Has the table started to turn for the Republicans? For about nine months now, the pundits have all said that sooner or later, Donald Trump would fall and it would be a deadly mistake that did him in. One week ahead of the South Carolina primary, in which Trump has a significant lead, the GOP had a debate. And it was not a pretty picture by all accounts. It was a friggin’ bloodbath.
Donald Trump reassumed the role of snarky attack dog at this debate, trying to put Jeb! Bush away time and time again. The only difference is, Bush was ready this time, and had some rather stinging barbs to throw back at The Donald. Throughout the debate Trump came across as mean, almost sinister, while others looked a LOT more presidential. No, this debate was not Donald Trump’s finest hour. I almost expected him to drop a few “F bombs” onto the crowd at CBS. He didn’t, but I bet their fingers were on the 7 second delay button!
The big winner of the night appeared to me to be Bush. He was in control, he was confident, and yes, he had the energy that Trump said early on he lacked to be leader of the free world. That certainly wasn’t evident last night as time and time again, he sparred with Trump, wounding the billionaire several times, while effectively avoiding the jabs and uppercuts that Trump threw.
Marco Rubio also impressed last evening. Robotic? Nope. That was a one-debate stumble apparently. He was back to being his concise, convincing self. His policies were clear, his notions were well-thought-out, and he chose to attack at the right times. I thought Marco had one of his best debates. It certainly won’t hurt him!
Ted Cruz was Ted Cruz. He’s a master debater, and with the exception of his debate in New Hampshire, I felt he has been on the money from day one. He was last night. Oh, he didn’t need to be in the weeds with Trump and Bush, but he was there fighting and making his point. I was proud of the job he did and could see what he was a national debating champion in college. That skill certainly hasn’t left him.
Ben Carson needs a LOT of help. I was at one point leaning toward Carson because I liked his demeanor and his thoughts. He’s really conservative, and we need someone that is going to undo what Obama has done. He would follow the Constitution, yet tear down the crap Obama has built. But alas, Carson has also shown that it’s tough for an outsider to jump into the presidential politics game. You get over your head so fast and sink so deep that it doesn’t make sense to anyone. That’s what has happened several times to Carson, and it happened to him again last night. Unless Ben can come back and finish strong, I don’t see him moving on to Nevada.
John Kasich should just be about done. Kasich has an OK night, but it wasn’t memorable, because the only thing missing from this debate was a Michael Buffer introduction at the beginning. That’s not Kasich’s style and so he was pretty much left out of it. He’s not doing well in South Carolina, and the strategy of throwing all your eggs in the New Hampshire basket hasn’t panned out like he thought it would. Someone should have told him, there are 48 more states to go after NH, and you have to start building a ground game in all of them!
Overall, look for Trump to lose some support in South Carolina. I don’t know if it will be enough to cost him the state. If it does, it will be the beginning of the end. Any Trump victory will be a win in The Donald’s eyes. Cruz will finish second, and the real fight will be to see who gets third. If it’s Rubio, he continues to be the “third wheel” in this race with Bush the outsider. And if it’s Bush, then they both have an awful lot of work to do!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!