I think Cruz did the best, Rubio did well enough to take second place, and Fiorina was much improved, especially on foreign policy, where she gave a clear explanation of the doctrine of peace through strength. She did third best, but had the strongest moment of the debate when she schooled everyone on foreign policy. She really knows foreign policy cold.
Red State does a good job of providing unbiased opinion, here is their assessment:
1. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) – While Cruz hit his talking points and made some great statements, like Jeb, he did not stand out. This isn’t as big a problem for him as it is the others, because he has a natural base of conservative voters that will turn out for him no matter what. Bush doesn’t have that, and that’s why he’s free-falling at his point. Cruz coming out swinging against the agriculture lobby could very well be his testing the water for corn subsidy talk in Iowa.
2. Carly Fiorina – Carly showed why she should not be counted out yet. She speaks like a caring grandmother, and she has to be the calmest neoconservative I’ve ever seen on a stage speaking about the Middle East. She spoke calmly and coolly on every issue that came her way, and some issues that didn’t. She cannot yet be counted out.
3. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – Rubio did not hurt himself tonight by any stretch of the imagination. He let Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ruffle his feathers a little bit, but I think he overall hit his notes correctly. He is clearly courting the warhawks of the Republican Party right now. He hit on his family background only once, focusing instead on global affairs and fighting back against Paul.
They thought Carson and Trump did OK, and Kasich, Paul and Bush “lost”. I think that Carson and Paul did OK, but Trump and Bush underperformed, and Kasich did the worst of all. Trump just has no ability in foreign policy, Bush is too liberal on immigration. Kasich is a big government liberal across the board.
Over at the more establishment Weekly Standard, Jonathan Last – who is a bit wild – said this:
Ted Cruz: If you were forced to pick a winner, it would probably be Cruz. He picked the right fights—with Kasich and Paul. He gave a dynamite explanation of how illegal immigration impacts wage growth and was generally impressive. With each passing debate he looks more like a finalist.
Marco Rubio: This performance wasn’t as strong as his last. Rubio started out talking vocational training and the nexus of family stability, virtue, and economic growth—basically the Santorum 2012 playbook.
Carly Fiorina: She probably had the single strongest moment of the night in her blistering, detailed, canny riff on how she would approach Putin. If she’s going to get a third-look from voters, tonight might prompt it.
Ted Cruz attacks Hillary Clinton’s failed policies:
Ted Cruz says no to bank bailouts, yes to FDIC reimbursing depositors:
Jeb Bush vs Ted Cruz on illegal immigration and LEGAL immigration:
Marco Rubio on the importance of strong families:
Marco Rubio vs Rand Paul on tax credits for families and defense spending:
Carly Fiorina on Putin and foreign policy:
Carly Fiorina on American entrepreneurship:
Ben Carson on the minimum wage:
Finally, there is the latest episode of the Weekly Standard podcast, which is my favorite political podcast, the one you should subscribe to if you subscribe to any. Bill Kristol, the editor of the Weekly Standard, thought that it was a good night for Ted Cruz. I agree.
I also love the Ben Shapiro podcast from the Daily Wire, and I am updating the post now to point to a new episode – episode 24. Shapiro agrees with me: Christie AND Jindal won the undercard debate, and Cruz did the best in the main event.
I spend the night reading and re-tweeting on Twitter – sorry to everyone for the huge number of tweets. What was striking to me was the juvenile nature of the Democrat tweets. Many of them came from professional comedians or Hollywood celebrities… but others came from liberal politicians, and even people from liberal think tanks. Yet not ONE tweet from the left was anything of substance. It was all just dismissive mocking. Literally. Not one serious tweet. It’s not surprising that they are so supportive of a clueless clown who added $10 trillion dollars to the national debt, and point that achievement as a great success. Oh well, that’s why we have elections. I would be happy with any of Jindal, Cruz or Rubio right now. I would even take Fiorina in a pinch.
One final thing. Fox Business put on the fairest and most engaging debate yet. They set the standard for everyone else, and made CNBC look like incompetent college students. Every debate should run this smoothly – the moderators just disappeared, and they let the candidates talk to America, and talk to each other. I learned a lot about the candidate’s views, and nothing at all about the moderator’s views.