Last night was an interesting and fierce debate for the Republicans. With only one debate left before the Iowa Caucus, it was do or die for many of the candidates. Here are some of my thoughts on the debate:
Under Card- Carly Fiorina came away as the clear winner of the under card debate. Mrs. Fiorina took a lot of jabs at Hillary Clinton and even some at Donald Trump. The extended speaking time in the debate really allowed her to get her message out. As I talked about in a previous post, putting Mrs. Fiorina in the under card debate could have been a blessing in the sky for her, as it put the attention on her and the message that she had. Governor Huckabee and Senator Santorum both performed strong in the debate but did not stand out quite like Mrs. Fiorina. The criteria for the last debate has yet to be announced, but Mrs. Fiorina has showed that she deserves to be back at the big stage.
Cruz V Trump- It was only a matter of time before Trump and Cruz had to go after one another and that finally came ahead during the debate. In this head to head match-up, Cruz was the clear victor. Cruz was very prepared for the question regarding the validity of him (Cruz) running for president. Trump to his credit was very blunt about why he was even making it an issue, simply suggesting that Cruz’s rise in the polls made the issue interesting. The stage has now been set as both will go after one another as they fight over the same voting bloc (anti-establishment voters). This power struggle will continue to heat up and will make the last debate that much more interesting.
Rubio v Cruz- Reading a lot of the other news outlets last night and this morning, one of the forgotten highlights of the night was Cruz and Rubio going after one another. Rubio listed eleven different attacks against Senator Cruz. Senator Cruz scrambled to respond to all of the attacks but did not come away as the victor in this argument. Senator Rubio appeared almost as if he had been waiting for the right time to launch into his attack, to which he did in the closing moments of the debate. Senator Cruz who started the debate well had started to waiver after the Trump brush up over the “New York Republican” comment faltered here as well. Senator Cruz seemed a little caught off guard and gave a mild response to the allegations from Senator Rubio but clearly Rubio got the better of Cruz in this scuff up.
Bush- Governor Bush had a strong debate performance with good policy discussion and even came away looking presidential but with that said, Governor Bush seemed to not stay at the forefront of the debate. Had this not been a year in which so many candidates were vying for the nomination, Mr. Bush may have continued to be the front-runner but it seems that Mr. Bush now has become the second choice for the establishment candidate (behind Senator Rubio). The good news is that there is still three weeks till Iowa, one more debate before Iowa, and New Hampshire is shortly afterwards, so there is still time for Governor Bush to make up ground on the rest of the pack.
Carson- Dr. Carson the one time alternative to Donald Trump has seemed to fade away and he does not seem to be gaining any momentum. In this debate, Dr. Carson did well to respond to the questions asked by him of the moderators, but was much an after-thought for the entire debate. Dr. Carson had the least amount of speaking time of the seven candidates and stayed out of the fray for the most part. As I had previously talked about, staying out of the fray was a good thing for Dr. Carson, but the issue is that he did not really set himself apart from the other candidates or explain why he was better suited to serve as president. Dr. Carson needs to set himself apart from the rest of the field in the coming days and needs a standout debate performance in the last debate before Iowa to get back into the thick of things.
Here are who I think are the winners from the debate:
Fiorina- For her strong performance in the under card debate. This I think can help her campaign and keep her in this race.
Rubio- Senator Rubio had a great debate and really picked up some points when he went after Governor Christie as well as Senator Cruz. I would not be surprised to see Senator Rubio make some ground up on Senator Cruz in the Iowa Polls.
I think Donald Trump did more of the same in the debate. His performance did not help nor hurt his campaign. His voting Bloc seems to be pretty settled and so it will be hard to take voters from him. Mr. Trump did what he needed to do in this debate which was get out alive.
Senator Cruz started out the debate well but took some hits later on in the debate which could hurt him some. Mr. Cruz did not fare well with the “New York Republican” comment that keyed Trump with a prepared response (which got claps from all including Senator Cruz). Senator Cruz was also harmed the exchange with Senator Rubio. It will be interesting to see if this debate has an effect on his poll numbers whether for the good or bad.
The race has started to flare up. With less than three weeks to go before Iowa, this race is still wide open.