GOP Candidates Bring Out Their A-Game in Debate
- Category: News
- Published: Friday, 11 March 2016 09:05
- Written by Zogby
- Hits: 1130
There was no shouting Thursday at the latest Republican presidential debate. The candidates best known for their shouting and posturing showed some discipline and acted with dignity. I think all four candidates comported themselves very well. They played to their bases, well defined by now, and while the content was a little scary at times, there was a sense of mutual respect displayed we have seldom seen during this long campaign.
There were no knock out punches but there were some good moments. Here is how I scored this one:
Donald Trump came in the big winner and nothing was done to knock him off his perch. He made some dangerous statements about Islam and its hatred for the United States which other candidates pounced on. And they also got their dander up about his declaration that he would authorize killing members of terrorists' families. But these statements were not new and, to date, they have worked well for Trump. He was on his best behavior from the start: much more subdued, less willing to attack or counter-attack. He continued to overuse words like "disaster" and had few specifics to layout, but he leads in polls in three of four states on March 15 and there was nothing tonight that was likely to change any minds.
Ted Cruz entered the evening as the main challenger to Trump. He has now won six states and is second to Trump in delegates accumulated. He got his first Senate endorsement tonight from his Utah Tea Party colleague and friend Mike Lee. Cruz was, as always, sharp and focused. He was the only one who challenged Trump tonight, especially on Cuba, Iran, and Israel. He is the most skilled debater left in this race and he clearly did not hurt himself.
Marco Rubio had the Miami home-field advantage. We could hear the cheers from the friendly crowd from his home. He was very articulate on a wide variety of policies including the environment, Social Security, Israel, Cuba, and economic growth. At the very least he restored his reputation as an up and coming politician. He really needed to do that. His path to a nomination is almost non-existent but he was being ridiculed by pundits, opponents, and even some supporters. Previously the most disciplined of candidates, he had gotten off track with his attacks on Trump and his tasteless sense of humor. One poll has him tightening the race in Florida but most have him down by double digits. There have been calls for him to step down before Tuesday but he went a long way to rehabilitating his reputation tonight.
John Kasich was at his very best. He stayed focused on his message of economic growth, his singular experience both as a congressional leader who delivered military reform, a balanced budget and as a successful governor of the pivotal state of Ohio. He also remained consistent in keeping his promise to keep above the fray - the adult in the room. He needs to win in Ohio where he currently leads in the latest poll there. He helped himself tonight.