As I have "poor man TV" (aka over-the-air broadcast), I watched the GOP debate last night online. Here are some of my thoughts.
- 1-T: Cruz (A) and Rubio (A)
- 2: Trump (B-)
- 3. Christie (B-)
- 4. Bush (C)
- 5. Kasich (C)
- 6. Carson (D)
For the first two-thirds of the debate, I thought Ted Cruz was winning big. He obliterated Trump on the "birther" question - the first candidate to clearly and thoroughly beat Trump in an exchange so far this election cycle. He failed to get time to respond to Marco Rubio's late shotgun blast, and that took wind out of his sails.
Rubio had some good moments early, but seemed to flail in the middle of the debate. He lost his exchange with Christie, but can take consolation in the fact that Christie pretty much lied through his teeth on everything in that back-and-forth. He finished with a late but very strong attack on Cruz.
I think the debate was a Cruz-Rubio tie, possibly slight edge to Cruz.
Donald Trump exceeded my expectations. He had a masterful reply to the "angry" question, and had the best possible delivery of his "New York values" rebuttal. This was by far his best debate -- in fact, he continues to improve debate after debate.
Chris Christie was strong early, but as I mentioned above, blatantly lied about his record in the exchange with Rubio. He also has this terrible habit of interrupting substantive policy discussions with belittling comments about "the Senate floor", and "people don't care about this". Um, excuse me, but some people want to actually find out.
Jeb Bush was typical Jeb - bumbling and stumbling. I can't for the life of me figure out why he is so awful at speaking. He trips over words, sounds and looks awkward, and otherwise acts as if he's never done public speaking in his life. He'll get going on an intelligent and well-stated point, only to stumble through the ending. While he didn't have a disastrous debate, he needed an excellent performance, and didn't get close to it.
John Kasich was more coherent in this debate, and unlike every time before this sounded somewhat conservative at times. One of his (many) problems is that he constantly brings up how long he's been in politics (i.e. in Washington "during the Cold War"... which is an eternity ago in today's political world). He's probably the most tone-deaf candidate this cycle. This time, he managed to avoid last place.
Ben Carson bombed. Debates are not his strong point to begin with. He seemed caught off-guard by several questions, almost as if he was daydreaming. He had one or two good answers, but most of his responses were rambling. Especially on foreign policy, he sounded like he was reciting facts that he recently learned... but that everybody else knew already (in this debate, it was EMPs, dirty bombs, and cyber attacks). His campaign is floundering, and the reasons for his campaign to continue are dwindling fast.
Those are my thoughts. Leave a comment with yours.