What follows are my personal impressions of the initial 2016 debate. I've tried to fairly assign each candidate a letter grade based solely upon the night's performance, not my personal advocacy/animosity level for the candidate.
Jeb Bush: D
In what was a surprisingly awful performance, Jeb looked like a deer in the headlights on multiple occasions. In person, Jeb's tall and imposing; but on the debate stage he looked small and weak. His attempt to bolster his prior, bizarre comments on illegal immigration, especially in the wake of Kate Steinle's murder, was a rambling, hot mess.
Ben Carson: B-
Carson is an appealing candidate who appeared overwhelmed at the beginning of the debate and then seemed to find his footing as the night wore on. His likable personality is both tempered and bolstered by the fact that he's not a professional politician.
Chris Christie: B-
His personal appearance is likely problematic for audiences used to attractive candidates like Obama, Paul, and Fiorina. Christie's fiery response to Rand Paul was arguably the best comeback of the night; he also reacted commendably to a tough opening question about a sequence of debt downgrades in the state of New Jersey.
Ted Cruz: A-
His polished debate skills were in full effect with powerful concepts expressed concisely and passionately. There is no question Cruz is a first-tier candidate and the thinking man's version of Donald Trump, the quintessential anti-establishment candidate.
Mike Huckabee: A
His vast television experience showed; Huckabee was polished and professional.
John Kasich: B-
Kasich appeared a bit over-rehearsed and shopworn. Curiously, for an experienced broadcast professional (a former Fox News analyst), some of his responses were rambling and unfocused.
Rand Paul: C
Paul got the worst end of a rhetorical scrap with Christie, bearing the brunt of a critique as a blowhard politican and not a man of action. Paul's passion showed in a somewhat raw and unpresidential way; worst of all, his weakness on foreign policy in a field of hawks was an unvarnished negative.
Marco Rubio: C
Personal affectations aside (just some odd mannerisms I noticed, in the genre of his well-known sip of a water bottle), Rubio comes off less as a first-tier candidate than I'd anticipated. His eloquence was offset by a posture of uncertainty, which manifests itself in an apparent lack of confidence.
Donald Trump: B
Donald was, eh, Donald. His head-on, counterattack against a confrontational Megyn Kelly, who essentially accused him of blatant misogyny, probably won him as many fans as he lost. But his refusal to renounce a third-party run could dampen enthusiasm among those who see the country being badly damaged by another Democrat president. And that's precisely what a third-party run would mean.
Scott Walker: B
His lack of charisma was almost astonishing, given his track record. Walker came off as so unassuming and laid back that he almost appeared to be a holographic projection. But Walker demeanor is also a benefit in some respects, coming off as an everyman -- rather than the scripted, Hollywood-style politician to which we've become accustomed.
Related: Must-See Late Night Clip: Conan Mocks the ‘Other’ GOP Debate.
I agree with you about Walker. Also, Walker and Reince Preibus are close friends and I think Walker is in it to take away votes from Cruz on behalf of the establishment GOP leadership. Rubio is as well. I don't trust Walker for some reason. I just don't.
Cruz should be A+. He was not given a chance to shine like he really can. IMO, Cruz is brilliant. His book is wonderful. Out of all of the candidates, Cruz can be trusted to follow through on what he says he will do.
Carson is very likeable and has a nice, dry sense of humor. He just isn't dynamic enough to make a big impression. He is big on substance, most certainly. However, I think because of his pediatric/pediatrician profession and years of having to be a calm, comforting influence working with children - his demeanor can't help but be quiet and less aggressive. He had to adapt that kind of personality to be a successful children's doctor. But being a politician he needs more of a presence and a more aggressive nature to get things done.
Rubio is a RINO in training. A smooth talker/liar who will carry the "good ol' boys' club" torch as long as he is in D.C. And, again, he is in it on behalf of the RINO establishment in case Jeb bites the dust - and to take votes away from Cruz.
Bush is a spoiled rich kid who is all for the "New World Order" nonsense and his support of Common Core and "amnesty" (even though he won't admit that's what it really is) puts him out of the running.
Rand Paul is a libertarian and not my cup o'tea. He will never be the nominee. His and Christie's "exchange" was childish and accomplished nothing substantive in why they were all there. Christie likes being "king of the hill" and is just as big a blowhard as "the Donald". I don't like either Paul or Christie.
Trump is resonating with those conservatives who are not going to put up with the squishy, lying, manipulative GOP establishment or the Obama-loving media any longer. He is brash, in-your-face and calls a spade a spade. BUT, his personality is also a "turn-off" to many people as well. The one thing that hit me last night was the fact that he defends his "pay to play" donations (to democrat PACs and Clinton's Foundation, big corporate lobbyists, etc.) that line his pockets as well and tried to make it seem that when he does it, it's ok because "it's good business". Conservatives want to stop the crony capitalism and Trump can't have it both ways. He really isn't conservative at all and if he runs as an independent, it would be a tragedy that, I hope, isn't being orchestrated by the Clintons and RINOs. You never know with a guy like Trump - he is a business man first and foremost and his "art of the deal" puts him right up there with the most ruthless of politicians.
