He soared when talking education with fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, but continued to fumble for a thoughtful statement on foreign policy. While he offered low-key, rational thoughts on a few issues such as immigration during the night, there was no promotion to frontrunner status.
Despite attempts at thoughtfulness, he seemed mostly outnumbered and outclassed by candidates with a better grasp of the issues and details beyond congenial soundbites. Look for him to be demoted to junior varsity status.
Verbal fisticuffs with Paul over the NSA’s bulk phone data collection provided the debate’s most dramatic moment. The New Jersey governor was impressive in defending a balance between civil liberties and national security. He also won a round against Mike Huckabee on a Social Security question. Looking more like the combative Chris Christie of four years ago.
Ok, he doesn’t mind slamming members of his own party and the “Washington cartel.” But Cruz did nothing to break out of the pack or engender confidence in his ability to govern.
Years of commentary on Fox News make him an effective spokesman for the far right. But good luck being taken seriously, especially after that “tax the pimps and prostitutes” suggestion.
The former governor of Ohio had home-field advantage at the Cleveland debate, and he used it well. He nailed the conservative case for expansion of Medicaid eligibility and made a brave, eloquent statement in defense of gay marriage. He obviously did not drink the GOP hate Kool-Aid on this topic.
As he admitted, “I’m a different kind of Republican.” But what does that really mean? The senator from Kentucky reminded people that he stood up while trying (unsuccessfully) to stop U.S. cyberspying on Americans. But other than that, Paul couldn’t explain why his supposed uniqueness is good for America. He got lost in the shuffle for long stretches of time.
The U.S. Senator from Florida managed to sound thoughtful on the subject of immigration, not an easy feat in a 10-candidate debate, as well as on some of the economic challenges American workers face in the modern age. He excelled when discussing education with Jeb Bush, but wandered into uninformed territory when asserting that the Dodd Frank financial regulation act was “eviscerating” small businesses.
The businessman who claims to be worth $10 billion did not disappoint his target audience: He was confrontational, he was dismissive of a few other candidates and he was a motormouth on how the United States is led by “fools” and needs his leadership to be great again. Now, as to his plans for actually doing that, Trump revealed his political inexperience, providing little more than boilerplate stuff such as “build a wall” and “talk mean to world leaders.” Still, it’s likely this debate kept Trump on top of the GOP polls or near it for at least a little longer.
This debate was seen by many supporters of the Wisconsin governor as his big chance to overtake Bush and maybe even Trump as the GOP frontrunner. It didn’t happen. He fumbled for answers on topics including a tough question on why his job creation tactics had not worked as well as advertised in his states (shades of Gov. Sam Brownback in Kansas).