Here are the winners and losers from the CNN Republican debate in Texas.
Winners and Losers From The CNN Republican Debate:
1).Donald Trump – Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio came after Donald Trump, but the leader of the Republican primary said nothing that is likely to hurt him with voters. Trump was able to skate through the CNN debate because the Marco Rubio campaign miscalculated by deciding to attack Trump on his previous statements and his record. Ted Cruz had more success attacking Trump, but Cruz’s constituency within the Republican Party is so small that the two candidates aren’t on a level playing field.
Trump knows how to deliver the red meat that GOP primary voters love better than any other candidate on the debate stage. The candidates who want to talk about facts are speaking a foreign language in this Republican primary. The structure, or lack of, in the CNN debate, was proof that the Republican primary is being contested on Donald Trump’s terms. As long as the GOP remains Trump’s world, he will continue to lead the Republican pack.
2). Ted Cruz – Cruz’s best moment came when Trump asked for an apology for the attacks on his sister, and Cruz said that he will not apologize for defending the Constitution. Where Rubio’s attacks fell flat, Cruz had a different strategy. Cruz was making the emotional argument to voters that Donald Trump is too liberal, and that Republicans can’t trust him. Cruz was able to legalistically interrogate Trump on healthcare and get Trump to dodge his questions. Ted Cruz scored a body blow by going after Trump on the Trump University case and pointing out that Trump could be testifying in court after he wins the Republican nomination. Cruz’s message that Republicans will be in a poor position to win in November if they nominate Trump.
1). Marco Rubio – Marco Rubio’s big plan of attack against Trump was to point out that the Republican frontrunner doesn’t have specific plans, and that he has made inconsistent statements in the past. Rubio had a highlight when he caught Trump repeating himself and called him out on it, but Rubio’s line of attack against Trump was conventional, logical, and a complete failure.
The Republican establishment will be spinning the debate as a great win for Rubio, but anyone who views Sen. Rubio as a strong candidate who can take out Trump is viewing the Republican race through desperation colored glasses. Rubio’s attacks won’t sway Republican primary voters. Marco Rubio plays well within the Republican Party establishment and the media, but his inability to match Trump on an emotional level is why he has not won a single primary or caucus.
2). John Kasich – The debate was largely centered around Rubio, Trump, and Cruz. John Kasich was largely ignored and couldn’t elbow his way into the discussion. Kasich is under tremendous pressure from the Republican establishment to quit the race, and he did nothing in this debate to demonstrate that his campaign should continue. Kasich is leading in his home state of Ohio, and in second place in Massachusetts, so it would not be surprising if he stayed in the contest long enough to win the Buckeye State.
Kasich was irrelevant in this debate, but that doesn’t mean that he is ending his campaign anytime soon.
3). Ben Carson – Why is Ben Carson still here? He doesn’t have an ideological cause that he has staked out. Carson got very little time to talk, and the time that he had was spent on generic answers. His big plan on healthcare was catastrophic insurance coverage and health savings accounts. Carson brought up his usual grumble that he doesn’t get time to talk, but there is a reason for that. Ben Carson is an also-ran who should drop out of the Republican race.
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