Our national anxiety is at a fever pitch. We have existential threats on the outside and on the inside. We have one group of citizens who want to be protected from conservatives and another that want to be protected from terrorists. Our President views the latter as irrational and the former as absolutely correct.
Last night, we had the main stage with nine candidates, of whom we shall not have nine by New Hampshire. It was the most caustic debate and it brought out the best and worst in several of the candidates. As I sat there, a few thoughts kept popping into my head.
First off, the Governors were really laying into the Senators about their lack of experience. The business people were also laying into the politicians about the nature of their work and experience. The Senators were focused on arguing among themselves about what could or could not be done.
The nomination path is akin to a game of Musical Chairs, with the money and the votes going to those who have a seat at the right time. Some, like Carson, appear to have peaked and are plummeting. Others, like Christie, appear to be increasing their support.
Collectively, seven of the candidates appear to have some negotiating power. Two are dead candidates walking. The question on the table is which candidates can siphon off the support for others fastest and gain traction toward a majority stake. If nothing changes, our nominee will be Donald Trump.
Several of the candidates are going to face increasing pressure to throw their support to a Trump challenger. In order to do that, they must become convinced they cannot climb nor stage a comeback. This is not easy to do, as all of the candidates have won office or been an executive or been in a leadership role. None of them will want to stop.
Christie, Fiorina, and Cruz appeared most Hawkish to me. On the flip side, Paul, Kasich, Carson and Bush appeared the least defense-oriented. Trump and Rubio were in the middle, for me. I do not think that a non-Hawkish candidate can win in 2016, so I do not think that Paul, Kasich, Carson nor Bush will win.
I would like to see the next debate be among Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Christie and Fiorina. That would be Senators, Governor, and business people. I am not predicting the eventual winner, but it would be interesting to increase their time. I think we have too many people on that stage right now and we need to whittle it down so we can coalesce around a candidate.