I wanted to share some quick thoughts about each of the candidates who participated in the last Republican debate before the New Hampshire Primary.
First I wasn’t a fan of the moderation. It seemed like Martha Raddatz in particular wanted to debate the candidates. Secondly, what in the world was with the introductions? How do you mess that up?
On to the candidates…
Donald Trump – Trump didn’t actually have a bad debate. The subject of eminent domain I believe is one that will hurt him with undecided voters. “Eminent domain is great” isn’t exactly a message that people want to hear, but it shouldn’t impact him with his supporters. Beyond that he avoided the attacks we’ve seen in other debates. Trump’s point about how the audience was stacked was an interesting one. The RNC needs to explain the ticketing process for debates because there does appear to be some inequality among candidates. The Cruz campaign experienced that with the last debate in Iowa.
Ted Cruz – I thought he handled the exchange with Carson which was civil about as well as one could. Since he’s not the front runner in New Hampshire he avoided the exchanges he encountered in the last debate. It was a safe debate. The exchange with Martha Raddatz over launching a preemptive strike against North Korea I thought he handled well. Over all a good debate.
Marco Rubio – The first half of the debate was awful. Chris Christie handed his head to him on a couple of exchanges. The second half of the debate much improved. His answer on abortion was excellent. His answer about women registering for selective service was not.
Ben Carson – Zzzzzzzzzzzzz… Seriously. Debating is not his strong suit and he doesn’t inspire confidence in his ability to be Commander-in-Chief. His best answer was the discussion on dealing with biological threats like Ebola.
Chris Christie – He got the better of the exchanges with Rubio, but he seems to think the fact he has executive experience should somehow be a shield from criticism about his actual record. Also the executive experience argument is one that has fallen flat this cycle and I don’t think it’ll help him in New Hampshire. His answer on abortion was awful, likening allowing rape victims to have abortions as an act of self defense? Wow. He also brought up not discriminating against women in regards to registering for selective services – he realizes that men are compelled to do that right?
Jeb Bush – He tried. He’s just not a good attack dog and Trump swatted him away. He too answered poorly on abortion and selective service. He said nothing remarkable.
John Kasich – Not a fan, but I think Kasich defended his record as Governor of Ohio effectively. He gave a solid, albeit unremarkable, debate performance which coupled with Rubio’s poor performance could make a difference when New Hampshire goes to the polls on Wednesday.