The fifth GOP Presidential Debate is in the books, and it was quite a battle. The central battle was between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and I think Ted Cruz came out on top. Rubio continued to try and paint Ted Cruz as weak on national security, which is laughable on its face. Cruz responded to the attack by going right at Marco Rubio’s greatest weakness – his support in 2013 for the “Gang of 8″ Amnesty Bill he helped push with Democrat Chuck Schumer.
Cruz linked national security with Border Security and effectively destroyed Rubio’s attack.
— Wayne Dupree™ (@WayneDupreeShow) December 16, 2015
Here is how I would rate the nine candidates in this debate:
1. Ted Cruz – He had a great night. As described above, Cruz effectively blunted Marco Rubio’s attack and turned it on him.
2. Chris Christie – Very strong and stood out as the viable Governor alternative to Trump, Cruz, and Rubio. Had a very “can-do” spirit.
3. Donald Trump – Much more low-key than usual. Didn’t really fight with people, other than slapping down Jeb Bush’s repeated attempts at trying to make himself look high-energy and tough. I can’t see where Trump did anything to hurt himself in this debate. Since he’s the frontrunner, that’s a big win in and of itself.
4. Jeb Bush – He actually had a fairly good night. I think he helped himself. Looked much stronger and gave the impression he had a plan to deal with ISIS. But, at times, he seemed to be trying too hard.
5. Marco Rubio – Had a great opening statement, and some good exchanges during the debate. But in the end, his carefully planned attacks on Ted Cruz fell flat, and he was faced with his worst nightmare – being continually linked with open borders and amnesty. He gambled in 2013 that he could come away as the Republican who helped give amnesty to millions of illegals. At the time, he thought that would be a winning issue. Now, it’s his greatest weakness. He’s trying mightily to overcome it, but Republican voters have not forgotten. We’ll see if he’s successful in the end.
6. Carly Fiorina – Had some strong moments but didn’t seem at the center of most discussions. I can’t see her moving up because of this debate.
7. John Kasich – A better night for him. He was not the rude interrupter he was in the last debate. Kasich might get a bump in New Hampshire out of this, but it’s hard to see where else he can do well.
8. Rand Paul – He continues to show he is very much like his father. He has been decimated by Donald Trump. Paul was going to be the outsider in the race – he’s not. The rise of ISIS and the threat of Islamic terrorism keeps Paul’s message from resonating with many GOP voters.
9. Ben Carson – Trying hard to display Foreign Policy chops, but it’s just not working. Carson is a great man, but he’s not coming across as strong enough, or really capable of expressing himself coherently on most Foreign Policy issues.
Check out the top moments here:
Moving forward, I think you will see Trump remain strong nationally. Cruz is strong in Iowa, but whether that will translate into other states is remains unseen. Rubio will remain a strong third and Carson will continue to fade, helping both Cruz and Trump. I think Chris Christie is going to move up – perhaps in New Hampshire strongly. It appears to be a 5-6 person race now – Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Christie, Bush, and Carson. Bush had his best performance tonight, and may be poised to move up some. January is going to be a crazy month, as the Iowa voting looms February 1!
If you watched the debates, what did you think of it? Do you agree with my analysis? Share your comments below.