My personal assessment of the GOP debate – Main Event:
Ted Cruz was very impressive and strong. He consistently offered substantive answers on complex questions, highlighting his extensive knowledge on the issues. His delivery – when not too packaged – is forthright and on-point. He did best when attacking the crony corporatism in big government, and his tax plan outlined how to best help the middle class, especially struggling single mothers. He got lucky no one noticed when he mistakenly said the Commerce Department twice while naming the agencies he proposes to close, leaving out the Education Department. He must focus on engaging in a more conversational approach, and less speechifying.
Marco Rubio had a good, not great performance. Memorable, passionate and smart answers to questions that allowed him to really distinguish himself on questions of family, taxes, and most importantly on foreign policy and the military. His realistic, knowledgeable answers on threats faced by America across the globe demonstrate he is a serious candidate. Finishes second to Cruz due mostly to canned responses to some questions, which came out as excerpts from his stump speeches.
Carly Fiorina was good in the moments when she had opportunities to discuss her policy preferences at length. Did well to discuss market-based healthcare solutions. Came across as forceful, intelligent and focused. Presents a very compelling argument on directly confronting and challenging Hillary Clinton.
Ben Carson did better in this debate, compared to previous ones, but won’t likely gain votes from this performance. He offered more substance than some of his detractors would have expected, but that was a low bar. He lacked energy, was halting and tentative, and seemed uneasy when he got out of his depth on foreign policy.
Rand Paul did great if this had been a Libertarian debate. But it wasn’t. From the perspective of GOP base voters, his views on foreign policy border on naivete. Managed to capitalize on Trump’s mistaken inclusion of China in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.
Jeb Bush did nothing to save his faltering campaign. In spite of his expertise on policy and impressive record of conservative accomplishment, he remained on the outside looking in during almost the entire debate. gave a great response to the problems community banks face, shifting the focus from the “too-big-to-fail” mega banks. His campaign is on a downward glidepath.
Donald Trump was way out of his depth, in a debate that should have highlighted his extensive business career, he meandered through answers devoid of content or substance. Trump’s inability to form cogent arguments in favor of his positions has become his liability. The shine is off. The schtick is wearing thin.
John Kasich was almost unwatchable. He should have switched places with Lindsey Graham – out of the debate altogether. As the evening wore on, his answers grew further and further distant from reality, as he worked hard to ensure that those watching the debate grew to find him an annoying distraction from the conversation. He fails to understand his views are anathema to the conservative grassroots, further distancing himself from the base of the GOP. His whiny tone betrays an unseemly petulance.