The main story for the night was anger and passion. Does this help or hurt the GOP’s prospects in November?
This post updates the one at American Thinker on Feb. 14, 2016.
Everyone seemed nervous, including the main moderator. His voice quavered. But the moderators were not the story, so we can move past them.
Everyone talked about Scalia’s passing and how important this election is. Two branches of government are at stake.
With that appropriate opening, let’s take them in alphabetical order.
He criticized Trump as having a wrongheaded foreign policy. Russia should not be an ally, and Assad should not remain in power. Bush does not get his foreign policy from TV, which Trump does.
Bush told Trump to stop attacking Bush’s elderly mother. Trump leveled the charge that George W. did not keep America safe; look at 9/11, after all. Bush shot back that while Trump was building a reality TV show, his brother was building a security apparatus that kept us safe.
He brought up Trump’s “McCain is a loser” comment. Trump denied it, but unconvincingly, because everyone knows he said it.
He went after Trump on eminent domain. Trump pointed out that George W. used it to build a stadium. Jeb said he disagreed with his brother; eminent domain is okay for public reasons, but not for private business.
His line of the night: Reagan said to tear down this wall, while Trump tears down other people.
His main point is that he’s an outsider, and these politicians should stop fighting and bickering. Just go to his website to get the details.
It would be beneficial for all in the race right now if he dropped.
Up to the first break, he seemed plain and ordinary, not inspiring.
On immigration, he says he led fight to defeat the Rubio / Schumer “amnesty” plan. Rubio shot back, saying Cruz changed his mind on immigration. Earlier in his career he was soft; now he’s talking rough (it’s the primaries, after all). Cruz replied that on Univision, Rubio gave a compromised position. Rubio said Cruz doesn’t speak Spanish, and Cruz showed that he does a little. However, if anyone can find the tape of Cruz giving an extended interview in Spanish, then post it. The gloves came off: Rubio called Cruz a liar two or three times, echoing Trump’s criticism of Cruz.
Cruz went on the attack against Trump as well, saying Trump is a good entertainer, but he’s not ready to be president (in essence). Trump also supported abortion and partial-birth abortion. Trump replied, angrily (paraphrased): You are such a liar! He will say anything. He’s a nasty guy! No wonder his colleagues in the Senate won’t endorse him!
Cruz accused Trump of supporting abortion and Planned Parenthood. Donald said (unwisely) in a GOP primary debate that Planned Parenthood is okay for some things but not for abortion.
Cruz also said Trump would support liberals for the SCOTUS vacancy. Trump got angry. Cruz supported Roberts, who affirmed Obamacare.
The main point: Cruz and Trump were the main attackers against each other. Did it help or hurt them? We shall see.
His main goal was to appear above the fray. He’s the adult in the room. Did he succeed? Partly. Bush criticized his Medicaid expansion, and Kasich fought back.
He honorably defended George W. Bush.
In his closing, he talked about what the Lord wants. He seemed to be channeling Isaiah the prophet, saying the Lord wants us to know we’re special and wants us connected. We need to take care of our neighbor. It’s what the Lord wants!
It felt strange for a presidential candidate to talk like that.
You can read his exchange with Cruz above. The main point: Cruz lies about immigration, and now he’s making things up.
He admirably defended George W. against Trump’s attacks. He thanked God it was Bush in the White House and not Al Gore. Plus, Saddam was in violation of about a dozen U.N. resolutions. Bush kept us safe. Trump repeated that the World Trade Center went down during Bush’s watch. Rubio pointed out that Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden – that’s the reason for 9/11.
He wisely showed the parallels between Carter and Obama. Contrast them with Reagan, who bubbled with optimism. Rubio was implying that he’s like Reagan.
He brought in the moral argument: wrong is considered right, and right is wrong nowadays, and our nation is in trouble.
The main image he projected tonight was anger, though he might call it passion.
When he got booed, he called those booing Jeb’s lobbyists and special interests.
We should never gone into Iraq in the first place. Now that we’re there (and we’re not in any degree now), we should go after the oil. We spent five trillion on Iraq, and we got nothing. Trump yelled. Should George W. be impeached? Trump angrily said they lied. They knew it!
Bush didn’t keep us safe! September 11 happened!
On executive orders, Trump doesn’t like what Obama is doing, so Trump would build a consensus with Congress. As for tariffs, he would get Congress to impose a high tariff on any company that left for Mexico.
As for reforming entitlements, we need to grow the economy. Let’s stop waste and fraud. Thousands of people over a hundred years old use Social Security, and there’s no way there are thousands of people over a hundred on it.
On eminent domain, his accusers are liars, but he did it to create jobs with the building he put up at expense of the working poor.
Bush went on the attack about bankruptcies. Trump pointed out that Bush was lying. To paraphrase Trump’s response: He uses the laws of the land; he runs a company. He never went bankrupt! Then he tried to turn the table on Jeb by pointing out that Florida crashed as soon as he got out. He was not a good governor. That state is Trump’s second home.
Jeb again replied with his strong record.
Trump seemed flustered, but he’s still got a strong personality that his supporters love.
Let’s wrap up this summary.
“Liar” and “lie” were thrown around often enough.
But was the GOP destroying itself last night? I say no. The back-and-forth felt cathartic, mainly because Rubio came back strong.
All the debaters are strong after nine debates (with the possible exception of Carson who remains steady. but not strong).
Rubio is the comeback kid; he went on the attack, but he was not as aggressive as Trump vs. Cruz vs. Bush. Jeb left Rubio alone (wisely).
Trump dominates with his aggression and anger.
Cruz showed the same debate skills, particularly when he went on the attack against Trump, and then the gloves came off.
Bush was strong, especially when he attacked Trump.
Who won? If anger and fluster are the yardstick, then Trump won.
If strength of language without all the anger that Trump showed is the criterion, then Rubio won, with a close second to either Cruz or Bush.
Bottom line: Rubio did what he had to do, so the laurels go to him.