Here are the winners and losers from the Fox News/Google Republican presidential debate.
Winners and Losers:
1). Ted Cruz – Without Trump on stage, Cruz was the top candidate, and he had the market cornered on the outsider vote. Cruz was targeted by each of the establishment candidates who are running to be the alternative to Cruz and Trump. Cruz and Rubio were the two best debaters on the stage, but Cruz knew how to throw the red meat that Republican primary voters crave better than anyone else on the stage.
This debate was a big night for Cruz. Without Trump around he was able to stand at the center of the stage and gobble up attention that he would have normally had to fight for. Cruz was a big winner tonight.
2). Marco Rubio- Rubio knows how to talk to the evangelical voting bloc in the Republican Party. Rubio knows how to get off a good one-liner. Rubio had a great debate because Donald Trump wasn’t there. Sen. Rubio did nothing to show that he is the same class as Cruz and Trump, but there is a reason he was a target of both Bush and Cruz. Rubio is the candidate that other campaigns view as the biggest threat to capture establishment Republican voters. Sen. Rubio does a lot of things well, but lacks charisma and would struggle mightily in a general election. Rubio isn’t exciting, and in a year where excitement is winning the Republican primary, it is easy to see why Rubio is the third or fourth choice of many Republicans.
3). Jeb Bush- It’s alive! Without Donald Trump to get under his skin and unnerve him, Bush had a good debate. The brother of W. is more comfortable talking about policy than trading barbs and insults. Jeb had a good debate by his standards. He wasn’t comatose. He discussed the issues with clarity and confidence that was lacking in previous debates. Bush had his best debate, but it is probably too little too late for a campaign that experts believe is dead in the water.
1). Ben Carson- Carson was largely absent at this debate. He has gone from being an Iowa frontrunner to an afterthought. Ben Carson’s campaign has fallen apart, and instead of fighting for voters, Carson stood on stage and was largely invisible. It is all over for Carson.
2). Chris Christie- Is Chris Christie an experienced insider who can get things done? He thinks so. Is Chris Christie a Washington outsider with executive experience? He thinks so. In a year where political experience is a bad thing within the Republican primary, Chris Christie doesn’t fit into this primary. He is trying to play both insider and outsider, and failing at both.
3). Rand Paul- Poor Rand. He got back on the main debate stage, and one of the first questions he was asked is why do all the people who should be supporting you seem to be supporting Ted Cruz? Sen. Paul is the consistent square peg in the Republican round hole. He has never caught fire this year, and he is another low-polling candidate with no money, no support, and no time to turn it around.
4). John Kasich- Kasich is too moderate for this Republican Party. He actually suggested treating the drug addicted instead of throwing them into prison. Kasich needs a New Hampshire miracle. What is clear is that the Republican Party would love to see Kasich on the Republican ticket in 2016. The problem is that there is no way that Donald Trump or Ted Cruz would ever pick him as their running mate. Kasich is a throwback to another time in the Republican Party, and that time is not 2016.
5). Donald Trump – Trump’s decision to hold his own rally disguised as a fundraiser for vets was a big mistake. Instead of obsessing over Trump, the debate moved forward without him. It didn’t seem like any great loss that Trump wasn’t there. The debate was less entertaining but more focused on the issues that matter to Republicans. The worst outcome for Trump came true during the Fox News debate. The Republican candidates mostly ignored him, but the world didn’t stop spinning, and the race for the nomination moved on.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor, who is White House Press Pool, and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association