While this should have been one of the more “important” Republican presidential debates as it’s the last one before the Iowa Caucus, it was hijacked by the infantile Donald Trump who decided to skip the event because Fox News wouldn’t cater to his ego and remove Megyn Kelly as moderator. So going into tonight, it was a bit of a mystery as to how everything would unfold. Would the candidates use this evening to take on Trump with him not there to defend himself? If I were a candidate, that would have been my focus. Because the truth is, they can slam President Obama, Hillary Clinton or even Bernie Sanders (who they barely mentioned and have completely written off) all they want – but if they can’t take down Trump, it’s not going to matter to any of them.
Though there was one thing that was an unquestioned certainty, even without Trump on stage – tonight was still going to be a circus… it would just be missing the head clown.
Let me start off by saying that this debate was awful. Not because Trump wasn’t there, but because it was the least substantive of any of the debates I’ve watched thus far. This wasn’t a “debate,” it was these candidates just spouting off talking points. An hour into it and I found myself zoning out a bit because these candidates weren’t saying… anything. I feel bad for the voters of Iowa if this was meant to be their last big look at the candidates before going to the polls.
Who won the debate? Well aside from all 3 Democratic candidates by default since they have actual ideas and solutions for our country, the Republican candidate who I would say “won” is Donald Trump. During a night when these candidates could have had an unopposed platform to tear him to shreds – they barely even mentioned him. In my opinion, that was a huge mistake. Aside from a few comments at the beginning of the debate, he was almost non-existent. That’s exactly what he needed tonight. Out of sight, out of mind, means Trump went almost entirely unscathed from tonight’s debate.
The loser? Undoubtedly Ted Cruz. This was his night to seize the spotlight from Trump as the only other viable candidate in the polls – and he failed miserably. Aside from a couple of good shots at Trump at the beginning, he looked weak and even saw several boos when Chris Wallace owned him after he tried to go off on his usual anti-media shtick but was soundly put in his place. He “lost” tonight because this was the night he had to stand out – and he didn’t. Iowa was there for him to seize, and I think he completely missed that opportunity.
Jeb Bud did decent. He looked more relaxed, seemed a bit more personable… but it’s not going to help him much. I really don’t see any sort of “path” for him to take that puts him in any position to remotely be relevant in this race. Like I’ve said before, if his last name wasn’t Bush I think he would have dropped out long ago.
Rand Paul was…Rand Paul. He’s a “soft on terror” libertarian with a very low ceiling. He’ll never stand a chance within the GOP unless he turns into a war-mongering candidate who wants to bomb everyone while simultaneously tapping all of their phones.
As for John Kasich and Chris Christie, if you supported them before, you support them now. These are really nothing more than “filler candidates” who aren’t awful, but stand no chance.
Then there’s Ben Carson. Once upon a time he was Trump’s biggest threat – now he’s basically a joke. I expect him to drop out after Iowa.
Marco Rubio didn’t have a great night, either. He got crushed on his “Gang of Eight” immigration bill and looked rattled most of the night. Some will probably say he looked “strong” tonight just because he got in a few jabs at Ted Cruz during what was easily Cruz’s worst debate. That’s fine, they can think that. It doesn’t change the fact that Rubio was generally awful (and unconstitutional) most of the night.
Let me just say how these debates show what a stark difference there is between liberals and conservatives. During Democratic debates you don’t hear audience members “booing” like children. But you frequently hear these conservative audiences booing questions or answers they deem unfair. It’s sad and pathetic. Then again, they booed a gay soldier and cheered letting a hypothetical man without insurance die in 2012, so nothing really surprises me anymore.
Well, another debate – another two+ hours where I watched simpletons spout off pointless talking points, lies and asinine rhetoric all for the sake of cheap applause lines, given to them by people who are easily manipulated by one-liners and fake bravado.
As I say at the end of all of these debate summaries, tonight was another moment that should remind all of us on the left why getting out to vote this November is so incredibly important. Why it’s vital that no matter who the nominee is, we all come together as one to make damn sure none of these Republican candidates become our next president. Because there’s just too much at stake for tens of millions of Americans to let that happen.
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