Finally, it happened. Voters got to see what the Republican field is like without constantly being pitted against a variety of Trumpnanigans.
The moderators handled things fairly well, and I have often been critical of FNC’s handling of Republican debates in the past, long before Donald Trump was complaining about them. There was one awful Bridgegate question for Chris Christie, but it was an otherwise decent night for them. The Google questioners seemed to have been coached by George Stephanopoulos, however.
Many thought that Trump’s absence would give Ted Cruz a real chance to shine, but it was Rand Paul who seemed to be most liberated by it. Maybe he was just refreshed from sitting the last debate out, but he seemed like a different person. When Trump’s around, Paul has a difficult time hiding his disdain for him and that crankiness has severely hampered him in the other events. He and Christie were the least forced of the group.
Marco Rubio continues to impress with his preparedness for seemingly anything they want to throw at him. Sadly, some whiz kid adviser got in his ear before the previous debate and told him he needed to seem angrier and more animated. Since then, it’s been like watching a toddler who just went swimming in sugar and got dropped off at Disneyland. “Breathless” doesn’t quite cover it. Should he decide to leave politics, he is now fully qualified to be an auctioneer.
It has been pretty well established that I am a fan of Ted Cruz but I have to be honest and say he didn’t have a great night. He spent the last couple of days trying to capitalize on Trump’s wimp-out for fundraising purposes and let that carry over into the debate when he would have done well to have not mentioned The Donald at all. One joke about leaving the stage if asked a mean question that obviously went over well in debate prep hit the audience like a bout of stomach flu. Cruz also has to stop introducing three more points after the second timer alarm has sounded. Many hardcore Cruz supporters have agreed with me on this.
Many have praised Jeb Bush’s performance tonight, but I am still amazed at how unprepared he always seems to be even though this is presumably all he’s been preparing for for years. Every time he makes a dig at Rubio he trips over it even though it is obvious that it’s the line he rehearsed the most during the preparation.
John Kasich. Just no.
As for Dr. Carson, Moe Lane at Red State sums it up pretty well.
If I ever want to watch a politician eviscerate a questioner, Christie is my man. The GOP needs a northeastern moderate like it needs a Donald Trump right now though, so, as they say on “Shark Tank” — I’m out.
It’s too early to know what the television ratings were for the debate, but the #GOPDebate hashtag did dominate Twitter trending.
The Trump people will obviously say that their Dear Leader’s absence ruined the debate. For many, however, this was the kind of debate Republicans envisioned when we knew we had a deep bench and were going to have a big field. It didn’t disappoint.
It also didn’t thrill, but in this election season, that’s not really a bad thing.