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There’s no doubt this was the most anticipated debate in decades. Not because there would be 10 men who want to be our next president, but because of the inclusion of the flamboyant, multi-billion-dollar businessman, Donald Trump. Who would help the cause? Who would hurt it? I’ll break that down in a minute. But, first — it bears noting that even Fox News was unfair with Trump. Maybe the idea was to neuter him off the top to keep him in line. Maybe it was to expose him as the non-politician he is. But, the opening foray asking if there were anyone on stage who would NOT pledge to back the eventual nominee and would NOT pledge to run third party was a juvenile tactic with a known outcome that swayed the audience from the get-go. They knew the answer and they knew how it would be received. That question was not about issues, leadership, fixing what Obama has broken — it was pure political theater in front of the largest debate audience in history… an audience only so large because of the inclusion of Trump.

The Big Winners? Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. The Big Losers? Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.

Here’s my break down ranked in order of polling position going into the debate:

Donald Trump – I don’t think he helped nor hurt his cause. He’s not a politician and came across as a non-politician. People like that about him. The answer to the leading question about what he’s said about women could have been smoother. But, as much as I like Megyn Kelly, it was an unfair question with a lot missing. Trump only went after Rosie O’Donnell after Rosie first called him names.

Jeb Bush – I think the former Florida governor hurt his cause by not giving a valid answer to his support for Common Core. I also think he hurt himself by again saying going into Iraq was a mistake. No candidate should ever answer such a stupid hypothetical question. We didn’t know then what we know now. Stop asking it. I thought he came off as shaky.

Scott Walker – Here’s a guy we’re still getting to know nationally and frankly he didn’t stand out. He was smooth and firm in his answers but there was nothing that I felt separated him from the pack.

Mike Huckabee – The former Arkansas governor turned talk show host reminded the country how firm he is in his beliefs, how you can be firm like that while coming off as very genuine and nice and had a great turn of phrase in his closing statement seeming to allude to Donald Trump then telling us he was actually talking about Hillary Clinton. He acquitted himself very well. I think he might have rediscovered what had helped him so much in his unexpected successes in 2008.

Ben Carson – A big winner of the night. The former neurosurgeon stumbled out of the box by showing his lack of charisma on early questions. But, once he found his comfort level and, more importantly, once we realized his very intellectual sense of humor, his ratings went through the roof for me. His answer on race was superior and he was strong on a question about waterboarding. His closing statement was amazing as he talked about his accomplishments as a doctor while still humorously dropping an attack the establishment in Washington, D.C.

Ted Cruz – The Jr Senator from Texas was another big winner of the night. Living in Texas, I am well-aware of what he promised he’d do as a senator and that he’s followed through on those promises. The nation didn’t know that. I think many got to know him last night and liked what they heard. He’s probably the most staunch conservative in the field and was unwavering. His answers were concise and direct and on point.

Marco Rubio – The senator from Florida did well. He came off as smooth and well-rehearsed but, I didn’t get the feeling he stood out. He had a snappy line about how Hillary Clinton can’t lecture him about living paycheck to paycheck which I think will resonate well with voters. I think he didn’t help nor hurt his cause.

Rand Paul – The senator from Kentucky takes a lot of heat for being and angry guy. For some reason, he listens to the criticism and makes excuses for it. He shouldn’t. This is who he is. He has strong beliefs and will fight for them. I think he had a real opportunity to make great gains last night but he allowed Chris Christie to get under his skin and probably nullified any chance of moving up. He left the stage in the same position entered it for me.

Chris Christie – The aforementioned New Jersey governor is being widely praised for his performance last night. I wholeheartedly disagree. Chris Christie let the nation see him as a big government, Northeast moderate with his stance on surveillance. He’s so wrong on it and so firm in his wrongness that I was actually a little embarrassed by it. Yes, the Fourth Amendment matters. No, I don’t feel safer because the government is collecting my phone and email data. No, you’re not right and you do not come off as conservative.

