Scorecard on the GOP Debate

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

As usual, there are so many polls, opinions and scorecards examining who did well during last night’s Republican debate at the Reagan Library. Here are my takeaways – not so much on what happened but where things might lead after the debate performances.

Carly Fiorina impressed those voters looking for outsiders to run the government and she will move up at the expense of Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

Trump, however, probably didn’t damage himself with his base of support and will remain relatively steady although the establishment GOP will still search for ways to make him disappear.

Meanwhile, the establishment will remain splintered for the time being. Jeb Bush showed some spunk (Code name: Eveready) and might reassure his backers to a degree but the establishment is still wary about him. Ohio Gov. John Kasich held steady and could be around to emerge if Bush doesn’t catch fire. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie delivered another good debate performance but still will find himself stalled behind Bush and perhaps Kasich.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker did better than the first debate but will probably not move the needle much.

Marco Rubio showed good knowledge on foreign affairs and will remain in the multi-candidate fray to the end (whenever that may be.) He might also be setting himself up for a VP nod, depending how the primaries break.

Ted Cruz demonstrated his debating skills. He made sure he looked at the camera nearly all the time instead of looking at the questioners. Still, his strategy as the outsider working from the inside has the problem of Trump, Carson and now Fiorina blocking his path as true outsiders.

Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul showed that the GOP is certainly made up of different types but neither will break out to a wider audience with their performances.

The biggest move in the polls the next few days will belong to Carly Fiorina. Many of the debate watchers didn’t see her in the first round when she participated in the JV event.

I missed more questions from radio talk host and attorney, Hugh Hewitt, who along with CNN’s Dana Bash, had a subordinate role to CNN’s Jake Tapper on the moderator panel. Hewitt got into the politics of running for office and winning when he noted that Kasich didn’t seem to want to attack potential Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton whereas Fiorina would bring up Clinton without being asked.

Kasich explained people were still getting to know him so he was spending time explaining his record. Fiorina picked up on that saying she wanted to talk about records—Clinton’s—and attack it for lack of accomplishments.

At any rate, not enough time for Hewitt who I found was an excellent interviewer when he was one of the hosts as I did his Los Angeles PBS TV show, Life and Times, on numerous occasions in the 1990s.

That’s my reaction. There are many others, of course, from pundits and spinners. Old friends Mike Murphy and Todd Harris were firing off tweets and re-tweeting comments that supported their candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, respectively.

The three-hour debate was Lincoln-Douglas like in length if not in format. The Lincoln-Douglas debates also lasted three hours but had no back and forth arguments or a moderator attempting to gain control. Rather the first speaker talked for an hour, the second speaker for an hour-and-a-half and the first speaker came back for a 30-minute rejoinder.

Not exactly a made for television event.

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