One of the most important things for a candidate for any office to maintain is message discipline. You cannot let others dominate the conversation nor can you let others pull you off your platform and down into talking about other, unrelated things. Through everything that happened last night m, Donald Trump maintained shocking message discipline.
He managed to bring to bear all of his familiar and much loved talking points “he’s small, he’s a loser, I’m really rich,” while refusing to be knocked off his game by the facts. When Megyn Kelly showed clips of him clearly contradicting himself, he blew it off. When shown that the numbers for his proposals clearly did not add up, Trump maintained message discipline, repeating his platform “build a wall,” “the polls are good.” When confronted with the fact that Mitt Romney, the man who the party backed four years ago does not support him, Donald Trump reverted to a major part of his stump speech…screaming.
Marco Rubio had an ok night, although if I were a conspiracy theorist I would say he and Ted Cruz were already collaborating-having gotten together to stop the Donald. Both of them dancing around and punching Trump from the back and front, but neither dropping out so they can continue to maul him on the debate stage.
Rubio does indeed need to drop out soon, and will probably do so before he faces the inevitable and embarrassing loss of his own home state of Florida.
John Kasich was rather boring, sort of a cross between Charlie Brown’s teacher and a white noise machine. I can’t imagine he will last much longer, but he does seem determined to fight Donald Trump, whatever the cost. If for no other reason than to keep Ohio away from Trump, Kasich seems likely to stay in at least until then.
And then there was the winner of the debate, Ted Cruz. While Rubio and Trump were arguing about the size of Trump’s hands, calling each other “Little Marco” and “big Trump,” Cruz didn’t open his mouth; he just stood, trying not to laugh. Instead of calling names he argued about policy, while at the same time drawing a contrast between himself and two men who cannot win, and one man who must not win.
Perhaps Cruz should not have said “count to ten” to Trump, maybe he shouldn’t have encouraged him to breathe, although, to be fair, perhaps Cruz was just concerned about him. But for all that, Cruz did manage do a masterful job last night, and any team that put together such a debate performance for their candidate can be very proud of themselves and of him.
A word on the moderators: Megyn Kelly handled Trump well, while Bret Bair was alright. Chris Wallace had his moments, although there were some questions he asked that could have been phrased better.
Last night it was Donald Trump vs. the world, and the world is going to win this thing.
Andrew C. Abbott