Wednesday, October 28, 2015

More Substantive Republican Debate; Carson, Rubio Big Winners

This third debate for the Republicans began in a clunky format with very vague, terribly cliché and gotcha questions. The first half was clearly focused on the personality and characteristic differences between candidates, whereas the second half seemed solidly issue-oriented. Overall, I would say this was more substantive and issue-oriented than the other two Republican debates. 

Clearly, Governor Bush maintained his strength and showed his policy prowess in all parts of the debate. He also had one of the best zingers of the night, directed at his fellow Floridian and Senator, Marco Rubio. “The Senate, is it like a French work week?” This was in reference to Rubio’s lackluster attendance and voting record in the Senate. Both Rubio and Bush faired better in the beginning of the debate than in the latter half. Rubio was able to share more of his own personal story throughout than anyone else on stage.

Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson were the lead men of the night. Carson appeared to be a bit off his game on some economic topics, but by the end of the night he had regained his focus, his message, and his connection to the audience in Boulder, Colorado. Despite his lack of experience and knowledge in and of politics and government, he has a keen ability to adapt and reflect in a way that does seem somehow genuine. This was honestly shocking for me to acknowledge.

Trump handled himself adeptly on nearly every challenge. Denying where he needed to, regardless of the facts, and repeating his grandiose claims, regardless of the need for actual plans and any moderator’s or candidate’s criticisms of his lack of either. 

Trump maneuvered himself throughout the debate and landed his best line of the night in his closing where he crystallized his mastery of negotiation by disclosing how he changed the terms of the debate by aligning himself with Carson and strong-arming CNBC into shortening the debate, causing the network to lose money in ads. This was another point of contention he had with one of the moderators, but there was substantial enough news coverage on social media for any Trump supporter to find his claim believable.

Carly Fiorina seemed a pale version of herself tonight. Her message was an important one, though. She continued to repeat how all of the reforms all of these men had been raising that all politicians had been raising for decades and that it never comes to fruition. Proven leaders were needed to push this reform agenda through. That might leave her out, some of the other candidates on the stage might have offered but no one was willing to engage her in any real way tonight. I think they learned the lesson Trump learned from the previous debate. 

Governor Chris Christie continued his defiant talk and his somewhat forced speeches to the voters at home. He may have actually made more headway in the second half. However, with so many candidates still in the race, it’s very difficult for any of these candidates to have a truly breakthrough moment if he or she isn’t already registering with voters.

Governor John Kasich, who in the first half seemed angry and downtrodden, appeared to perk up in the second half of the debate. He had a rousing, uplifting closing that may leave potential voters something to remember him by, but maybe not, considering his week of commentary about the race. Both him and Bush this week shared similar frustrations about the campaign, showing signs of stress and strain.

Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul seemed to blend together for me as they’re both political outsiders in the Senate Republican caucus. I think Paul articulated his message better, but Cruz is likely to resonate and feel more believable to Republican voters. Both have opportunities for grandstanding in the week ahead in Congress with the recent budget deal between House, Senate, and the President.

That leaves Governor Huckabee who was just full of clichés and other dreadful, insubstantial dribble that wasn’t even worth remembering. He’s selling a cookbook, I think. 

Overall, the big winner would have to be Carson, believe it or not, as by the end he looked more confident, more comfortable, and connected to reality. Trump and Rubio close behind. Followed by Bush, then Cruz. Kasich a bit over Christie, simply because Kasich is just a bit more likable. Paul, Fiorina, and last has to be Huckabee. 

No comments:

Post a Comment