Kasich is "in it" in case Jeb, Rubio or Walker fail - he's the last minute backup candidate to take more votes away from Cruz. He has the personality that Jeb, Rubio and Walker lack.
Huck is ok, but he is too much of a bible-thumper for me. He does well in the debates because it's "what he does" - talks in front of audiences to influence them and he's good at it.
I missed Fiorina in the earlier debates but understand she did exceptionally well. Good! I like her. Especially when she shines the light on that hideous cockroach Hillary Clinton.
I don't have much else to say about the rest. I'm a Ted supporter and, for me, no one else exists!!!
My dream ticket would be Cruz/Fiorina.
Too bad Cruz isn't a natural born citizen :(
That phony talking point has been beat to death. Cruz is eligible to run and is running. Get used to it.
I was very disappointed in Fox "news"- that wasn't a debate, it was a hit job.
Trump, of course, was the patsy; he was supposed to roll over and wag his tail, but he didn't! Megyn Kelly and Chris Matthews were both dripping venom toward Trump, but somehow Jeb! got a lot nicer treatment. It was dramatic theater, especially the way the "moderators" or inquisitioners framed their "gotcha" questions.
For a supposedly "fair and balanced" network, it wasn't. Thought I was watching MSNBC at times!
Whatever nukes the GOPe works for me; looks like the Establishment has got to Fox, they're getting praise from the NYT and CNN! That can't mean anything other than "It's great because it's so bad for conservatives! Hit 'em again, harder!"
Not Fox's finest hour. YMMV.
"But his refusal to renounce a third-party run could dampen enthusiasm among those who see the country being badly damaged by another Democrat president"
Why is everyone pushing this meme? Trump was not asked if he would run third party, he was asked if he would support the Republican nominee if it ain't him? There is a vast difference in the two. And why would anyone support a nominee they didn't like? Want the answer to that question, just ask Mitt Romney who should have won but didn't because Republicans who saw him for the milquetoast Republican he is, stayed at home.
Ted Cruz should have been an A+. He, of all the candidates, was clear, to the point and said exactly what he would do on Day One. And if anyone has done in D.C. what he promised his voters he would do, it is Cruz.
Huckabee was good and deserved his mark. Cristie was the same obnoxious person he always is. Jeb! is Jeb!. Can we remind you again who his dad and brother are while he tells you he is his own man?
Just a note on the absurd notion that Ted Cruz isnt a natural born citizen.
When did Cruz become a citizen? He was born one.
That is the definition of natural born citizen. Everything else is just blather.
You can attempt to read some complicated set of qualifications into it, but they arent actually there if you read the standard. You must attain you citizenship at birth. Cruz did.
Nothing more, nothing less.
to @ Anonymous 6:53pm comment.
Hombre! you do know that there's this thing called the internet and YouTube? You said,
"... Trump was not asked if he would run third party, he was asked if he would support the Republican nominee if it ain't him?..."
go back to the web, and you'll find this is what Baier said... quote: "... is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight, to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the republican party, and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?
You stand corrected, sir.
Jacksonian Grouch, Welllllllllllllll, excuse me. But I can tell you flat out that I will not, as a Republican, support a Jeb! Bush or a Chris Christie. If Christie wants to appoint Sharia compliant judges in New Jersey, he can. If Jeb! wants to have open borders, then perhaps he can take all those illegals in to live with him.
Conservatives have held their noses and voted for Dole, McCain and Romney and they are NOT going to do it again. They, like Trump, will not support certain candidates just like they did not come out and support Romney.
Jacksonian Grouch- I can't quite determine the difference, maybe it's a difference without a distinction. Let's try an example: the Washington Cartel appoints Jeb! as the preferred Republican. No conservative will vote for him, but RINOs and independents will cast enough votes for him to lose; that's the plan you know.
Would the Cartel choose someone else? Maybe you think they'd choose Ted Cruz? (Whom I very much like, BTW.) Not a chance in a million. He's unfortunately dependent on the Cartel for funding, like all the rest; and he's (correctly) called McConnell a liar; you think that gets him points in the Establishment? Don't think so.
So the "choice" given Trump amounts to: Support Jeb! once he gets the inevitable nomination + no Independent run, you promised! OR- what? No other option as far as I can see; maybe you see it differently. That "choice" then, is: Support Jeb! or don't run. Screw that!
Go Donald, Make America Great Again!
I'd rate Fox as a D. While there were good questions they were balanced with gotcha questionsw of no relevance. Kelly and Wallace seemed determined to win a spot on MSNBC.
Cruz won by any measure, and would have done better had he'd been asked substantive questions.
The debate disappointed in its failures to address the debt issue, illegal immigration, the collapse of the judiciary, our disasterous foreign policy and the imperial presidency.
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