Overall, this was a very good and generally substantive debate. The three main frontrunners — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — had solid exchanges on topics such as immigration and defeating the Islamic State.
It would be great to see a debate with just those three on stage. The debate solidified them as the three most likely to win the GOP nomination.
Cruz and Rubio are easily the best debaters and their exchanges were genuinely interesting. It’s fascinating to watch them as they try to appeal to different bases with their party. But both men argue like U.S. Senators and that’s not very attractive to GOP voters in an anti-establishment year. Chris Christie did a good job pointing this out.
Trump was Trump once again. Jeb Bush and Rand Paul both went after him hard but neither won a single exchange. It’s highly unlikely that Trump will ever win a majority of GOP voters, but he did a masterful job being the only candidate to speak to his base. With the exception of an angry outburst at Bush, it might have been Trump’s best debate yet.
Once again, Trump was the winner. Cruz took some hits on how he would combat the Islamic State, but he was very strong. Rubio fell short in defending himself on immigration in exchanges with Cruz. Trump has shown he can afford to be less precise on his own positions and that didn’t hurt him tonight.
Of the other candidates, Bush, Christie and Paul had their best debate yet. Christie, in particular, may have bought himself more time and could be a real threat to Rubio as the establishment choice.
John Kasich and Carly Fiorina were forgettable and Ben Carson was often incomprehensible.
CNN did a much better job at moderating this debate than their previous one. The questions were fair, pointed and substantive.Save to Favorites