Like a great machine that had not been revved up in a while, Mr. Trump took a few minutes to come on. But when he did, his attacks were suddenly dynamic. Instead of yelling at Cruz, he offered him the vice presidential spot, instead of screaming that the senator was born in Canada, he just said that there were questions. Instead of railing about Cruz’ “New York” comment, Mr. Trump staged an epic putdown, and did it the harshest way possible-with a soft spoken voice. Trump's Nikki Haley response was also well done.
So the debate eventually shaped up to be a fight that Cruz may have won on points, but in which Trump went the distance, and could have possibly won in a split decision.
As for the moderators, they were good, but not quite on par with last time's performance. They were not hard enough on cutoff times, and Donald Trump should not have gotten the seventh question of the night; as the man in first place, he should have been brought in sooner. However, FOX Business was at least a B+.
Senator Marco Rubio, who continues to poll in the crucial third place in Iowa, had an ok debate, but was unable at any point to dominate for longer than a few moments. As long as he remains in third place in Iowa, he looks to be able to move on from there. There remains a path for him to the nomination, but it’s getting narrower, and it’s getting steeper.
Governor Chris Christie had another good debate, right from his opening line where he attacked the State of the Union Address as “story time with Obama.” But Christie is not doing fantastic, and the essential right wing of the Republican Party, without which the nomination cannot be won, remains united against him. It seems more likely that Stephen Colbert was right when he said that Governor Christie will drop out of the race to go to work at a bowling alley, where he can “close a lane any time he wants.”
In a strange twist, Jeb Bush at last looked fully presidential last night. He seemed less like a nerd who was angry at a jock for misrepresenting physics facts, and more like a man who could be a serious contender in a presidential election. But it is too little, way, way too late. It seems safe to say, even without the benefit of tarot cards, that Jeb Bush will not be the nominee.
As for the two other guys on the stage, the doctor and the annoying kid from every Disney Show you hopefully were never forced to watch. Well, at least they can say they were there, you know they might not graduate but at least they’ll have a class picture, so that’s something, right? Carson continues to have a dedicated group of supporters, so dedicated that, depending on the weather, they might manage to squeeze Team Rubio into a disastrous fourth place finish in Iowa. But they wouldn’t be able to do much more than that. As for Kasich’s supporters...he should get himself some.
Andrew C. Abbott