The strategy of the night was Cruz’s and Rubio’s attack on Trump. Will it be enough?
The moderators’ questions were mixed. Grade: C minus.
Let’s take the candidates one at a time.
As usual, he’s meek and mild. He complained again about not getting enough time. Referring to Trump getting more, Carson said, “Would somebody please attack me?” That got a laugh. He didn’t refer to his website (as he did last time), and he did provide a few specifics, but he won’t win the nomination, so we can move on from him in this summary.
I wish he would move on out of the campaign. He’s distracting voters away from viable candidates and allowing, by (admittedly) only by a few thousand votes, Trump to maintain his lead.
He went on the attack many times against Trump and held back against Rubio, except a few swipes here and there.
He wants to deport illegals and not let them return. He was asked about the children. He didn’t give a clear answer. Still on the immigration issue, he attacked Trump for his funding the Gang of Eight. He’s funded the Establishment!
He attacked Rubio on immigration and says how great he (Cruz) is on ethanol, so he’s a consistent conservative. Rubio defended himself: we can’t yank it from the people of Iowa who invested in it just yet.
On the SCOTUS nomination, he attacked Trump on his donations to Dems, who nominated liberals.
On health care, he challenged Trump to give a yes-or-no answer about socialized medicine. Did Trump support it? Trump said no, as if single payer isn’t socialized medicine.
One line of attack on Hillary in the general election is the Clinton Foundation, yet Trump donated to it. Sixty-five percent of the GOP supporters say Trump is not the best one to oppose Hillary.
No wonder Harry Reid and Jimmy Carter like Trump. He’s malleable – i.e., inconsistent.
As Rubio did (see below), Cruz brought up Trump University. It’s in litigation in a fraud lawsuit.
Cruz pointed out that the MSM are treating Trump with kid gloves now, because they want Trump to win the nomination, but in the general election they will turn on Trump ferociously.
He said he has a strong record in Ohio, and he highlighted it. America needs an executive who got things done.
And then, sell them a cupcake! Can we trust you on religious liberty? Hewitt asked. Business people should conduct commerce and say a prayer for the customer. Religious institutions are inviolate. He appointed conservatives to the Ohio court system, including the Ohio Supreme Court.
It’s un-American to deny people coverage for pre-existing conditions. He’s running a successful health insurance plan in Ohio, and let’s use federal money.
Trump attacked him about striking oil, implying that Kasich got lucky; Ohio’s prosperity is not due to Kasich. The governor defended himself, citing some facts on Ohio’s diversified economy.
His attacks on Trump were forceful; he even mocked the frontrunner.
Of course, the tax returns came up. “You’re not a billionaire!” “Yes, I am!” “Show us your returns from the last few years!” Trump would be selling watches had he not inherited money.
Trump hired thousands of immigrants, so how can he talk about an immigration plan?
Trump had to pay a million-dollar fine.
Rubio attacked him on Planned Parenthood, and Trump said it does good things for millions of women, except abortions.
He challenged Trump to be specific on a health plan. That’s when Rubio mocked him and his repetition. “Now you’re repeating yourself! I saw you repeat yourself five seconds ago. Win, win, win! My numbers!”
On Israel, both Rubio and Cruz went on the attack. Rubio said that the two sides in the Middle East conflict are not equal. For one side, killing Jews is glorious thing. It’s not possible to make peace, so he would stand firmly with Israel without neutrality. Trump replied that neither Rubio nor Cruz is a negotiator, whereas he would do great things in the Middle East.
Rubio replied that Trump would negotiate only for condos in the Palestinian Territory.
In his closing, he said it is time for the GOP to get away from the silliness and lunacy and narrow down the field. The GOP needs to take the vote seriously, because the time is getting close, and we have got to have a nominee who can draw the most supporters.
He said he’s winning and drawing lots of people to the GOP. A moderator mentioned how Latinos supported Trump in Nevada, and he said he can do that all over the country, but the moderator then pointed out that the sample was insignificant. In a new poll, eighty percent of Hispanics say they don’t like him.
On Rubio’s attack about Trump’s hiring immigrant workers, he admitted to doing it in Florida, citing labor shortages during the peak season.
He wouldn’t get specific about how he would make Mexico pay for the wall. Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, said earlier today that he wouldn’t pay for that “f******” wall. Trump said the wall just got ten feet higher. He criticized Fox for using a filthy word – but Trump used it in his victory speech in Nevada.
Economy: How is he going to pay for the tax cuts? Grow the economy.
Health care? Get rid of the lines around the states. Rubio attacked him on that, to be specific. Again Rubio used mockery.
Even though he’s under audit (for twelve years!), he’ll release his tax paperwork. No problem. (We’ll see.)
He won’t stand with Israel unequivocally, because he needs to be a negotiator. Rubio said there is no negotiating with terrorists.
He’ll make Japan and South Korea pay their way, as we defend them. But Rubio brought up all the money they do pay. Trump said he would make them pay a lot more, but without specifics.
As for Hugh Hewitt, very few listen to his show. Have you seen the ratings?
Cruz took Trump’s money, but Rubio pointed out he never did.
In his closing, he said politicians are all talk and no action. Only he can make America great again.
Let’s wrap this up.
Rubio and Cruz did what they had to do: point out Trump’s inconsistencies and dealings.
This will not shake off Trump’s devoted followers, who seem to revel in his strong personality and irregularities.
But will the attacks pull his marginal followers and the undecided primary voters away from him?
I can’t imagine that the undecided voters will go his way in droves.
I believe Rubio would be best for the one-on-one, since Cruz is “very conservative” and comes across as very strident and severe, while the rest of the nation is not. (Rubio is still conservative and has an appealing image.)
Who won? Rubio and Cruz went on the attack. Trump brashly defended himself. On style, he kept up with them. In content, either Rubio or Cruz won.
That’s what I wrote the next day after the debate. Now, however, I believe Rubio won because he ridiculed the ridiculous candidate. It seems most people agreed he won.
This post appeared at American Thinker, Feb. 26, 2016.