the wrong candidate be elected in 2016, the progress that’s been made over the past decade to expand concealed carry rights, eliminate gun-free zones, affirm that the Second Amendment is an “individual right,” keep widely popular and commonly owned black rifles free from a federal ban could be all for naught. Hillary, Sanders, O’Malley, would all be a disaster. They would nominate anti-gun Supreme Court justices, push gun control via executive fiat, use the bully pulpit to advocate for tougher gun laws, make the ATF more meddlesome for law-abiding gun owners just to name a few objectives.  As I said, they’d be a disaster!

Quite simply put, we need a pro-gun president back in the White House.  The question is, who do we go with?  Who is our guy or gal?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

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  • THOMAS E SPRINGER(C) September 22, 2015, 1:55 pm


  • Tommy Laing September 22, 2015, 11:52 am

    Give me Ted Cruz. He isn’t the best at getting his message out but he has pushed and worked for everything that Trump has pushed way before Trump was on the scene.

    Trump makes good TV but give me someone solid that has put his best out there and has shown that he is what he purports to be.

  • John September 22, 2015, 9:56 am

    Better start looking at Marco Rubio.
    The most electable vs Hillary or Biden.
    Has an A NRA rating, not ideal but ok for us.
    I believe he will eventually emerge as the candidate.

  • Janus September 22, 2015, 1:53 am

    You guys have to be kidding me-The Republicans more or less represent the fraudulent War on Terror that was designed to destroy your rights and impose a Police State (currently happening) directly under the Bush Crime family, who is also running for President again! and people here who write for this publication are still handing these bought and paid for traitors to the patriotic Americans as viable candidates? When is the gun crowd going to come to their senses and wake up? It won’t be long before even this bone (gun rights) will be taken away from you under this party

  • David Baker September 21, 2015, 11:53 pm

    You make a huge mistake by assuming that your readers are uniformly GOP voters. I am a lifelong Democrat, a lawyer schooled in Constitutional law, and a gun enthusiast. 2A is not, however, the only issue that matters to me. The GOP has been wrong on foreign policy (2 unfunded wars), wrong on the economy (screwing the middle class in favor of the country club set), wrong on civil right, wrong on religion, wrong on taxes, wrong on labor, and so many other issues that I simply cannot support them. The Democrats have about as much serious intent to grab your guns as the GOP does to ban abortion, i.e., none. It’s an issue to fire up the base.
    Your blowhard name-calling readers would do well to remember that they are not the only ones who are armed.

    • S.H. Blannelberry September 22, 2015, 6:56 am

      Yeah, you make some good points (I tend to lean Libertarian myself, particularly on social issues). But I’ll tell you this, you underestimate the Dems when it comes to gun-grabbing. Consider what happened in NY, CT, and CA following Sandy Hook. I believe that speaks volumes for what happens to the 2A under Democratic leadership.

      The only reason federal gun laws didn’t change under Obama is because of a GOP-led filibuster. Universal background checks had 54 votes in the Senate, enough to pass were there no filibuster. I know from covering this issue that Everytown for Gun Safety is hard at work finding those six votes in the Senate. Bloomberg’s money is real. I think it’s only a matter of time before they get those votes. And with a rabidly anti-gun Dem (Hillary) in the White House, the process only becomes that much easier.

    • DW September 25, 2015, 1:17 am

      +1 on your comment. First let me say I’m not as articulate as you and please forgive my spelling mistakes but I read all these comments until I read yours. I too treasure my 2nd amendment rights and any one who wishes to take them away will get them bullets first. There are many other issues to me that are just as important and the candidate that best embodies my leanings will get my vote. Mr. Blannelberry below states that the gun grabbers came close in the last congress but they failed and what many need to realize is that the congress and the senate is always going to have at least a 50/50 split with at least 60 percent needed to accomplish anything ( that’s the sad state we live in now ). 51 percent doesn’t do it any more. What Dems , gun grabbers and others need to understand is, Sandy Hook, South Carolina, Virginia will not stop because crazy is crazy.The 2nd amendment I will support until I’m dead but their are 27 other amendments to the constitution and I want my candidate to fight for every last one without prejudice for I will give my life to support your right to any of them. Love this forum if we can just keep it civil.
      Ps. If NY is so tough on guns and obtaining a CCW . How did Trump get one ? He may not be but there are a lot of hypocrites in NY.

