Drunkblogging Tonight's GOP Debate, Special Game of Thrones Edition


Above photo taken during happier days for Jeb: Rubio holds a sword presented to him by then-Gov. Jeb Bush, during ceremonies designating Rubio as the next Speaker of the Florida House, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2005. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

I was going to write a fancy introduction to tonight's Main Event drunkblog, but then I realized that Guy Benson and I, without meaning to, had already done so on Twitter.

The only real excitement tonight is: Can Jeb! reassure his money people that he can climb out of single digits before March?

All indications are no, especially given that he telegraphs his every punch -- and then pulls his punches.

Stay tuned.

At the end of this, I'm looking back and thinking I was too harsh on the moderators -- but they could have been better.

Tonight, in fact, would have been much improved with just two changes.

First, the Kiddie Table should have had eight candidates, and you can sort out which eight in the comments. I look forward to reading those.

Second, the panels should have been switched. The first set of panelists took their duty to take a backseat to the debating candidates more seriously than Neil Cavuto's panelists did. The Kiddie Table Debate was focused on tonight's issue in a way the Main Event simply wasn't.

Don't get me wrong, tonight wasn't a disaster like CNBC put on two weeks ago. But it could have been so much better. And the first half, the half which ironically enough didn't even matter, was so much better.

On now to the horse race aspects.

Jeb! didn't lay a glove on anybody, and nobody laid a glove on Trump or Carson.

The two top contenders then remain the two top contenders, and the winner of the Money Primary, Jeb!, remains the also-ran in single digits. Whatever you or I may think of Bush, the stubborn fact remains that he didn't win any votes tonight and he desperately needed to. If there's anything worse than telegraphing your punch, it's telegraphing your punch -- and then pulling it. That's what Jeb! did tonight.

Cruz played to his base, as did Paul. Fiorina is very strong in second gear, but it seems like her only gear. Kasich proved again, and this time I think the audience finally noticed, that he's a right-wing progressive and out of tune with the GOP.

Rubio addressed America directly more than he debated his fellow candidates. It remains to be seen -- and he's stuck in most state polls in third or fourth place -- whether that's a winning stratagem.

Anyway, that's how I see it tonight. Maybe a lousy night's sleep and a prescription-strength Ibuprofen will provide more clarity in the morning.

OK, on to the wrap...

Bush pledges "revamping, fixing" to a grassroots looking for global thermonuclear war on DC.

Closing statements...

Stand by.

Final break. I think.

We all need this, don't we?

Paul is hinting here, but only hinting at something which could be a powerful theme for the GOP next year: the devastation of the Democrats at the state and local levels.

Pound that, remind people they rejected local Democrats for a reason, and to take that protest national.

There is no Maria, only Zuul.

Can we get a fact check on Trump's claim that corporate inversions have cost $2.5 trillion?

Maria Bartiromo pushing Hillary's resume and daring GOP candidates to explain why they'd be better when she's been "so much closer" to the Oval Office.

I realize question is essentially an easy lob, but the setup got her booed -- as well it should have.

It's not often I get to tell Jon Gabriel that I am so far out ahead of him...