A quick analysis.
It updates and corrects the post at American Thinker.
The debate was much stronger for everyone – except perhaps for Trump.
The CNN moderators did not become the story, so that’s positive.
The main storyline is that they attacked each other appropriately in most cases, I believe, but they always brought the discussion back to Obama-Hillary. This circle back to the Dems was smart, very smart.
Now let’s take the candidates in alphabetical order.
Bush: He was much stronger than he was in last debate, not quite as meek, mild, and mousy. He went on the attack against Trump. “You’re never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.” “I won’t get my information from the shows. I don’t know if that’s Saturday morning or Sunday morning. I don’t know which one.” … “[I]f I’m president, I’ll be a commander-in-chief, not an agitator- in-chief or a divider-in-chief.” Trump seemed to be put off balance with those remarks. Jeb was strong on the terror threat. “We need to destroy ISIS.” Obama leads from behind, and this has created a vacuum – again back to Obama. As for immigration, he said the standard: secure borders, and Obama has not done anything because he wants to create a wedge issue. If Jeb (improbably) became the nominee, I would gladly vote for him. He mentioned his record in FL, which was a smart move.
Carson: He was at first befuddled (and pious), but then he got warmed up. He complained a little about his time to speak. That was out of place. His being coached about foreign policy improved things. He was very strong on defense. He wants Congress to declare war on ISIS, though usually they pass a resolution. We need to destroy the caliphate and cut off the supply lines. We need boots on the ground. Despite his strong rhetoric, his career preparation in a discussion about national defense and the war on terror is inadequate. I still can’t see him winning the nomination. He still comes across as nice but unqualified. His outsider experience hurts him.
I still say it’s not “Washington” or the “Big Bad Establishment” that are the problems; it’s one man in Washington who’s the problem: Obama. He’s the one who has gummed up the whole works. So being an outsider is a fake advantage, once voters think about it.
Christie: He deserved to be in the major debate. His main theme about himself was that he was a federal prosecutor who kept N.J. safe. He was an executive, unlike Cruz and Rubio, who spent too much time arguing between themselves, Christie believed, so he stepped in and talked about his executive experience, not about the details of a senate bill. How is that leadership? he was saying. His belief that he can win the nomination is strong, but he won’t win it. Other candidates take away his delegates.
Cruz: He still has his eyebrows tilted upwards, which make him seem pious in a bad way, and his high, tinny voice is a small idiosyncrasy that no one else has. But he is a strong debater. He took over the conversation many times and wouldn’t let the moderators shut him down. Did this help or hurt him? He seemed too aggressive, in my view. His explanation about his vote against the Defense Authorization bill – because it detained American citizens – will have to be fact-checked. Other things he said will have to be fact checked. He wants to carpet-bomb ISIS, but not the capital or major cities. That doesn’t make sense. He was called out for not criticizing Trump in public, though he did so in private. His explanation was lame: the people will vote during the primaries and decide. If Cruz can’t see that Trump won’t be the nominee but Cruz is playing all sides anyway, then this is not a profile in courage. Maybe regular people – not the pundits and political junkies – will see that we already got his home state (TX) in the electoral votes. We need other states, especially FL. It’s my belief that his unlikeable personality would lose against Hillary.
Fiorina: Articulate, as usual, but her CEO experience during a debate about defense and the war on terror seemed out of place. It’s clear to me at least that her outsider experience hurts her. But she did circle back around to Obama and Hillary. Nonetheless, it amazes me that a person who got kicked out of HP would run for the Senate in California (not in a conservative congressional House district), lose big (by double digits), move to Virginia (no ground game), and then run for president. Chutzpah. Maybe she wants a top spot in the gigantic bureaucracy. Ma’am, please drop out.
Kasich: He too was much stronger. Destroy ISIS with a coalition as we did in the First Gulf War. Punch Iran in the nose. In metadata collection, err on the side of too much, not too little. Solve the encryption problem. On the Bible issue, lead with the heart and head. Vetting problem with the Central American miners – Obama’s and vetting process’s fault. His close about Ohio and its economy was a good idea; we need Ohio. Maybe he’ll campaign with the nominee, because he won’t be. Unfortunately, his appearance and gestures and facial expressions seem distracting – and the selfie vote matters.
Paul: He’s a strong debater. I can see why he won the Kentucky Senate without a previous run for political office. But his semi-isolationism is out of touch. His attacks on Rubio and Trump were strong, but what’s the point? He’s out of touch with where America is on the war on terror – certainly he’s out of touch with the primary voters. “There is often variations of evil on both sides of the war.” Really? What did he mean by that? And WWIII with Russia? Turkey shot down a Russian plane, and Russia is too weak to start another world war with a third-rate country. Paul misreads the world. World history says it’s our turn to lead. Sir, please drop out.
Rubio: Strong, as usual. It’s my belief that he will be the nominee. He’ll do all right in Iowa and New Hampshire, and he’ll win Florida. And then Jeb will campaign for him. Immigration? If you’re a one-issue voter, and immigration is it for you, then you shuddered. However, we won’t deport 11 million people. Like it or not, at this time in our nation’s history, we need a native Spanish speaker – which Cruz is not, at least not fluently – to explain to millions why conservative politics is best. He stepped in and picked up Trump’s fumble about the triad. This quick mindedness and knowledge of the subject should persuade reasonable and discerning voters why he’s the best candidate for the nomination.
Trump: It’s clear to everyone but his devoted followers that he’s not qualified to be president. But “people like me.” Who says that as a grown up? He was an easy target for most of the candidates (except Cruz, notably). He rambles. Was it four trillion? Three trillion? He seems strong on defense, smashing ISIS, killing their families (wrong), but then we shouldn’t get involved in the Middle East, he says. He wishes he had the trillions to build roads and bridges – and no doubt the Great Big Wall. His ignorance about the triad of nuclear defense was laughable. He seemed to lose his temper, and he was rightly questioned about his temperament. He won’t win the nomination, but he will create confusion. At least he said he won’t go independent. But he has no personal guardrails, so who knows? His closing statement about America being behind in every area doesn’t inspire confidence.
It’s been observed many times that our candidates are infinitely more qualified than Hillary. That’s true (except for Trump). All we need now is for candidates to drop out – I’m looking at you, Paul, Fiorina, and Carson; and for minimal confusion in November 2016, Trump needs to bow out, but he won’t. Too much TV ego, and the (unreliable) polls put him in the lead.
So who was the winner? There was no clear winner. It was a four-way tie (in alphabetical order): Bush – Christie – Cruz – Rubio.
Dec. 18, 2015.
December 23, 2015.