As determined by Fox from following polling, the GOP Headliners included Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and John Kasich. My first impression out of the gate was that the questions were pointed and initially seeking decent answers. I was surprised the attack on Trump was immediate, but in classic format for these events, it is expected to attack the frontrunner. Acknowledging Trump is their "frontrunner" is interesting all by itself (but I can leave that for future blogs should the guy still be hanging around in a few months).
Was there anything of substance said last night? Not really - except Rand Paul's tortured response on America financially supporting Israel - he doesn't believe in it. Right then and there, any real Jewish supporters for Paul jumped off his wagon almost as fast as his recently indicted campaign fundraisers. Mr. Paul is most likely going to be sent down to the minors by the midnight trade deadlines.
Jeb Bush seemed awkward when defending his positions on immigration, foreign policy and education. Clearly his heart is not in this run for the White House. This leads me to conclude that the establishment of the GOP is in trouble. Marco Rubio continued to try to distance himself from the field by invoking his youth - the exact same topic that has many shying away from supporting him. His duplicitous stance on Jeb is also going to have his candidacy "swirling the bowl."
Chris Christie tried to make himself out to be a clone of Gulianni and a record of fighting terrorism - through the courts. Funny thing is, Commanders In Chief fight terrorism with military, not lawyers. His claim of widespread success in New Jersey was as far from reality as Scott Walker's claims about turning around Wisconsin. Walker, looking like a Warner Brothers' Cartoon clone, tossed out more platitudes than a carnival barker. Did I expect anything better from Mr. Walker? Not really.
I was somewhat disappointed though with Ben Carson. He's obviously smart, but he is totally out of his element on this political stage. Stick to selling books Mr. Carson. You're in the deep water now, it would be best for you to seek the shore before drowning! As mentioned earlier, Carson proved last night he is still not ready for prime time!
Ted Cruz certainly made his mark. Not sure what it really was, but his defiance seems to resonate with those that support Trump. Calling Mitch McConnell a liar and refusing to apologize might work for some supporters, but he is too extreme to win. Nothing he said during the debate was of substance. Repeal and replace Obamacare. With what? "I have a plan!" But it sure is a secret plan. Every time I see Cruz I can't help but see Joe McCarthy. Someone should superimpose their faces atop each other. I bet it would be a close match. And his voice...a screeching ouch!
Mike Huckabee remains dedicated to citing the Constitution while ignoring it at the same time. He dismisses the role of the Supreme Court while demanding Jesus dictate our Bill of Rights. Fox will have him back at his low ratings show before too much longer.
Donald Trump remained entertaining. I couldn't help but wonder whether he has studied Saturday Night Live skits for his television persona or whether his hair spray makes him wince so much under the bright lights. Like a super-nova, I expect his candidacy to "burn out" sooner rather than later - but his "brand" will be worth millions more as a result.
Which leaves me to John Kasich. Kasich is slick. He continued to separate himself from the field by talking about his faith and the need to work with the unfortunate and disadvantaged. He also resonates with Moderates because he has actual credentials from serving in Washington and running the Swing-State of Ohio. But don't be fooled. Kasich is a "dyed in the wool" Conservative and the GOP better start looking closer at him as a legitimate contender for their nomination.
The biggest winner? Fox News. According to multiple sources, Fox News drew over 24 Million viewers to the debates. Although it got a bit tedious, the made for television event was at time entertaining and some of the "give and take" was fun to watch. Unfortunately, nothing other than slamming Trump, Obama and Clinton came out from this event - which was to be expected. Did this show influence the view of the GOP base towards any particular candidate? Doubtful. But remember folks, the fun is only beginning. And don't think I am giving Clinton a pass. The Democrats weren't on the stage, the Republicans were.
As President Calvin Coolidge once wrote; "If you see ten troubles coming down the road, you can be sure that nine will run into the ditch before they reach you." I wonder if he had these ten declared GOP candidates in mind? It will be a fun ride determining who will be the GOP nominee for President. Have a great week!