The New Hampshire debate on ABC was an absolute ****show from start to finish. However, there were a few candidates who came across as ready to lead, and there were candidates who took this debate as merely a placeholder until South Carolina and beyond. The governors on the stage, however, looked like actual grown-ups tonight.
Jeb Bush finally wins one against Donald Trump – and in New Hampshire, it was a big win – while Chris Christie draws blood on Marco Rubio. John Kasich, though a sanctimonious ass, once again plays the friendly guy in the room, and doesn’t come off looking any worse for it. Each of them looked thoroughly prepared for the job on day one.
Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio had just awful openings in the debate, and while each was able to come back, it simply seemed too little too late for the crowd on stage and perhaps for the primary. Rubio did a stellar job on military and foreign policy, while Cruz connected well with his personal story on drug addiction in his family. But, people will remember Rubio losing the Christie-Rubio exchange, and Cruz is still having to deal with the nontroversy of the Carson campaign rumors, and the fact that ABC really didn’t want him to talk.
Trump, meanwhile, looks like a petulant child, and Ben Carson’s only notable achievement is that he’s been awake the whole time.
Cruz and Rubio, who most expect to be the two finalists, haven’t really shined throughout any of this. Meanwhile, Bush, Christie, and Kasich, whom no one on this site really claims to be a big fan of, stood out. For the three governors, you see, it’s do or die. It’s a shame that it took them – especially Chris Christie – so long to stand out really well in a debate, because each does actually have something good to bring to the table.
While the top three out of Iowa – Cruz, Trump, and Rubio – are still the top three candidate among voters, but there are three candidates who have everything to lose, and they came to the table ready to play tonight. Perhaps for the first time this cycle, but they showed up. I don’t think it will ultimately do much in the long run, as we’ll still see Cruz, Rubio, and (sadly) Trump dominate both the polls and the media’s attention. But this debate showed why they got in it in the first place.