CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla kicked off Wednesday’s GOP debate with a simple question for all the participants: What’s your biggest weakness?
He stipulated that candidates should answer “without telling us that you tried too hard or that you’re a perfectionist.” But that didn’t stop the candidates from playing fast and loose with the meaning of the word “weakness.” Here’s how almost all of them awkwardly avoided answering:
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH): My biggest weakness is the other candidates.
“I want to tell you my great concern is we’re on the verge of perhaps picking someone who cannot do this job.”
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR): My biggest weakness is that I play by the rules.
“I don’t really have any weaknesses that I can think of. But my wife is down here in the front and I’m sure if you would like to talk to her she can give you more than you will ever be able to take care of.”
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL): My biggest weakness is I’m impatient and that I can’t fake anger.
“I believe this is still the most extraordinary country on the face of the Earth. And it troubles me that people are rewarded for tearing down our country. It’s never been that way in American politics before. I can’t do it.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): My biggest weakness is I am optimistic.
“I’m not sure it’s a weakness, but I do believe that I share a sense of optimism for America’s future that today is eroding from too many of our people.”
Donald Trump: My biggest weakness is I trust everyone and forgive no one.
“I find it very, very hard to forgive people that deceived me. I don’t know if you would call that a weakness, but my wife said, ‘Let up.'”
Ben Carson: My biggest weakness is I never saw myself running for president in the first place.
“The weakness would be not really seeing myself in that position until hundreds of thousands of people began to tell me that I needed to do it.”
Carly Fiorina: My biggest weakness is I didn’t smile enough last debate.
“Gee, after the last debate I was told that I didn’t smile enough. But I also think that these are very serious times. Seventy-five percent of the American people think the federal government is corrupt.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX): My biggest weakness I am a fighter.
“If you want somebody to grab a beer with I may not be that guy. But if you want someone to drive you home — I will get the job done. And I will get you home.”
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ): My biggest weakness is the Democrats have all the weaknesses.
“I don’t see a lot of weakness on the stage, quite frankly. Where I see is the weakness is the three people left on the Democratic stage.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): My biggest weakness is Congress is about to pass a budget deal.
“Now in conservative Washington, they put forward a bill that will explode the deficit. It allows President Obama to borrow unlimited amounts of money. I will stand firm, I will spend every ounce of energy to stop it. I will begin tomorrow to filibuster it.”