I am once again undertaking to provide scores for the Republican Debate, this time sponsored by Fox News in Detroit. This was the 11th in the series, the moderators were Megan Kelly, Brett Baier, and Chris Wallace. As always, this is not about the issues, this is about how I judge the debate in terms of how it will affect their campaigns.
I’m not sure what happened here. In the first half of the debate, the questions seemed to center around Mitt Romney’s speech this morning attacking Trump. This led to a great amount of focus on his business problems over his career. In my opinion, the time would have been better spent on policy issues.
No issues between Trump and Megyn Kelly this time.
Trump +1 – Donald Trump was attacked ruthlessly by Rubio, who frequently spoke over top of Trump, which Trump returned. My only impression, can’t really put my finger on it, but Trump did seem a bit more human and thoughtful during the debate (when he had a chance to talk!).
Trump has shown himself to be tough and even-keeled. Even though the attacks were brutal and purposely annoying (probably kind of like having an echo on the telephone), I still perceived him to be the same Trump. I gave him only one point because he really won’t be helped much by this. But he had much to lose and he didn’t.
Rubio -5 – Senator Marco Rubio contradicted himself, saying he would not engage in personal attacks and yet engaged in it relentlessly. It was plainly obvious his objective was to disrupt Trump, as was the case in the last debate.
It was said after the previous debate that undecided voters were going to Cruz and Rubio instead of Trump. So apparently Rubio has determined this is a good strategy.
However in my opinion, this made him look weak and immature. Perhaps this is part of an overall strategy, and perhaps this is his way of running interference for Cruz. But I am now questioning my previous opinion that he might run for Governor of Florida should his bid not be successful.
Cruz +2 – Senator Ted Cruz managed to attack but without losing his decorum like Rubio did. While I don’t believe he distinguished himself more than usual, he did appear to be above the Rubio/Trump fray. This was a decent performance for him.
Kasich +4 – Kasich was polished and logical, once again the “adult” on the stage. I believe he did a great job, but he does not have the momentum at this point to improve his position. Unfortunately, I suspect he will still finish last in Saturday’s primaries. It will be tough for him to turn this around in the next month to get any kind of momentum for the primary.