Cruz Crushed, Carly Killed, and CNBC Choked
Last night was the 3rd republican debate and there were some great applause lines and a few drop the mic kind of moments from several of the candidates. I believe that as much of a train wreck as the debate last night was, I think it will be one for the history books. When you think of the historical presidential debates most people who follow this sort of thing immediately think of Kennedy/Nixon in 1960 and of course Reagan’s “I’m paying for this microphone!!!” moment. More recently some remember Newt Gingrich’s response to the question that CNN used to open the debate in 2012 with Romney, Santorum, and Paul. Like these and other historical televised presidential debates last night’s debacle on CNBC will be one that we will talk about for years to come.
With that in mind I’d like to offer my analysis of what took place on the debate stage last night. Carson and Trump took center stage flanked by Rubio and Fiorina. The rest of the podiums were piloted by Bush, Cruz, Huckabee, Christie, Kasich and Paul, with their positions on the stage reflecting their respective positions on the polls. Their ranking prior to the debate, in my opinion, had very little relation to their performance during the debate. So here is what my scorecard looked like at the sound of the bell last night.
Ted Cruz – The Clear Winner
Last night Ted Cruz was his usual intelligent self. He is a very highly educated and skilled artisan when it comes to debate. In the second debate, hosted by CNN, Cruz came of as a bit robotic and, to some, a bit impersonal. However, last night he had no problem shedding that misconception and effectively showed a personable, passionate, and genuinely likable side. Not to mention he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he “gets it.” His tax plan was just about the only one that makes common sense and is a truly workable solution and on the issues he was clear, concise and well spoken. His outstanding performance anchored by this one quote, “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate, illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.”
Marco Rubio – A Strong Second
Marco Rubio showed last night that he is a formidable candidate. He is able to clearly articulate his positions and defend himself against whatever jabs may come his way. Rubio is, of course, closer to being an “establishment” candidate than Cruz but he is still “outsider” enough to maintain his appeal to those who are sick of Washington insiders like Bush and Clinton. While he did not shine quite as brightly as Cruz, Rubio gave a solid performance worthy of recognition in the second place spot.
Ben Carson – A Respectable Third
I have a bit of a soft spot for Ben Carson, I’ve had a “Run Ben Run” bumper sticker on my truck for sometime and as much as I like Cruz, I certainly would not be disappointed if Dr. Carson ended up as the nominee. He is an intellectual giant with an obvious ability to adapt to a changing climate without looking like a flip-flopper. He demonstrated this last night when bluntly admitted he was wrong about subsidies in the past and has since changed his mind. He gave a solid performance and while time will tell if he will be able to create a substantial enough campaign infrastructure to go the distance he is certainly not done yet.
Carly Fiorina – As Strong As Ever
Carly is clearly a gifted public speaker and without question one of most qualified candidates in the field. I actually worked at Hewlett-Packard during her tenure as CEO and while the outsiders tried hard to assail her leadership, those of us that worked for her actually thought she did a pretty bang up job. She masterfully rebutted the continued nonsense from the moderators showing that she deserves a spot on that stage she clearly has a lot to offer as a leader.
Donald Trump – Top Five at Best
I know Donald Trump is somewhat of a popular darling and a lot of people like his straightforward and blunt approach, but I think it is beginning to wear thin. Last night, we saw a little less bravado and arrogance and that played well for him. He clearly learns quickly as his debate performance last night was much more respectful and statesmen like than we saw in the first 2 debates. On the other hand I don’t think he offered enough real tangible information on the issues. Other than abstract ideals and platitudes on immigration he didn’t offer much meat for those of us who are hungry solid conservative values to be restored to our nation.
The Rest – Bland May Be Too Kind
I’m going to be honest I almost lumped Trump in to “The Rest” category but it is hard to deny his popularity so he gets a top five honorable mention, if you will. As for the rest of the field here’s the highlights, in no particular order. Huckabee I like, he seems like a nice guy with solid convictions and even a good conservative record but for whatever reason he can’t seem to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. I think Christie had a good performance but it felt to me like he was trying to recapture the glory days of his popularity by acting aggressive and tough. Bush was just awkward and demonstrated a lack of self-awareness that I think will end up being the last nail in the coffin of his already dead candidacy. Let’s face the whole warm kiss thing was just weird. Kasich seemed like and angry old drunk and Rand Paul while he may have some good ideas he lacks the wisdom and likability of his father which just makes him seem irrelevant to most people.
The Moderators – Losers, All of Them
This was covered at great length by just about every news outlet you can imagine. I won’t bother boring you any further. But again Cruz’s line absolutely hit the nail on the head, when he said “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate, illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media.”
So there you have it, my analysis of last nights debate. Take it for what it’s worth, just another pundits thoughts. But maybe you think I’m crazy or maybe you think I’m right on. Either way I’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to comment or share your thoughts below.http://bradschmidt.net/cnbc_debate/Politics