I have just finished watching and live tweeting the GOP main stage debate held in Des Moines and aired on Fox News. Here are my thoughts.
John Kasich – He had a wonderfully eloquent statement about the plight of the mentally ill, but was otherwise a non-factor in the debate. Kasich has been polling well in New Hampshire and will stick around at least until February 9th.
Jeb Bush – He gets better and better with every debate. Despite saying he missed the presence of Trump, I think he was far more relaxed with his absence. Bush came across as confident and even landed a punch against Rubio on immigration. Will voters now give Bush a second look? Not unless he changes his name.
Marco Rubio – He had his usual moments such as when he said the Jesus and not he was the Savior or when he said the first thing Hillary would do as President is pardon herself. But Rubio got bloodied in the debate over immigration after Megyn Kelly showed video clips of his changing positions on the subject and it was Bush who landed the hardest punch. While I still he is the most eloquent candidate on the stage this was his worst debate performance to date and it could not have come at a worse time.
Ted Cruz – This was his worst debate performance as well. At first, he seemed to be playing it safe. But then he went after the moderators for not letting him rebut Chris Christie despite the fact Christie didn’t mention him. At one point, Cruz threatened to leave the stage and this did not sit well with the audience. Megyn Kelly also showed video clips of his inconsistent positions on immigration and he didn’t come out well. With Trump’s absence, Cruz had a lot to lose in this debate and, unfortunately for him, he did.
Ben Carson – He might have more experience in handling crisis situations at 2 a.m. than anyone else, but there’s a world of difference between an operating theater and a theater of war. He might be able to recite the preamble of The Constitution, but he is ill-suited to be asked to uphold it next January. There is a place for Carson in public life, but it’s not the White House.
Chris Christie – A very solid debate performance. While Christie has been focusing his attention in New Hampshire, it will be interesting to see if Iowa voters give him a second look on Monday night.
Rand Paul – He returned to the debate stage after declining to participate in last month’s debate in South Carolina when he was demoted to the undercard. While Paul received a boisterous reception I have a feeling that most of his voters were in the debate hall.
And the winner of the debate is…..Donald Trump.
As much as it pains me to say it, I don’t think any of the other candidates (even Bush and Christie) did enough to topple Trump from top spot. I think big doubts were raised about both Cruz and Rubio especially where it concerns immigration. Now as I argued the other day I do think there are Iowans who aren’t amused with him flaking out on the debate. I do think Trump took a big risk by no showing, but after having seen the debate the risk might very well pay off.
The next GOP debate will take place on February 6th in New Hampshire and air on ABC.