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Republican Debate – the Most Brutal Yet!

Republican Debate – the Most Brutal Yet!

In the most brutal of Republican debates, last night’s ABC sponsored show marked perhaps a shift in the balance of power, something Donald Trump must fix to keep his lead.

The other candidates for the first time seemed on par with Donald Trump, with not quite the fear and awe of previous encounters. 

The audience was rowdy with clear partisan groupings (apparently only donors to campaigns) who felt free to boo at inopportune times. This is a major factor in the success of candidates’ responses, since it flavors the emotions of the broader television audience.

Trump had no supporters in the audience because he is self-funded, and that effect was felt on national television.  If he is smart, he will demand changes in the audience structure.

Trump -4  – For the first time, I saw Donald Trump rattled. His “smooshing” technique no longer works and other candidates felt free to talk over him.  He was attacked frequently by Rubio, Cruz and Jeb, sometimes in ganged attacks and some of his defenses were booed by the partisan audience.

Jeb’s statement “While Donald Trump was building a reality show, my brother was building a national security apparatus..” was very effective.

Trump eventually smoothed out and he regained his composure and a certain control in the proceedings. I do not believe he will lose support immediately based on this performance, but as mentioned above the change in power balance should be of great concern to him.  Therefore he gets negative points.

Cruz -2 – Senator Ted Cruz was polished and confident and has his issue statements in good form.  However in this debate he was called a liar by both Trump and Rubio, remarks I believe hit home with the audience

Rubio accused Cruz of not speaking Spanish, after which he promptly started speaking Spanish. This could have been a bad moment for Cruz but he successfully defended it. Apparently this is the first time anyone has heard him speak Spanish.

Outside of the debate arena, Cruz is becoming more expert in delivering his message, but I believe the performance was a net loss for him because of the accusations of lying, and I believe he did defend them effectively.

Rubio +1  – Senator Marco Rubio was strong and confident and had none of the awkward moments from the last debate. I do not believe Rubio will lose votes based on this performance, but he wasn’t the star.

His awkwardness in the previous debate certainly hurt him, this performance may help him turn that around a bit.

Jeb  +6 –   Jeb was fiery, taking on Trump in shouting matches and actually winning in many cases. This was his best performance by far in my opinion and should help him in South Carolina, where he has a good organization.

In my mind, knowing Bush can perform this well makes me wonder why he was so unprepared before. But this was excellent and with his financial backing, it should push him up in South Carolina.

Kasich  +3  –  Governor Kasich had some very good and moments, established himself as above the fray. His “calm down” moment made him seem ‘parental’ in my view, an interesting advantage that could serve him well.  I was hoping for a bit more but this was a decent performance. He was not effectively attacked (all attacks deftly defended).

Yesterday’s latest poll has him in second place behind Trump, which we have predicted. However three polls in two days have been wildly divergent.

This performance gives him a shot in South Carolina, we will see if he can muster the funds and the campaign organization to take second place.

Carson -2 – Dr. Ben Carson still seems a little bit tentative, more confident than in his last debate but his answers are a bit awkward sometimes. I gave him minus points because he hasn’t helped himself. We predicted in November his campaign would go into free fall.  It has, and nothing here will rescue him.


Time to express my opinion on the candidates. This has not been my practice, but why not? (These do NOT constitute endorsements, and I reserve the right to adjust my opinions based on future candidate exposures and antics.)

It makes me very nervous when Senator Cruz, a senator with no administrative experience suggests he will shut down the IRS and institute a flat tax. While the theory and the plan are reasonable and very attractive, I believe it hasn’t been properly analyzed and no one in Washington DC is smart enough to know all of the potential points of failure.  The transition would likely be a trainwreck.

While I agree with many of his positions, and I believe he would indeed get the wall built, his confrontational manner could bring progress to a halt.

Cruz, in facing Putin, would be effective but perhaps with diminished effectiveness since he is less experienced at representing all of America. His intentions are true, but he makes me nervous.

Donald Trump has been criticized for his rhetoric, and his simplistic manner is often attacked by the pundits as ignorant. I am not fooled, Trump is an experienced media personalit. He knows he is talking to a low information voter population and the polls say he is reaching them.  

Trump still seems to be on the track I most agree with, and in my mind he is the most capable of carrying through. The pundits never seem to understand that, whatever you think of his communications skills, this is the most competent and capable candidate in bringing his actions to fruition.  I believe he will carry through in making trade deals, building the border wall and finding ways to increase prosperity, and he will indeed make America great again.  

My issue with Trump is he hasn’t been around long enough to have thought thoroughly about many issues.  For example in last night’s debate, it was disturbing he was not willing to say he would reduce entitlements. I got the feeling he was not ready for the question. 

However Trump is very experienced in picking advisors and has access to some of the greatest minds and greatest negotiators in the worlds. No other candidate can build this kind of team.  When facing down Putin, it would be a show, and Trump would dominate. If elected, I believe there is an 80% chance he will do what he says he will do and 20% chance he will be a train wreck. It’s worth the risk.

Jeb Bush is well loved in Florida, and very capable, and with a couple of exceptions he would perform effectively as President. But I do not believe he will seal the border as he says, he certainly won’t build the border wall.

I also listen with dismay when Bush talks about the Patriot Act and security. To me it seems he is very willing to trade privacy for security a huge mistake.  Ben Franklin Quotes. “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” In my mind Bush is too willing to give up essential liberties. The latest incarnation of Bush (last night’s version) would have no problem facing down Putin.

John Kasich is a capable man, and I believe would make a fine President, my number two choice.  He has yet to say anything offensive but I do not believe he will solve illegal immigration.

On the other hand, he has a history of solving big problems and he understands deficits. He seems to be concerned about illegal drugs and has opinions there that I share (I’m former intel officer, worked in part in crime and counternarcotics).

He seems to have a way of listening and being compassionate on race issues and such, without buying into destructive rhetoric. This is an important skill.  

He would go face to face with Putin and be effective.

I don’t know enough about all of his intended policies to make criticisms, but I’m excited that he has reach second place in New Hampshire, and in at least one poll in South Carolina.

Marco Rubio is well spoken and intelligent, but I don’t believe he will build the wall nor solve the immigration problem in a satisfactory way. I don’t think Rubio can face down Putin, and he still seems too young to be President.

I believe his views on encouraging family values are the best in the field and I would be pleased to have him as governor of Florida.  After this he will be a great future President. But I believe his lack of leadership experience would make him an ineffective President. On the other hand, Rubio is wicked smart, and I would be comfortable he would not trash the country as Obama has done.

Ben Carson is a great guy, but is not ready to be President in my view. He would not be able to face down Putin and he would be at the mercy of his advisors on many important issues. Since he has no experience selecting advisors, I don’t have any confidence his Presidency would be effective.

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