Here are the winners and losers from the ABC News Republican presidential debate.
Winners and Losers:
1).Chris Christie- Christie was a one-man wrecking crew who was on a mission to destroy Marco Rubio. Christie came out aggressive. He played up his economic experience, and his complete destruction of Rubio was blunt, hard, and Rubio never knew what hit him. For Christie, it is New Hampshire or bust. Gov. Christie was the only candidate on the stage who fought like his life depended on it. The primary within the New Hampshire primary is between Christie, Bush, Rubio, and Kasich. This was easily Christie’s best debate performance of the year.
2). Donald Trump- With the exception of one scrap with Jeb Bush, Trump was able to skate through the scrum. Trump might have helped himself with Republican primary voters by telling the folks at home that the debate audience was made up of big money donors. Trump made it clear that he doesn’t want or need their money. Trump went back to selling winning, and if he wins on Tuesday, it is easy to see the Trump train getting on a roll.
1). Ted Cruz- Cruz followed up his win in Iowa with a lousy debate performance in New Hampshire. Cruz got it from all sides. Trump went after him, and even Ben Carson called him out for lying. Cruz might have peaked in Iowa, and he looks like a struggling candidate. If Cruz doesn’t get it together fast, his campaign could be in some serious trouble.
2). Marco Rubio- This was a terrible debate for Rubio. The Senator from Florida came into the debate with momentum, and he ran into a buzzsaw named Chris Christie. Rubio keeps trying to sell himself as some sort of foreign policy expert when he has zero foreign policy experience. Part of Rubio’s problem is that he is heavily programmed and boring. Rubio was rattled after Christie wiped the floor with him, and the rest of his debate was full of long winded and frankly dull verbal dancing.
Rubio’s new talking point is that Obama has intentionally tried to change America and make it more like the rest of the world. Rubio is promising that to reverse all of the changes. It was a bad night for Rubio that might have brought his momentum to a screeching halt.
3). Ben Carson- Carson was largely invisible. He was a minor player in the debate. With the exception of taking out Ted Cruz for trying to throw CNN under the bus, the rest of Carson’s appearances were marked by the candidate pointing out that he wasn’t getting time to talk. Ben Carson’s campaign is pretty much dead. It is only a matter of time until Dr. Carson takes his hammer and hits the road.
4). John Kasich- Of the four establishment candidates who are vying for momentum, Kasich had the second worst night behind Rubio. Kasich was mostly not heard from during the debate with the exception of complaining about the negative tone. Kasich tried to push positivity, but in a race dominated by the negative, this could be a tough sell. Unless he gets a New Hampshire miracle, John Kasich looks like a candidate who is on borrowed time.
5).Jeb Bush- Bush was better, but mostly the same flat candidate that he has been all through this campaign. Bush was able to bloody Trump a bit, but his effective attack came months too late. Jeb Bush is another candidate who needs a New Hampshire miracle.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and 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