The third Republican presidential debate was a total, unruly mess. The CNBC moderators were mostly unprepared, asked terrible questions and lost control of the debate from the opening minutes. It was an embarrassment.
That said, dealing with stupid questions is a job requirement of the president.
The winners of the debate were Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Both senators were ready and used the format to their advantage. Rubio had plenty of opportunities to show off his political skills and regularly turned questions to his advantage. Cruz took issue with the bad questions and turned his fire against the media — always an effective strategy in a GOP debate.
The big loser was Jeb Bush. After a failed attack on Rubio’s missed votes in the U.S. Senate, he looked like a defeated man. He’s surely intelligent but he has an amazing ability to choose the wrong words. He needed a better performance to show he was worthy of his donors and didn’t deliver. To paraphrase Pulp Fiction: “Jeb’s dead, baby. Jeb’s dead.”
Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie also had a good night. Both have sharp political skills but haven’t put them to together in package that rises to the top of the field. They might start angling to be someone’s running mate.
Donald Trump and Ben Carson proved that as these debates go on, neither is comfortable dealing with the details of public policy. Carson’s response to a question about his tax policy was unintelligible, though he did come back with an effective response to a terrible question about his service on corporate boards. In a question on H1B visas, Trump proved he doesn’t even know what’s on his own website. Nonetheless, they’re both still very interesting to watch.
John Kasich tried to shine a light on the policy inconsistencies of his rivals but he’s become the Jon Huntsman of this cycle. It’s not clear the GOP electorate cares much.
Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee are just forgettable and probably shouldn’t be invited to the next debate.Save to Favorites