  • Cleophus September 21, 2015, 11:17 pm

    There’s no doubt who is the best man for the job. Rand Paul. Senator Paul is the ONLY candidate running who stands and fights not only for the 2nd Amendment, but for EVERY Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The rest of the candidates, to a man, are SOS = Same Old Shit, different day. The all parrot the same old boiler plate talking points. They all have the same “feed the military industrial complex” foreign policy that has made us the pariah of the world, and they all think that Israel is the 51st State. Of all the candidates, only Rand Paul has stood for strict construction of the Constitution, and only Rand Paul has stood in defense of our Constitutional rights while the rest of the candidates are more than willing to sacrifice your 1st, 4th and 5th Amendment rights on the alter of “national security.” It’s time that 2nd Amendment gun owners realize that there is more than one Amendment in the Bill of Rights. If you want Constitutional government, vote for Rand Paul. If you want the same old shit, different day; vote for any of the other cookie cutter Republicans, you’ll get it.

  • Clipper September 21, 2015, 8:39 pm

    Rand Paul. Definitely the champion of The Constitution amongst all who are running. Remember also, whoever the Republican nominee is, that person must still be elected in the general election. He has great appeal to young voters and those Democrats who are willing to engage their consciences and vote for someone other than Hilary. Also, he is the only candidate who has actively worked to bring voters not traditionally identified with Republicans into the “Big Tent”. A few years ago, the NRA had an election slogan “Vote Liberty First”. With Rand Paul, that’s what you’d be doing!

  • John September 21, 2015, 7:49 pm

    When all this flushes out I think he will be the Repub pick.
    Probably the best “compromise” candidate. And NRA – A Rating. Not A+ but like I said a compromise.
    He can siphon off at least some of the Latino vote to maybe win the General Election.
    If you listen and watch – he looks, talks and acts “Presidential”.
    He comes from a low, “working” background ie can relate to us.
    I think he could put Hillary in her place as being out of touch.
    Do you really want Trump to have our Nuke codes ?
    And hard to believe he actually cares about “us” vs how much more money he can make on this.

  • smoke September 21, 2015, 4:17 pm


  • Winston September 21, 2015, 1:23 pm

    These posers are all of the same the same millionaire, pro- war, big gov’t trogladyte mould as Bush II or Obama. To entertain that they are different from each other is denial of reality.

  • Tommy Thompson September 21, 2015, 11:29 am

    I’m a registered Independent, so I won’t have any say as to who represents the Republican party in 2016. I will say that I have doubts as to Trumps intentions, based on his history of supporting DemocRats. I will not vote for Jeb Bush because of his support for Common Core. Our country has enough trouble in public education; and Common Core is the “last nail in the coffin” of America’s chances of raising any future great thinkers… Carly Fiorina, to me, seems to be the most competitive in a race against the Clinton Machine, or the other socialist (self professed) that the DemocRats are considering. We’ll see how it goes. Both the DemocRats and Republicans have abandoned whatever made them attractive in the past. I was a DemocRat for twenty years; and then I was a Republican for twenty years. I haven’t changed; the parties have. I love the United States. Our politicians obviously don’t.

  • Wilde Bill September 21, 2015, 11:23 am

    I think the only one I trust to do as he says he is going to do is Td Cruz. He did a good job in Texas and he has done what the people who voted for him wanted him to do when elected to the Senate. He is not one of the politicians who say one thing at home and another in DC
    He is the only one to have argued for gun rights before the Supreme Court and won.

  • bruce September 21, 2015, 11:17 am

    I just really got to like Dr Carson for having brass ones for speaking and saying what 99% of Americans think. As far as gun ownership I don’t care if he has one or not he believes in the Constitution of The United States.

  • Frank Gomez September 21, 2015, 11:16 am

    Trump is an opinionated, brash, politically incorrect, ass wipe but I eould vote for him. He is the man that can hire qualified people in high positions in the government because they are capable of doing a good job and not because they are owed favors from money contributions. Then he can also fire them for not doing a good job. I cannot think of any other candidate that can face Putin and other world leaders like Ronald Reagan could when he was president. No more wimpy presidents for the United States for me. Let this country be great again with strength in our economy and military. Carly Fiorina is no Margaret Thatcher!

  • Mike Stroven September 21, 2015, 10:10 am

    Rand Paul. All the way. He’s more pro-gun than the NRA. Look at his rating from NAGR. He’s also less about imperialist wars and more about defending the US from “… All enemies, foreign and domestic.”

  • 1st Ace September 21, 2015, 9:53 am

    In the final summary you left out John Kasich. I believe if you consider all his experiences especially those within Senate, i.e. his leadership on US budget, his US Defense Committee, plus his goverorship added to his calm and rational demeanor makes him a very strong candidate for the REAL world – not the current political, TV world. Our federal budget deficit and our national defense (which includes illegal immigration) are perhaps the most significant issues that we’re now facing, and there’s little doubt he’ll be strong on both.

