As I did with the State of the Union address, I watched the latest GOP Debate so you didn’t have to. This was finally a debate filled with substance and enough time for all on stage to be heard and questioned. First and foremost, it bears mentioning, I did not watch what I call the “Kid’s Table” pre-debate-debate. At this point, sadly, that’s a waste of time. And, Senator Rand Paul boycotting the debate was childish and doesn’t serve him well.
My overview is that Senator Ted Cruz won by a long shot with Donald Trump second and Senator Marco Rubio and Dr. Ben Carson close in third. There are specific reasons why that I’ll get to. If you needed to pick a moment of the debate — that would be hard. Trump and Cruz both had great moments. They both had bad moments too. Both their highlights and low-lights were connected to one another. I’ll go in order of their rankings according to a compilation of national polls:
He came out of the box like a petulant child on the Cruz “natural-born citizen,” issue/non-issue. Instead of listening to the obviously correct assertions from Cruz and agreeing to their merit, he insisted he was right and Cruz would find out. That seemed unreasonable to me and the source he was citing is a far-left-wing loon who hates conservatives like Cruz. Beyond that, however, Trump had an amazing moment when he talked about the people of New York City. On the campaign trail in Iowa, Cruz called out the values of New York City. He was right in what he said and I’ll explain why in his portion. But, Trump was able to turn the tables and talk about the resilience of those in the city after 9/11 and gave himself a great moment. Cruz did not counter nor further explain himself which hurt him. Trump also shined on the topic of trade and China. As the others said he couldn’t punish China for its bad trade behaviors, he made a ton of sense in why it’s necessary. He could have gone further, however, as Bush and some others were able to use the scare tactics of higher prices against him. He could have countered that Americans could afford and would be willing to pay higher prices if the jobs came back and the goods were made here. All in all, pretty good night for Mr. Trump.
Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)
Cruz came out of the box on fire. He did the right thing by talking about our sailors captured by the Iranians and he tapped into the anger we Americans have over the ridiculous fake relationship we’re told we have with Iran. That was a very smart move off the top. He also did exemplary in explaining the “natural-born citizen” issue. And, as I said, Trump responded badly. He held his own and spelled it out clearly and simply to those who don’t get it. He did miss a major opportunity when it came to his New York City comments. As Trump did marvelously in his response to the Cruz statement, Cruz could have easily said, “I wasn’t talking about the individuals of this great city. I was talking about the propensity to elect far leftwing nuts to run the state and run the city. There is socialism, communism and flat out thievery from the people going on in NYC and that’s a value system Americans reject.” He didn’t do that. Instead, he just heard Trump out and dropped it. He did well to go after Marco Rubio although he wasn’t allowed enough time to respond to Rubio’s planned 11 item attack. All in all, Cruz won the night.
Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida)
Rubio is very smooth but refuses to address something conservatives need addressed. Why on Earth did he join with Sen. Chuck Schumer to promote Obama’s ability to give amnesty to those here illegally? He needs to address this in a way it makes sense to the core, or he has no shot. I like how prepared he is and how he stays on point in what he wants us to believe about him. I do think his absenteeism from voting in the Senate will hurt him.
Dr. Ben Carson
Carson always brings a great level of levity to the debates and then he has this great propensity to flip a switch and drop some awesome intellectual knowledge on us. The once front-runner is fading mostly because of the shake-up in his campaign. Can he survive? I don’t think so. But, I think he brings a great outsider’s perspective to the activities and I hope he stays in to see if he can rebuild the lost momentum.
Gov Chris Christie (New Jersey)
I understand Christie was once a US Attorney. Happened right before 9/11 if I do recall. Sorry, I couldn’t resist throwing that in there as he seems to do at every available opportunity. Christie’s strong point is his ability to simply communicate to us. He’s great at that. The problem is, he wants more surveillance on the American people and he wants the federal government to have the ability to pick and choose who gets their Social Security benefits — benefits we’re all forced to pay in. He didn’t adequately answer the charges he was for Common Core nor whether he’s donated to Planned Parenthood. He did say he never wrote a check — but, that doesn’t answer the question.
Gov Jeb Bush (Florida)
I like the Bush family and would take another 8 years of GW Bush over what we’ve endured from Obama or what we could face under Clinton. Having said that, I really think it’s time for Jeb Bush to face reality. He’s not the kind of republican the electorate wants this year. He’s been out talked, out shined, out played and out campaigned for months now. He’s not gaining ground, he’s almost off the stage. He seems like a very nice man. But, in this cycle, that could be his downfall. He needs to not feign toughness, he needs to bring toughness. I don’t know that he has it in him. His comments on the trail about how illegal immigrants break the law out of love and his support for Common Core are deadly to his chances.
Gov John Kasich (Ohio)
No matter the topic, Kasich has done it in both the US Congress and the great state of Ohio. That’s his calling card, “I’ve done it in Washington, D.C. and in Ohio and I’ll do it again.” Not working, governor. Try something else. I’m good with Kasich being excluded going forward. That time could be better spent on candidates that have a viable chance. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drop out soon.
In conclusion, I think it’s down to a four man race: Trump, Cruz, Rubio and Carson. I hope we’ll see some of the others drop out soon as we need to have a congealed message going into primary season. There are too many voices, too many opinions, too many strategies and the last thing conservatives want is another administration like this one that grabs power because 10s of millions of conservatives decided to stay home and not vote. Again, last night was the best debate of the sting of debates thus far. We need fewer candidates and more substance as the primaries are about to kick off.