This evening CNN hosted the second debates featuring the Republican candidates for President 2016. The field of 15 candidates (down from 17 at the first debates hosted by Fox News) were again divided into two separate debates. The earlier scheduled debate today presented 4 of the lowest polling candidates. Immediately following, the 11 highest polling candidates took the stage. I will review the later debate.
Presented in order of performance.
Fiorina came out the winner of the “lower tier” debate weeks ago, and now wins the big league debate. Strong performance. Well prepared. Unabashedly assertive, despite the moderator’s efforts to cut her off. Wonderfully passionate delivery about de-funding Planned Parenthood. (Made me cry.) Finished with iconic metaphors of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice, affirming America’s long-held embrace of the influence, power, and presence of women in America; an allusion perhaps to Fiorina herself carrying the torch and sword of power, principles, and beauty these icons represent. All she has to do yet is convince us she honestly means it from the bottom of her heart. She has time. If she can do that, she may be our next president; if not, she will certainly be our first woman vice president.
Strong performance. Same as before, but had more time in this debate. Rubio is walking the center line between Tea Party conservative and establishment Republican. He needs to decide who he is. He is struggling against his youthful lack of experience; it’s hurting him. He doesn’t understand the melting-pot concept of assimilation in America yet. Vice president at best. His time will come someday.
I’m not a Christie fan, but he did well tonight. Focused on the average working American. Keeping it real, and keeping it urgent. BIG win on choosing Abigail Adams as first woman whose portrait should grace a dollar bill (oh, how I wish Christie had explained to viewers why). Abigail is a heroine among our Founders! On the downside, CNN let Christie interrupt his way into getting more debate time than he should have been allotted.
Polished sincere responses. No less substantive than first debate. However, Cruz did not prepare well for the short 1 minute speaking format. Too long-winded for the format, and lost many important opportunities. Defend the Constitution, NOT your resume as a lawyer before the Supreme Court, Cruz! Do NOT make the debate about you; make your case for We the People.
No shining moment this time. For an outsider in politics you’ve got to be hitting double and triples to stay in the game. Mr. Carson, when I look at you I see a man through whom God can work. Be that man. You don’t have the power of a seasoned politician; you have only the power of God to rely upon to win. Tell us more how you see God in our nation’s founding and principles. Connect God to America—like your position on tithing and taxes. Be as bold about your faith as you are about your love of country. God is your greatest asset.
Next to Fiorina, Paul Ryan had the best come-from-behind performance. He helped himself with this debate. He was relaxed, reasonable, and honest. And non-confrontational, as befitting his character. He was more himself. Unfortunately, Ryan was left out of much of the debate time. But, he successfully moves on to the next debate.
Though Huckabee was allotted little debate time, he made the terrible mistake of defining himself too narrowly as the most conservative of the social conservatives. Plenty of time yet to do that. Despite many well-crafted responses, Huckabee lost the ground he gained in the first debate.
Better performance than last time. But, Jeb Bush would be sitting at #3 in my list if he had fiercely defended his brother’s (George W. Bush) honor against Trump’s insult. I mean REALLY defended his brother’s honor. Sadly, Jeb wasn’t up to the task. Other than that, Jeb made all the problems of America sound unsolvable by virtue of being too complex, too big, too unclear, too convoluted.
Walker simply does not sound disgusted enough with the status quo to do anything meaningful about it. Almost sounds like he enjoys sparring with his Leftist foes. Nothing looks are sounds urgent to this guy. He just doesn’t “get it” our nation, as it was founded, may not be recoverable beyond this election.
Kasich is doing a fine job of dodging and hiding his Progressive establishment roots. No one challenges him. He has a nice personable presence on stage. But, please, do not referee the other debaters—it’s awkward and patronizing.
Trump struggled this evening. Trump is struggling in the box he created for himself. Trump can only be Trump when he is strong, bold, honest, unafraid, unapologetic, and politically incorrect. Tonight he was weak, insincere, and apologetic.
(I’m not a Trump supporter. For many reasons. Here is one. Trump answered the question regarding his position ending anchor-baby citizenship. He said many many lawyers assure him the 14th Amendment does not defend anchor-baby citizenship. Senator Ryan agreed. And I agree. But here’s the rub. Why does Trump need a team of lawyers to assure him what the 14th Amendment says? Anyone who is running for President of the United States should at least be familiar enough with the Constitution and Bill of Rights to make their own conclusion. Goodness sakes, the Constitution is only 3 pages long!) But I’m damn glad Trump is in this race stickin’ it to the turncoat establishment Republicans!
As far as the debate format, moderators, and host network goes, I thought the debate was more professional than Fox News’ debate. Though I wish candidates had more than 1 minute to formulate their thoughts. Nice job, CNN.
Staging the debate in the hanger of the Ronald Reagan museum was brilliant. Thank you, Mrs. Reagan.
Oddly, with all candidates vying for the base “conservative” voters’ support in these early debates, almost nothing was said about the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers, or God. Kudos to Fiorina, Christie, and Ryan.