PHOTO: Donald Trump ponders a comment from Republican candidate Ted Cruz

I joined the BBC World Service on Friday morning to assess last night’s Republican debate, weeks ahead of the opening contests for the nomination for the 2016 Presidential election.

The conversation started with the headline of provocative hardliner Donald Trump v. provocative hardliner Ted Cruz, the two frontrunners in the contest. However, I wanted to address wider issues raised by the invective and hyperbole of the candidates:

I’m really worried about the state of the Republican Party, and I’m really worried about the state of American politics.

Whether it was from political cynicism or genuine conviction, you saw a lot of fear last night. Fear of Muslims, fear of immigrants, fear about sensible proposals for gun control, saying that American would defend its world standing by bombing people.

This debate was supposed to be about the economy but instead you had candidates, especially Trump and Cruz, positioning themselves further and further to the extremes about what has to be done — not to bring America together, but to shut people out.

Listen from 48:41

There was a lighter moment when discussing Trump’s questioning whether Cruz can be a candidate, given that he was born in Canada.

I explained that “natural-born US citizen” means having one or two American parents, irrespective of place of birth. So my two children are qualified, even though they are natives of Britain.

Q: And when when they be standing for President?

A: Oh my gosh, the sooner the better, after what I heard last night.