He began with a terrific blast: “I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way…” There was no better way to start off, and he moved along at lightning speed for some time after that.
However, later in the debate he began to stall out, arguing with the moderators and sounding a bit shaky overall. He tried for a repeat of his CNBC thunder, when he attacked the mainstream media. Whatever you think about FOX, however, the audience didn’t buy Cruz’s attempt to catch lightning a second time, and the moment died in a painful way. However, Mr. Cruz’s closing statement, where he promised to kill terrorists and, without saying it, “make America great again" brought thunderous applause and showed that Cruz could win Iowa come Monday.
Marco Rubio, in contrast, had a horrible opening statement, which was obviously scripted, not funny, and not very memorable. However, he became stronger as the night went on, and while he didn’t win, had the fight gone into overtime, he might have gotten Cruz onto the ropes. His closing statement was well delivered and powerful, and while this is still not a three horse race, Rubio might only be three lengths behind, instead of ten or twenty.
Jeb Bush had a good night, actually getting a Republican crowd to applaud Bushes once again when he talked about his father and mother. It was an odd, rare moment in these post-Bush days. This won’t cause Mr. Bush to win the presidency, but it might be a small moment of dignity for him to get off the train at.
Ben Carson had few interesting things to say, and his closing statement was so bad I could have delivered it better, and I’m not a world famous speaker and writer like he is. I don’t expect him to come in anywhere in the top three in Iowa.
Rand Paul had a good night, going after Senator Cruz for his lack of principle on mass, unconstitutional collection of data by the government. He continues to say that he is doing much better in Iowa than the polls currently predict. I have no way of telling whether he’s right or not, but if he were to win Iowa, like he says he can do, or at least come in the top three, it would be such a massive upset that it could propel him all the way into the top tier.
Governor Chris Christie had a fantastic night, going after the Democrats and being tough on terror. I had a thought while watching him-what if he was from Texas? It is possible that if Christie came from there, with its long history of staunch conservatism, rather than New Jersey, a state suspect too many Republicans for the crime of being in the East, that Christie would be doing much better than he is. Could you imagine the governor in a cowboy hat?
At first I was surprised to see that it was audience participation night, with a crazy voter on the stage reading insane tweets sent to him by a monkey banging on a typewriter. Then I realized that it was John Kasich. If he ever drops out it will come as a disappointment to his supporter.
The moderators Chris Wallace and Bret Bair both had horrible nights, arguing with the candidates, not holding them to their cut off times, and generally running a poor show. Their questions were not as good as they could have been, and while the debate was not CNBC style bad, it fell far below the level of FOX Business first debate, the best one so far, and FOX’s own first debate, which was second best.
However, the winner of the debate was Megyn Kelly. She has managed to remain professional throughout, despite having a multi-billion dollar juggernaut throwing everything it has at her. She has been accused of horribly demeaning things, her name has been trashed, and she has been called unrepeatable names. However, Mrs. Kelly has not once bothered to stoop low enough to answer her critics. Her questions were concise, and she held the candidates to their cutoff times. From the moment she began, talking about the nine hundred pound elephant who had ran and hid from her, to the last time she signed off; after over three hours of continuous live television coverage in which she tangled with seven men who all want to be president, the night was hers, and hers alone.