I wanted to write a “winners/losers” post. That was my initial intention. But I didn’t come away from tonight’s debate thinking one candidate beat up on another. I didn’t end up caring about winners or losers.
Instead, I enjoyed the first serious, substantive debate on foreign policy of the 2016 election cycle. It was needed. It was critical. And it set the stage for major policy distinctions between the eventual Republican nominee and Hillary Clinton in the general election.
We have a real challenge ahead of us in the war on radical Islamic terrorism. How exactly will we wage that war? How will we defend our borders? How will we protect our civilians from domestic terror?
And how will we prosecute the war on terror overseas? Will we topple regimes and nation build? Will we arm rebel fighters who could one day turn those weapons against us?
These are all serious questions. Critical questions. Questions that will have an incredible impact on the future of the free world. Questions that I personally don’t know how to answer.
But tonight we heard serious answers to those questions. Serious policy proposals. Serious discussions.
And we heard a lot from three serious candidates: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.
All three had great performances tonight. All three showed poise and conviction. And all three were able to demonstrate significant foreign policy differences from each other.
It’s still December. It’s early. There’s a lot of time left. But I’m looking forward to hearing more from these three contenders.
As for the rest of the field? It’s time to consolidate and get real. If you’re at one percent in the polls, the voters clearly aren’t that interested in hearing you interrupt a serious back-and-forth between contenders like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — I’m looking at you, Carly Fiorina and John Kasich.
It’s time for the remaining candidates who have failed to catch on with the voters to start dropping out. This is too important of an election to let ego get in the way. Voters are ready for the real debate, and they’re ready for the real candidates. Let’s get to it.
Jon Schweppe is Deputy Director of Communications for the American Principles Project.