Last night the big story was that Jeb Bush lost and Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio won. Rubio lit up the stage with fantastic attacks on the media and the Democrats, basically giving bowls full of blood food to the GOP Base. His line that the mainstream media is a Democratic Super PAC was brilliant, and the best of the night, only rivaled by Ted Cruz’s sixty second, pointed, substantive smashing raillery against CNBC itself.
Even when he was on the defensive, Rubio managed to get in great shots, especially against Jeb Bush, who, in his attacks against Rubio came off as patronizing and condescending. He looked horrible last night, like he was the owner of some old book store looking over his glasses, through the clouds of dust to tell Marco Rubio he shouldn’t be in such a hurry. Since when did Jeb Bush become an Ent?
Ted Cruz managed to have substance and charisma, and he might slowly be starting to be feeling the surge of support he has across the country with the millions of progressive conservatives that are rallying to his standard.
Trump had a so-so night, although his closing statement was well delivered. He isn’t likely to be hurt much by the debate.
Ben Carson bombed. For months he has been talking about his 10% tax plan, and suddenly he has said that his plan call for more like a 15% tax. The man needs to go back to operating on brains, or better yet, retire and become a spokesmen for a Christian organization.
Christie did well, and if it were any other election cycle, he would be rising in the polls right now. But it’s not any other cycle, its 2015, and even though Christi had many good points, his ground game continues to fade, and he likely won’t make it much farther than Iowa, if he even makes it there.
Fiorina had several good moments, but her numbers continue to decline. Last night probably didn’t hurt her much, but it didn’t help her either. She seemed to be more of an “also-ran” this time around than in the previous two debates.
Kasich did poorly, while Paul caught no lightning at a time he really, really needs to. Unless a bunch of people die, I don’t expect to see him in Iowa.
Mike Huckabee was ok, no lightning, but the man continues to be a great communicator. He swung the bat when he got the chance, and while he didn’t hit any home runs, there were a lot of singles, a couple of doubles and maybe even a triple from him last night.
As for the network, CNBC fielded the worst debate I ever seen on national television, including the one moderated by Candy Crowley. It was awful last night. The moderators kept losing control, arguing with the candidates and asking ridiculous questions. Cruz and Trump were right to go after them. The network should never have let Jim Crammer from Mad Money ask any questions of the candidates. What with his investing and the many controversial statements he has made over the years, the man is not a journalist; he is a walking conflict of interest.
But above all, it was Cruz and Rubio's night.
Andrew C. Abbott