I watched the debate with my college students.
Who was the big winner?
Let’s take them in alphabetical order.
Bush: he didn’t help himself. He went on the attack against Rubio’s voting record. Rubio counter-attacked effectively. Bush was flustered. It’s a pity. His experience and record in FL are pretty strong–strong enough, anyway. Is he finished? I think he’ll stay in until FL primaries. He’s got the money for it. Or if he sees he will definitely lose FL, he’ll save face, drop out, and endorse Rubio.
Carson: He doesn’t have command of the issues as much as I personally would like. That’s because he’s been a surgeon all his adult life, not a businessman / -person like Fiorina or a Washington insider who has to work on the nuts-and-bolts of the issues, like budgets. And he hasn’t been a governor. He will probably win Iowa because of his piety, but he won’t last long after that.
Christie: he helped himself. His prosecutorial skills shone. He’s very comfortable on camera, very confident. He rightly attacked the media. He said in a New Jersey way that he wouldn’t let Hillary come near the White House. Was it humorous? Of course. But I cracked wise. “He’ll kick her ___!” as if he’s a good fella. The class laughed. He would make a fine attorney general.
Cruz: I admit to a bias up front. I don’t like his messianic style. He Stands Alone for a Just Cause. He cocks his eyebrows upwards (much like Obama does) and has a pious tone of voice. He doesn’t get along well with his colleagues, and in the daily grind of governing, grownups must be able to build coalitions. He isn’t capable of it. However, he helped himself among the base. He rightly attacked the media. His skill as an attorney general and his intelligence keep him afloat. But in the generals against Hillary he would lose big. He would turn off too many Selfie Voters. Too hyper-conservative, and hyper-conservatives or WHINOs (White House In Name Only) misread the public today.
Fiorina: she is skilled. The hostile MSM must learn not to question her history at HP. She answers so well that they look foolish. But outsiders have an uphill climb, in the long run–sorry, if you’re an outsider kind of voter. Her numbers are down, if the polls mean anything. I can’t see how the debate will raise and sustain them. She won’t last long.
Huckabee: he’s been at this so long that he always gives a strong debate performance. He’s very comfortable in himself. He has a twinkle in his eyes as he cracks wise. But where can he go? From whom can he siphon off votes? Cruz? Carson? Rubio? Not likely. He needs to drop out, but he won’t until after Iowa. Perennial campaigner. Likes the attention.
Kasich: he has a strong enough record in OH, and that’s a key state. He was aggressive this time. But it wasn’t enough. His attack on the GOP tax and budget plans, such as they are, seemed off key. Appearances in our shallow Selfie world are important, and his eyes look like he daily spends too much time in an over-chlorinated pool. He seems a bit disjointed and awkward–the opposite of cool and collected. He won’t go very far now. Too bad. We need his state. However, maybe he can campaign there with the nominee.
Mainstream Media: They’re no candidate, but they inject themselves in the debate, so why not list them among the field? Big losers, but this made the candidates shine before the primary voters. Cliche: Light is brightest with a dark background. I think–or I hope– even my students could see the bias. RNC party chair Reince Preibus was right to criticize the MSM afterwards.
Paul: please drop out. Do I need to mention the hair piece in today’s Selfie world? (That’s seems to be an unplanned theme of this post.) He’s just as pious (in the wrong sense) as Cruz, but without all the pious family background (in the good sense) that Cruz has. Did he just promise to filibuster the budget deal? Paul, go home.
Rubio: he was the big winner. He’s been apparently biding his time in the wings during the campaign, and he’s always strong in public speaking. When you keep a low-profile before the big event, the big event works in your favor. His youthful appearance and knowledge and quick mind impress the Selfie voter. His counter-attack against his mentor Bush was tactfully done, in a pleading, not angry way. Paraphrase: “someone told you to attack me because we’re running for the same job.” His comment about the MSM being a super-PAC for Hillary was great (and the other candidates who went after the MSM did well too).
Trump: It’s no secret to anyone who reads this website that I’m no fan of Trump. But this time his old age slowed him down, which improved his debate performance. He came across as a tad, a little, a teensy-weensy bit saner, but the wall business again? Give it up. And Kasich was right to go after him for his loony plan to deport 11 million people. Because of his money, he’ll stay in until the end and cause election trouble. But the debate didn’t help or hurt him, though in a just world it should have hurt him. Again with the wall.
The students didn’t comment much–probably because they’re used to Trump’s outlandishness, much like they’re used to crazy Grandpa at Thanksgiving. They largely ignored him (though in the second debate they laughed at him).
I wish Graham could get into the frontrunner debate–not that he would win the nomination. But his knowledge and wit and intelligence about foreign affairs would make the entire GOP shine, though he’s very hawkish–a hawk on steroids, in fact.
My prediction: Rubio will likely be the nominee. And Rubio will beat Hillary. The Selfie Voters matter, though they’re not the only bloc that will carry him through to the White House.
But we will still see election chaos in June or Nov. 2016–or both (thanks Trump).
Nov. 5, 2015