  • Marc Beardsley September 21, 2015, 9:46 am

    TRUMP. especially after his recent second amendment policy statement. He’s also a lifetime NRA member and a long time concealed carry permit holder.

  • CLS September 21, 2015, 8:30 am

    Graham is worth a second look. Has some negatives but his stance on the Islamic fringe that seems to be becoming mainstream is appealing.

  • Mitch B September 21, 2015, 8:29 am

    I like Trump. He is right on so many issues. I would like to hear his stance on the second amendment but I’m sure it would be favorable.

  • CC September 21, 2015, 8:23 am

    my pics

    my current pics
    1. Trump if he doesnt crash & burn like ross perot
    2. Cruz
    3. Rubio
    2. Huckabee
    3. fiorina, cant stand her but according to the media she is gaining popularity

    i suspect bush will bend to the will of democrats
    krispy kreme would lose colorado based on pot
    kasich seems good but to liberal
    before the debates i had walker #1

  • PudbertSavannahGA September 21, 2015, 8:09 am

    How can the RINO Bush get an NRA A+ when he stated that the didn’t think the 2nd Amendment was above what States can pass gun laws ? ?

  • RetNavet September 21, 2015, 6:34 am

    Cruz is the only one that you can count on with any confidence to actually get in the fight and stay to the end. Any of these jokers who utter anything about “working across the aisle” or “compromise” have zero chance of getting my vote. Libtardism is to be defeated, crushed and annihilated not compromised with.

    • Mitch September 21, 2015, 3:42 pm

      Yeah buddy, Cruz is the only one with the brains and the cahones. He’s also a skilled debater who does not get rattled under pressure. He would set Hillary’s hair on fire.

  • troyez September 20, 2015, 1:58 am

    Here’s a good comparison of all the republican candidates on most of the issues. (Fiorina is a joke overall, not what we need after 2 Obummer terms)

    • Brian September 21, 2015, 4:26 pm

      I am a solid pro Ted Cruz guy, but don’t be to quick to count Carly out just because CR gave her yellow dots. They are an insiders magazine and push their own agenda that is often personality based rather than conservative principals based. If she was actually weak on the issues they claim she is weak on it would have been thrown in her face at the debates.

      • Common Sense, Please September 21, 2015, 7:36 pm

        Once you start investigating Carly, she loses appeal for conservatism. At least red flags are raised. Like her collaboration with Sen. McPain.

      • Jon Will September 21, 2015, 11:26 pm

        Marco Rubio is the candidate I feel would do the best for the country. He has just the right amount of Washington experience to understand how corrupt it really is. Too bad we couldn’t kick the whole bunch out and start from scratch We really don’t need a “Queen” in the Oval Office.

  • Mark N. September 19, 2015, 12:46 am

    I think you can count the following out:
    Jindal, Huckabee, Rubio, Perry (has already dropped out), Graham and Santorum.
    I think the following will be in for a while, but have little to no chance:
    Christy (a RINO), Walker (no traction), Paul (same), Cruz (more traction, but not enough, and too close to the Tea Party to appeal to regular Republicans), and Carson (popular, but not popular enough. His lack of experience in foreign affairs, critical at this juncture, will sink his ship).
    That leaves us with Trump, Fiorina, and Bush. Bush is the favorite son, and choice of the party power elite, but so far he comes across as plain, boring. to make matters worse, he is obviously not pro-gun. On the other hand, he is appealing to Hispanic voters on immigration issues, and probably a lot more realistic on the issue than Trump. Trump, is popular not despite but because of his major character flaws. Most women hate him, and he is , contrary to his egocentric beliefs, not popular with Hispanics. Plus he is not part of the party power structure, and just as Rand, the party will seek to sink his ship. Finally, unless he demonstrates more substantive knowledge, the media will shred him. On the other hand, his announced 2A position today is a pro-gun wet dream, all that we have been saying lo these many years, but this will not impel the FUDs to vote for him, just the activists among us. Fiorina is sharp, smart, and unknown. I think she will be on the ticket, whether as the presidential or vice presidential candidate.

  • Nicolas Joy September 18, 2015, 12:32 pm

    Bernie Sanders is actually pretty Pro-gun. He voted against the Brady bill and bills that would make firearm stores and manufacturers liable for crimes committed with firearms. I think “solemn promises to pick up where Barack leaves off” is a lie in regards to Sanders.

