I have just finished live tweeting the CNBC GOP Debate in Boulder, Colorado. Here is my post-mortem.
Before I begin with the candidates let me say that the triumvirate of John Harwood, Carlos Quintanilla and Becky Quick was absolutely awful. They could barely conceal their contempt for the Republican candidates on stage. They might as well have wearing Hillary buttons.
Say what you will about FOX and CNN’s debate coverage. They are both leagues ahead of CNBC.
John Kasich – He doesn’t do angry well. His criticisms of Trump and Carson fell flat. Again, he doesn’t make such an impact when he’s debating outside of Ohio.
Mike Huckabee – He spoke well when called upon and displayed his usual humor. His talk about preventative medicine was interesting as well. But I don’t think he’ll stop social conservatives from seeking out Carson just yet.
Jeb Bush – Aside from his fantasy football record, he had little to brag about. He came off like a scolding school teacher when he criticized Marco Rubio’s Senate attendance record.
Marco Rubio – The debate panelists focused on his absenteeism from the Senate and his financial status and he knocked it out of the park. His most memorable line is when he says that the Democrats have a SuperPAC – the mainstream media. In his closing statement, it struck me when he said that America didn’t owe him anything. My maternal grandfather used to tell me, “The world doesn’t owe you a living.” Rubio continues to have great debates. But will he see any meaningful bump in the polls?
Donald Trump – This was his most self-contained, respectful performance to date. His remark about ending SuperPACs was curious though. Does he oppose the Citizens United decision? That kind of remark is usually de rigueur in left-wing circles. Nevertheless, I think he will remain a force to be reckoned with although he now has company with Ben Carson.
Ben Carson – The good doctor sounded like he was cramming for an economics quiz when discussing tax policy. But he was his usual eloquent self especially when he said, “Being against gay marriage doesn’t mean you’re homophobic.” I believe Carson will continue to climb in the polls.
Carly Fiorina – She handled Becky Quick’s questions about her time at H-P quite well and suggested the federal government adopt zero-based budgeting. Again, as with Rubio, she had another good debate. But as with Rubio that won’t necessarily translate into improved poll numbers.
Ted Cruz – The highlight of the night was his swipe that debate panel for their loaded questions. But as long as Trump is around, Cruz is likely to remain stalled in the polls.
Chris Christie – The New Jersey governor showed signs of why Republicans fell in love with him a few years ago with his calling out John Harwood and mentioning how ridiculous it is for the federal government to get involved with fantasy football. But Republicans have long memories and I don’t think they will warm to him anymore than they did after his last solid debate performance.
Rand Paul – He was smart to stay away from Trump and concentrate on his libertarian values where it concerned the budget, Social Security and Medicare. It was his best debate performance thus far and he needed it. The jury is out as to whether this gets him any traction in the polls.
The next GOP debate takes place less than two weeks from now in Milwaukee. It will air on November 10th on the Fox Business Network and will be sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. Somehow I think the Fox Business Network and the WSJ will be much better than the clowns at CNBC.
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