John Kasich – Many thought former governor Rick Perry should have been on that stage instead of Kasich. He resonated very well with the audience because he had a hometown crowd. His answer on why he expanded Medicaid didn’t make sense to me. He did come off as a nice guy steeply rooted in his beliefs. He edged up maybe a little for me.

That’s what I saw. The big winners from the early debate were Carly Fiorina and Rick Perry. I’d like to see them on the big stage next time.

Pags

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36 Comments

  • avatar image
    TonyBoy
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Trump was the winner my personal opinion.

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      Candace Gates
      August 9, 2015 Reply

      Cuz.. Trump...only honest ones. Trump not getting paid to stand up there and tell you what he thinks you want to hear!

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    Lucy
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I thought Fox news channel really did a poor job at hosting this event. I missed first hour, but when l did start watching the first question l saw go to Trump was about his fight with Rosie. What does that have anything to do with except lead into his next question about his bankruptcy. Geeze. But l liked his answers, Cruz, Rubio good also. But for Fox to need to create more minons is not a good thing.

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    Brian Peters
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Joe, I have to say that for me, with a long view of what is to come, Trump hurt himself with his continual refusal to give facts and details, as well as his combative attitude. Also Rand Paul did little to promote his libertarian views, which IMHO is for the better since I believe he is too extreme on some issues, especially national defense. Rubio and Carson were definitely the big winners of the big debate and Fiorina ran away with it for the earlier one. Between now and the next debate I believe that Paul will drop in the polls, Fiorina will replace him and the others will begin to catch the Donald.

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    Michael Doss
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Ted Cruz was definitely a winner in this debate. He is presidential, doesn't lose his cool, constitutional, conservative. Let's not forget he is a debate champion. I especially liked his response to baited "God speaking to you " question near the end of debate.

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    Kenny
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I turned it off right after the "Bimbo" attacked Trump. The only question I have for Trump is; What is the third party going to be called and when can I join.?

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    Tad
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    You got it pretty much right. I was surprised that after all was said and done that it was Fox going after Trump and not other candidates. It was an unfortunate tactic and had it been played by another network, surely would have raised the ire of the right. I will disagree an Christie and Rubio. Christie may have made himself relevant again with the Paul exchange. Rubio, I thought looked calm and in control, very presidential but. his youthful appearance could be a hindrance to him. Plus, I still can see him in my mind reaching for a bottle of water. I don't get to hear you ofter, but love it when you do national fill-ins. Glad I found your page!

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    Sheryl Scherer
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I think the biggest loser was FNC. I did NOT like the tone the moderators set. It was very clear they had marching orders. Won't watch another debate. I'm so very disappointed in FoxNews. I am a Cruz supporter but I believe in fair play. So much for fair and balanced.

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    John Babb
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    As usual, Joe, we agree on just about everything. I have been observing for weeks that Fox News generally mischaracterizes what Trump has said about illegal aliens, much like the other TV "news" outlets. Starting the debate with questions aimed squarely at the bullseye on his chest confirmed my suspicions about Fox's intentions. In that respect they are treating him very unfairly. Now, let me switch to the other side of my self-debate on Trump. I am not a fan of him at all. It's because he gives money to a wide range of politicians. That says he is OK with big money buying political favors. It says his first priority is his treasure and power, not the country. He is so divisive I do not believe he can win, and I think he is very intelligent and that he knows he cannot win. Something smells bad about his intentions. It smells like Clinton.

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    Steve Beaver
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I agree with your assessment

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    Betty Shea Hoffman
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Fox news was dirty and childish. I think Ted Cruz won...and I am now really impressed with Carly.

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    Rosalie DiNoto
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I think it was a way to degrade Trump which clearly they had an agenda..this is why he won't commit b/c how not fair and balanced they are..he still is leading an immense lead in the poles on the drudge report..so the more theytry to hurt him, the higher he climbs...they acted like fools, especially Chris and Kelly; really surprised at Chris he should know better; they gigled and sneered all nite yet the commentators keep saying how well they did...who is telling them this? what fools they looked like; lost alot of viewers...