    • DRAINO September 18, 2015, 6:30 pm

      He’s an admitted socialist…you can’t believe anything he says. He can’t be pro-gun….that’s totally against the socialist playbook…..its an oxymoron.

    • bigbubbabill September 21, 2015, 8:44 am

      hard to believe any american would support bernie sanders

      bernie does support gun control, he pretended to support hunting rights because of his voting base, nation wide his local hunters would be of no value to him.

      like fox news, bernie would come on anytime, after announcing his run for office he will not return phone calls from fox and flat out refuses to talk to any fox news reporters, you can bet a large donor gave him those instructions

      the only thing you can bet on with bernie is that he is !00% pro bernie his views will change based what he thinks will further his career

  • DRAINO September 18, 2015, 11:49 am

    I think this will be the year of the non-politician(kind of hope). I AM TIRED OF THE POLITICIANS!!!!! People are tired of politics and its failures(Hence Trump’s popularity). As long as Trump is genuine, I think he would be good…..He may not advance the 2A…but I don’t think he would be banning any weapons/magazines…..probably leave it to the states. Carson?….I agree….let’s see some fire, Ben!!! Carly?…..She smells like a closet politician to me. She may have been successful in business in the past, but she has political ties…..and she talks like a politician…..not talking when she should….talking when she shouldn’t…..definitely a political odor to me. I’d like to see Cruz do better….but again, a politician….and that’s not working for us…although, he would be my “politician” pick, if I had one. I was really hoping that Walker was going to shine…..but I’m not seeing it. The rest……eh…..not really excited about any of them. I do think that collectively, if all these candidates were to be put in government office leadership roles……imagine how different things would be..??? think about it.

    • Rick Tenny September 23, 2015, 4:32 am

      I don’t get the deal where everyone thinks Trump is a wash on 2A. The man has a carry permit and carries. Sounds pretty pro 2A to me.
      The Nation faces major financial issues. If you understand the nature of debt you know the trouble we’re in. For those who don’t, and I’m not trying to be a smartass giving a lecture, but the National debt which is all you hear about, is nothing compared to the internal debt of the country. Over 100 trillion spread between Companies in every business you can think of. Operating in a very weak economy. We are going to see massive sub-prime debt in the oil industry start defaulting in the near furure and that’s just one industry. All I can say is grab your ass with both hands and hang on. It ain’t gonna be pretty. The last thing we need is another numb skull running things. What ever you don’t like about him, suck it up. Trump is the only candidate with the expertise to deal with the coming carnage.

  • SuperG September 18, 2015, 11:34 am

    I’ve watched the career politicians, from both sides, screw this country up for the last 4 decades. So I’m going to give Donald a shot. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks, and doesn’t let go once he latches on. Carly screwed over 20,000 HP employees, and she’ll do that to the whole country if you put her in office. Ben is a weakling, and would probably blow Putin to make him happy.

    • Brian September 21, 2015, 4:28 pm

      That is foul, disgusting and also misinformed. You actually throw your vote behind one of the Clinton’s biggest donnors?

      • Common Sense, Please September 21, 2015, 7:32 pm

        Oh, do we have to go over that AGAIN? Trump was a businessman and he donated to everyone. That’s what you do when you are in business. Really, let’s get educated here.

      • K. Taylor September 21, 2015, 11:22 pm

        Trump is a business man; a very successful businessman. In business you put your money where it gets the most traction. Every big business donates to politicians on about a 50/50 basis until a clear winner leaps out then they go all in with donations.
        Big money donations (facilitated by their lobbyists) to politicians work for big business which is why you must not vote for any establishment politician. The winning politician is almost always a wholly owned subsidiary of big business. Trump admits to having donated/bought politicians he knows how it works. Its very likely he’ll call out the politicians who fail to support his desired legislation and in so doing will name the names of the opposing business lobbyists influencing the politicians.
        TRUMP ’16

    • Common Sense, Please September 21, 2015, 7:33 pm

      Make that 30,000 employees. And how many people has Trump given a job? Yeah, tons.

    • Steven Kaspar September 23, 2015, 5:54 pm

      And she also got a really nice severance check!

  • Nah bruh September 17, 2015, 8:55 pm

    What about deez nuts?

    • yeah bra September 18, 2015, 2:56 am

      Not as articulate as his brother Bofa deez

      • Derek September 21, 2015, 8:35 am

        First ever guns America post, even though I’ve been on the site for years.

        just to say love these 2 comments. Made my Monday morning!

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