It’s ironic that I wrote about the need for a chill pill yesterday because seemingly every candidate on the stage of last night’s Republican debate was in serious need of one. The candidates and moderators yelled at each other. Jim Cramer and John Kasich yelled at everybody. Ted Cruz was especially angry at “liberal agenda” -whatever the heck that is – questioning. Jeb Bush offered to plant a “warm kiss” on a Democrat. All in all, it was a rather strange two hours.
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz stood out from the rest of the field. Rubio only continues to reaffirm my belief that he will ultimately win the nomination. I just cannot allow myself to believe that Trump or Carson could actually win and, to me, Rubio is far and away the best option for the GOP to challenge Hillary. Rubio had a lot of tough questions thrown at him last night that would have rattled most of the candidates. Instead, he kept his poise and turned the questions around on the questioner. He was a total professional and his performance proved he is a force to be reckoned with.
Rubio eloquently blamed liberal media bias when asked about why he had missed so many Senate votes and why a Florida paper called from him to resign his seat. Jeb Bush made a sad attempt to win points by joining in this challenge to Rubio’s poor attendance record, but Rubio crushed him.
Rubio also got a question about his own financial difficulties which is a fastball right over the middle of the plate for him these days. He confidently said that his money troubles proved that he misunderstood the troubles of everyday Americans in today’s economy. “And I make a lot more than the average American. Imagine how hard it is for people making $50, $60,000 a year,” he said.
As for Ted Cruz, his debating talent cannot be questioned. Like I said on Twitter last night, he is bat sh*t insane but he’s very good at these debates. Cruz offered the most specific economic policies of any candidate. These suggested policies included partially privatizing Social Security, auditing the Federal Reserve, abolishing the IRS, and bizarrely suggesting a return to the gold standard – which hasn’t been brought up much since the 19th century. Again, bat sh*t crazy. He also made a pot joke and it was awesome. I can’t help but enjoy him.
Carly Fiorina’s performance was a far cry from the first two debates. She suggested that she would be capable of cutting the tax code down to three pages (it is currently around 70,000 pages). I didn’t say Cruz was the only crazy person on stage. She attacked Hillary – saying she was Clinton’s worst nightmare (she’s delusional too!) – and defended her terrible HP record – she blames it on politics (she was fired).
Ben Carson stuck to his usual debate strategy by trying to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible – which is working for him. When you’re surrounded by that much crazy, it’s best to be the quiet guy. Carson’s biggest weakness has been discussing policy and that held true again. When challenged on the fact that his plan would create humongous deficits, he insisted that it wouldn’t because growth would replace it – this doesn’t jive with any credible analysis. He was also forced to side step a question about his relationship with Mannatech – a questionable supplement company which claimed its products could cure autism and cancer. He took the easy Republican way out – by blaming it on a “liberal attack.” Yes, doctor. It was certainly liberals who forced you to have a 10-year relationship with this company before anyone knew you would run for president. In fact, the Mannatech story was actually broken by the conservative National Review.
The Donald’s act continues to lose steam and last night didn’t help him. He denied he’d criticized H1B visas only to be informed that the quote was taken from his own website. He did his best to scream about border control – which took him to the top of the polls but is getting old now. And he also gave an incredibly liberal opinion on campaign finance. “Super PACs are a disaster, they’re a scam, they cause dishonesty, and we’ve got to get rid of them.”
Finally, Jeb Bush was hilariously terrible. The Bush pow wow in Houston last week advised Jeb that he needed to attack Rubio – a strategy that completely backfired last night. His only real attack on Rubio was handily shut down early, and he never tried again. He really sucks at this campaigning thing. While Huckabee, Christie, and Paul lashed out at moderators for not giving them more questions, Bush didn’t raise any objection.
He did land the most memorable line of the night – by being really creepy. When asked whether he’d accept a deal that offered $10 in spending cuts for $1 of tax increases, he replied: “You find me a Democrat for cutting spending $10, I’ll give ’em a warm kiss.”
. . . . . ummmmmm . . . . .
This man will not be president. Many experts opined that a weak performance from Jeb would be the last nail in the coffin to his campaign. He better hope they were wrong – because he was just as bad as usual.
If the Republicans want to stand a chance next November, they better start getting behind Marco Rubio. He is the only one of these candidates that would make Hillary sweat.