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    Marilee Mills
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I agree with Joe Pags' conclusions, except for Kasich. But I was negative on Kasich before the debate. I am a Buckeye, who is temporarily in Indiana. I know Kasich as a moderate, at best. What Kasich said about the health care issue is that it is worth being in debt in order to provide health care for criminally insane felons. Not viable by any standard.

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    Christopher
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Walker lost my support-i had some hope for him but he is not ready for primetime...maybe a vp. Kasich surprised me but too Jimmy Carterish. Trump has no substance just points out our problems with no solutions- a Clinton plant to keep things stirred up. Rubio won the debate in my opinion and will make a great vice president. Unfortunately, Bush did not harm himself and while I am not a supporter of him he was the most presidential which is not saying much against trump. Too bad both bush and Rubio are from the same state they would be a strong ticket. Guess i am holding out hope that number seventeen or eighteen to announce, whom ever that might be will be able to get the party excited...just my thought joe

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    Mark Haight
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I like Mike! His comments on the military and unborn children really rang true with me. He's smart, calm, and presidential

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    Johnny Duffek Jr
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    While the quality of candidates has gotten much better considering previous years elections, I still have yet to see one that isn't afraid to stand out from the rest and say what needs to be said. We need a president who clearly will stand up for America and let all of the other countries know that we are the leaders of the free world and will take whatever measures needed to remain a leader and wipe out corruption and terrorism throughout the world. I have yet to see that person(who is qualified to lead) up on stage yet , even though I know that person is there. Hopefully time will tell.

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      Trudy
      August 7, 2015 Reply

      Really look at Carson and Cruz. Both are outsiders, will tell you exactly what they stand for, their solutions, can lead, and are not for sale.

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    Ron
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Pretty much agree with what you said.

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    nancy washburn
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    i like them all, we need them all , i respect their achievements..we have sent many good people to dc, only to cave...please , no evangelicals, and no ,making abortions illegal..legal but rare..tell them how to avoid unwanted pregnancy lust, look what you have done..

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    Jack Alton Strawn
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Winners were Rubio, Cruz, and Carson, and Fiorina. These four were fantastic.

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    Portia
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I'm a buckeye babe who is a boomer. Don't knock him. I don't know Kasich personally but I know some of his friends and people who work for and with him. They are customers in my business. They are a decent bunch of hard working folks. Also, FOX did not go after Trump. Better that it comes out now then for the Democrats to do it. To be honest I don't trust the Clintons and I don't trust Trump. However, I do appreciate that he is exposing the wheeling and dealing that goes on between business and politics. In the future I would like to see less Trump and more Fiorina.

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    barbara
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    I thought this debate was done terribly by FOX......Megyn i think was given the nastiest of the barbs cuz she is so well liked...but, i personally can't stand chris matthews and he showed his nastiness last nite.............they tried to screw trump, and Paul and Carson were almost left out of it...........They need to change the format and give the candidates more time than the moderators. Am really ashamed of Fox for their actions last nite

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      Roy
      August 8, 2015 Reply

      excuse me but Cruz was not asked a question for 80 mins after his first questions cruz had only 4 questions paul lost some because he tried to interact so that takes time away from him and christie. but over all both cruz and carson had the least questions.

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    Barb Hofmeister
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    What about Carly? She came across very presidential. Soft spoken and didn't talk down to anyone. Would love to see more of her.

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    Dominic Marion
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Overall I agree with your summation of last evening, however I think that "The Donald" did better than you think, as did Rand Paul for that exchange with Gov. Christie on the Constitutional protections 'vs' "NSA spying on American Citizens". As a very conservative person from Jersey it was really sad to see someone from the Great Garden State say that the Constitution was not important. I was glad to see Dr. Carson do well at the end as he had a slow start, and the pleasant surprise of the evening was Carly Fiorina breaking away from the pack in the first debate of the evening. Watching the first debate seemed more like that was the main event than the prime time debate.

