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My personal assessment of the GOP debate – Main Event: The Knockdown in H-Town

This assessment will be a bit different from previous debate scorecards. It is clear now that the contest is a 3-man race; Cruz, Rubio and Trump. Governor Kasich and Dr. Carson are essentially non-entities merely taking up stage space, so for the purposes of this review, I’ve ignored them.

First and foremost; having only 5 candidates on stage really opened up the debate in a wild and woolly way. Without the unnecessary distractions of has-been, wannabe candidates crowding the stage and chewing up valuable time, the remaining field was able to engage the issues and each other; which is what led to the free-for-all that erupted.

The takeaway from the Houston Debate is that Cruz and Rubio finally teamed up to attack Trump directly, belittling him, mocking him, questioning his past, his positions and lack of answers. The attacks were led and dominated by Rubio leading me and most everyone else to conclude that he won the debate. His attacks on Trump were persistent, cutting and effective.

Rubio and Cruz went after Trump relentlessly at Thursday’s debate, not only leaving Trump flustered and incoherent, but actually pleading for Rubio to “be quiet.”

David French at National Review puts it this way:

There is a profound difference between a true “alpha male” and a bully. An alpha male commands respect; a bully tries to rule by fear. But when no one is actually afraid, the bully looks foolish. When the bully demands silence but instead receives a sarcastic retort, he reveals that that his “strength” was a mirage.

The events of the evening proved decisively that Rubio and Cruz were both more than capable of bringing a series of devastating attack on the front runner. Cruz in particular had a particularly effective exchange with Trump, when he contrasted his conservative bona fides with Trump’s politics of convenience and expediency:

TRUMP: So I think that maybe we should get a little bit of an apology from Ted. What do you think?

HEWITT: Let me — Senator.

CRUZ: Let me tell you right now, Donald, I will not apologize for a minute for defending the Constitution. I will not apologize for defending the Bill of Rights. And I find it amazing that your answer to Hugh and to the American people is, on religious liberty, you can’t have one of these crazy zealots that actually believes in it. You’ve got to be willing to cut a deal. And you know, there is a reason why, when Harry Reid was asked, of all the people on this stage, who does he want the most, who does he like the most, Harry Reid said Donald — Donald Trump. Why? Because Donald has supported him in the past, and he knows he can cut a deal with him.

Rubio landed blow after blow on Trump, as he unleashed an aggressiveness that left Trump momentarily dumbfounded;

RUBIO: He hired workers from Poland. And he had to pay a million dollars or so in a judgment from . . .

TRUMP: That’s wrong. That’s wrong. Totally wrong.

RUBIO: That’s a fact. People can look it up. I’m sure people are Googling it right now. Look it up. “Trump Polish workers,” you’ll see a million dollars for hiring illegal workers on one of his projects. He did it.

RUBIO: That happened.

TRUMP: I’ve hired tens of thousands of people over my lifetime. Tens of thousands . . .

RUBIO: Many from other countries instead of hiring Americans.

TRUMP: Be quiet. Just be quiet. Let me talk. I’ve hired tens of thousands of people. He brings up something from 30 years ago, it worked out very well. Everybody was happy.

RUBIO: You paid a million dollars.

Make no mistake; Trump left Houston wounded, despite picking up the endorsements of also-ran Chris Christie and Sen. Jeff Sessions. It is critical that Cruz and Rubio continue to attack Trump on the issues, on his record and on his positions. The attacks must be devastating and relentless. The attacks must be on Trump, NOT on his supporters. It must remain clear that Trump is unqualified and undeserving of the nomination.

The only hope Conservatism has is with a Unity Ticket, joining Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio in the effort to defeat the leftists. Whether it is a President / Vice President arrangement, or another configuration, it has become unavoidably clear that they cannot defeat Trump alone, but must unite the majority of Republicans and Conservatives to end the Trumpian threat.

 

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