Rubio Knocked Trump For A Standing 10 Count

Wow. What a debate.

Marco Rubio didn’t let Donald Trump come up for a breath. It was really a thing of beauty to see Rubio knock Trump around like that.

The question is: will it hurt Trump? His supporters may be so invested in their man’s success that he really could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote.

Marco Rubio really landed some good punches and got under Trump’s skin. Ted Cruz not so much, but Cruz was very solid.

Hitting on the high points, between Rubio and Cruz, they got Trump to admit:

  • He’s creating a new Republican Party (that is more inclusive, so it will look just like the Democrats)
  • He isn’t going to release his tax returns because he keeps getting audited
  • He supports Planned Parenthood, but still wants to defund them (a ridiculous statement)
  • He is “neutral” on Israel but pro-Israel (another ridiculous statement)

Not only did they get Trump to admit these things but they contrasted him with sane, actual conservative positions on the same issues.

Best line of the night against Trump (of so many Rubio had):

That about sums it up.

I have to wonder if so much trust has been lost between Cruz and Rubio supporters, that they can’t come together to see that this was a marvelous butt-whooping of Trump. It should have been done since the first debate.

We will see if the needle moves on any of the post-debate polls. If not, we’re all in trouble.


Rubio Did Very Well, But Will It Help?

My initial impressions after the debate. I don’t think anything will change in Iowa based on Thursday’s results.

Rubio did very, very well. Cruz held his own, but his attempts at humor fell a bit flat, and his pedantic nature showed through the polish.

Rubio went after evangelicals, invoking his faith several times. It probably won’t help him in Iowa, where he’s chasing Cruz and Trump. It may hurt him in NH. Tweets like this are pretty typical of freethinking New Hampshirites, and the religious crowd tends to be more subdued in their faith.

Luntz’s focus group chose Rubio as the winner, but some pegged him as angry.

I didn’t think Rubio’s anger was overwhelming. I think it was refreshing.

Trump’s absence was refreshing to me.

Cruz wanted to pursue Trump by cracking a few jokes which really didn’t go over too well. This validates Trump’s decision to sit the debate out. Nobody could make an attack stick to him when he’s not there.

In the post-debate interview with Megyn Kelly, she tried to trap Cruz with his amnesty comments, then backed off and accused him of “acting.” In reality, Cruz did a great job defending his 38-word no-amnesty amendment. The message got through.

The biggest surprise of the night was Jeb Bush, who did astoundingly well with his nemesis gone.

Rand Paul was also strong. He should never have been kicked off the main stage. He can only help keep the conversation on policy not personal insults. He brought his own cheering section reminiscent of his father.

Carson was, unfortunately, practically non-existent, and as usual, Kasich was a joke.

I liked this debate more than just about all the others. No Trump is a definite help. We’ll see how this thing turns out Monday.

Of Course Trump Could Join The Debate

Donald Trump made a great splash by pulling out of the Fox News debate tonight, but of course, he could still go.

The event Trump scheduled is less than three miles from the debate location at the Iowa Events Center, and starts at 7 p.m. The debate starts at 9 p.m.

Trump could easily do both. It would be just like him to pull that kind of stunt–or not. Perhaps the point is to keep us guessing.

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Practicing The Fine Art Of C.Y.A.

I’m no fan of rap music, but the lyrics “This is so all bad, nothin’ good can come from this” come to mind for Donald Trump.

Trump was wise to drop out of Thursday’s debate. Lying in wait for him are no less than three candidates who had their guns dialed into his backside, chief among them Ted Cruz, champion debater, who was unlikely to repeat his hamfisted “New York values” retort. (Although that theme has given Cruz much mileage in TV ads.)

The rather lame excuse of not liking Megyn Kelly, whom he previously abused in every way possible, is simply cover for a larger problem Trump may well have come Monday. He knows he could lose the Iowa caucuses, but he doesn’t know by how much. Even if he wins, attending Thursday’s debate can’t help him in any way.

So by sitting it out, Trump accomplishes two things: One, he keeps the spotlight on himself, which is always useful to him. Two, he provides a cover story for losing, a C.Y.A. he can use that the media was unfairly stacked against him. Trump can paint himself as the victim while avoiding the worst thrusts from his rivals.

Now if Cruz or Bush or Christie or Paul want to slam Trump, they won’t have him (in person) to kick around Thursday. And Trump will undoubtedly do something to undermine or overshadow the debate in any case, producing even more cover.

I think many voters will see through the transparent reasons Trump gave for bowing out and that in itself could hurt him. But as all survivors do, Trump is planning ahead for damage control. There’s little more he can do in Iowa to win, but there’s lots more he can do to not let it hurt him if he loses.

He is practicing the fine art of C.Y.A.

Fact Checking the GOP Debate

The Washington Post fact checker, although not unbiased, did a fair job at backing up the candidates statements from the South Carolina debate.

Among the top items:

  • Christie denied supporting Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court: He did support her.
  • Cruz claimed Trump’s own lawyers looked at the issue of Cruz’s birth and found no issue: Trump did tell ABC News “I hear it was checked out by every attorney and every which way, and I understand Ted is in fine shape.”
  • Cruz said “We have the lowest percentage of Americans working today of any year since 1977.” Yup, essentially that’s right.
  • Trump wondered where the 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods came from: Him, he said it.

Read the whole piece.

Cruz Had the Definition, Rubio Has the Passion

Frank Luntz ran a focus group during the GOP debate last night, which yielded some useful results. Ted Cruz received top marks overall, but Marco Rubio got the biggest spike on his gun control remarks.

“Criminals don’t buy their guns from a gun show. They don’t buy their guns from a collector. And they don’t buy their guns from a gun store.

They steal them, they get them on the black market. And let me tell you, ISIS and terrorists do not get their guns from a gun show.”

The group used words describing Rubio as a “superstar,” “very articulate,” and “unwavering.” They praised his “youthful exuberance.”

“Cruz had the definition,” panelist Beverly said, “but at this point, Rubio had the passion.”

That description is dead-on. Rubio went after every issue last night with passion, and when he read Cruz a litany of “flip-flops,” he did it with passion. Cruz at times comes off as dispassionate because his responses tend to be the measured statements of a champion debater.

As for Cruz, he was consistent and able to effectively counter Trump. The “New York values” moment didn’t move at least one panelist, Daryl, who said Trump “didn’t need to take it so personally.” Another panelist thought Cruz took it a little too far.

In the end, nobody was really moved by the back-and-forth between Cruz and Trump. “Stick to the issues,” one panelist said.

Sadly for the establishment, Cruz and Trump did not self-annhiliate last night, although they did generate sparks for the first time on a debate stage. Rubio showed what he could be if he shows up more consistently on the issues. We need to see more of that and less of the sideshow.

Trump Goes Full Birther on Cruz at GOP Debate

I really didn’t expect Trump to go there and double down on his birther remarks on Ted Cruz. It drew boos and the best line of the night from Cruz after Donald invoked liberal Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe.

“I’m not going to be taking legal advice from Donald Trump.”