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    James Richter
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Could everyone please call Megan Kelly "Candy Crowley" from now on out?

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    Trudy
    August 7, 2015 Reply

    Fox News did what the democrats will do to the candidates and need credit for getting the jump on what the "D"'s will make this election about. If Donald can't handle the heat, get out. Carson and Cruz were the only winners - they told it like it is and gave us a look into what they are committed to while the rest were only sounding like career politicians giving us their resume. Cruz & Carson on a ticket will get my vote!

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    Fiona sawicki
    August 8, 2015 Reply

    I like Trump, Cruz and Carson. Think all did reasonably well for first debate of this election. However I do have to point out one wrong statement from Trump. Scotland is not doing well on a single payer healthcare. Scotland is almost bankrupt because of it and you have to go on waiting lists for any procedure including 8 month lists for diagnostic MRI. I hope he does not run with single payer healthcare.

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    Gary Reynolds
    August 8, 2015 Reply

    I think Rand Paul put Christie in his place. Paul gets my vote. Others I like are Dr. Carson and Huckabee. Carson and Paul are the most intelligent and Huckabee a seasoned statesman.

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    greg
    August 8, 2015 Reply

    Morning Joe When the debate started I thought i was watching msnbc or cnn. Trump held on.when Megan referred to someone looking good on their knees thats from an episode of the apprentence the lady involved cleared that up and no it wasn't sexual. Why was Debbie Wassermann Schultz being interviewed by Megan 2 minutes after the debate. thanks Joe

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    Todd
    August 8, 2015 Reply

    A Denver talk radio host, Mandy Connell, was talking earlier in the week about her disappointment that Carly Fiorina did not make the field of 10. After watching her performance in the 5 PM debate -- I can see why! Several candidates (Cruz, Carson, and Huckabee) won respect from me - but I came away most impressed with Fiorina! Talk about someone who could disarm Hillary Clinton! I think having the opportunity to "shine" in the earlier debate will help her down the road! I hope others are listening to her!

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    Ferguson Azille
    August 8, 2015 Reply

    It seems that another woman is in place to take down another great man.. Should we seat by and do nothing . No we shouldn't let's fight for what is right and that's taking back america from all the lobbyist politicians and lyers go trump go trump

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    C. Perkins
    August 9, 2015 Reply

    Intriguing analysis; largely agree. Yes, Fox News, Ms. Kelly, and her two colleagues "stepped in it." Carson and Huckabee helped themselves and to some extent Rubio. I like Cruz very much ... would like to hear more from him. Overall, Fiorina stole the show. I enjoy your program Pags.

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    Mr. Byrd
    August 9, 2015 Reply

    I think that their pursuit of Trump will undermine the entire election process, unless he decides to drop out or gets forced out. By trying their best to insult, instigate, offend and or intimidate him - they are not only strengthening his persona, but allowing others to escape coverage of the real issues. To me this was a classic setup and the debate aficionado's new what they were doing. Put Trump on the defensive and force the offensive and then take and push as much media hype as they could into that scenario(negative of course). I actually wish he had not fallen for it, but he is who he is.

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      Mr. Byrd
      August 9, 2015 Reply

      of course I agree with you opinion for the most part. Its very early.

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    Steve Jordan
    August 10, 2015 Reply

    I liked what Sen. Rubio had to say as well as how he stated his position; if you look back at his speech at the Republican convention in 2014 you will see more to like... Ms. Carly Fiorina came across as what she is a shrewd businesswoman and someone that is tired of the same old crap from Democrates.... I would truly love to see a Rubio/Fiorina Republican ticket in 2016 so that we can tell Hillary that "yes, it is about time we have a woman in the White House; just not you and slick Willie tagging along"....

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