Unless you live on Mars, under a rock, or spent the evening doing productive things, you probably watched the fourth GOP debate last night. In fact, FOX Business did such a good job hosting the debate that the aliens on Mars cancelled their plans to destroy the earth – which they came up with while watching the CNBC debate. All kidding aside, John Kasich made up for the absence of aliens by trying to single-handedly destroy the debate. But I digress.
I realize that this is probably the seven millionth post-debate wrap up you’ve read, so I’m going to try to stay away from the obvious takeaways. Here are a few quick thoughts:
OVERALL WINNER: FOX BUSINESS FBN did a phenomenal job hosting this debate, from the debate format to the moderators. The questions asked were serious, substantial, and resulted in the candidates giving solid answers. I liked only having eight candidates on the main stage, and I also liked that Pataki and Graham were excluded entirely. They’re not serious candidates, and they shouldn’t be treated like they are.
PROPHET OF THE WEEK: ERICK ERICKSON Erick predicted several months ago that the race would come down to Rubio vs. Cruz, and he’s starting to look like Nostradamus. With Jeb fading and Kasich acting like an annoying old uncle, Rubio is the only candidate left who can fill the establishment lane. Note that I did NOT say “establishment candidate,” because he isn’t. His Heritage Action, ACU, NRA, and NRTL scores should prove that. (Side note – the conservative movement should consider it a victory if Rubio is the establishment pick. We’ve changed the establishment so much that their guy has a 93% lifetime score from Heritage Action.) As for Cruz, he’s really the only candidate who has the organization, money, and talent to capture the base vote. Carson and Trump may be leading polls, but that doesn’t mean much come voting time.
FIRST PLACE: MARCO RUBIO Let’s not kid ourselves – [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] is a darn good debater. This is the fourth debate, and it’s the fourth debate he’s won. He’s a gifted communicator, and he showed that he can connect with millennials, even referencing Candy Crush. This was a nice contrast with Governor Bush, who managed to get Monopoly and Risk mixed up. Rubio also had what I think will be a defining moment when he battled [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ] over foreign policy. Americans don’t feel safe right now, and they’re looking for a leader who can restore order to the world and make them feel safe.
SECOND PLACE: [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] Cruz had some really good moments, although at times he came across as far too melodramatic. Overall, I think he did what he needed to do, which was solidify his position as the conservative alternative to Trump. A major part of Cruz’s strategy has been to suck up to Donald Trump in hopes that Trump would drop out and endorse him. While that’s not entirely impossible, it hasn’t happened yet, so Cruz has had to adapt to stay relevant. He gave solid answers, but he does have the tendency to preach to the choir. That’s fine for a GOP debate, but he needs to prove that he communicate the conservative message to a mainstream audience.
LOSER OF THE CENTURY: JOHN KASICH Wow. What an incredibly ugly performance from everyone’s favorite ObamaCare expanding, Jesus-invoking, liberal Governor. I would not be surprised if he never recovers from this debate and fades quietly into the night. (I certainly wouldn’t mind that, either.) But Kasich decided to show up and take charge, and he came off looking like, to put it politely, the south end of a north bound donkey. He interrupted the moderators and the other candidates, tried to talk about completely unrelated things, and then gave answers that went right over voter’s heads. I’m a policy geek, and most of Kasich’s answers didn’t even make sense to me. Overall, he just acted like an absolute jerk. This performance also probably killed any chances of him being the VP pick as well. So yeah, you could say he had a bad night.
ONE WORD SUMMARIES:
No matter which candidate you support, we can all agree that we are blessed to live in a nation where we can debate freely and choose our leaders in peace. On this Veterans Day, thank all the veterans in your life for preserving these freedoms for all of us.
Note: I serve as the Communications Director of Georgia Students for Rubio. If you have any thoughts on the debate or want to discuss anything with me, you can find me on twitter.com/conradclose.