Last night, CNN hosted yet another entertaining Republican primary debate. Here is how the remaining candidates fared:
Senator Marco Rubio
Rubio quickly made an impression with his consistent attacks on Donald Trump. Rubio managed to visibly rattle Trump in an exchange in which Rubio accused Trump of repeating the same phrase about removing state borders for healthcare in order to decrease the price of health insurance. It was a bold move that ironically mirrored Rubio’s damaging exchange with Chris Christie in an earlier debate. But by doing so, Rubio managed to seem self-effacing as he poked fun at himself. Rubio also successfully attacked Trump on issues like healthcare and Israel while still appearing to keep the moral high ground.
Initially, Trump seemed taken aback by Rubio’s confident and competent attacks, but, ever unflappable, he seemed to recover quickly. Trump stuck to his guns on the utility of Planned Parenthood (bans abortion services) and his (somewhat) objective stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in order to better be able to negotiate a solution. Overall, Trump was Trump. Light on specifics, heavy on “great” promises, and unapologetic about his less than consistent record as a conservative.
Senator Ted Cruz
Cruz seemed to shrink back in the earlier exchanges between Trump and Rubio, but when Cruz did get more involved he spent a good amount of time attacking Trump’s not so stellar conservative credentials, accusing Trump of supporting socialized medicine and not being sufficiently pro-Israel. Cruz also seemed at times like the odd man out in the very aggressive back and forth between Rubio and Trump. Trump parried accusations with his usual abrasiveness, and Rubio actually seemed to be enjoy going on the offensive, but Cruz seemed stiff and frustrated by the lack of decorum. On the other hand, Cruz’s legal sensibilities served him well in his response about how Apple should comply with a court order concerning a phone connected to the San Bernadino shooters. Cruz may also see an increase in support after an endorsement from a character even more universally well-liked than him
Governor John Kasich
In keeping with his strategy throughout the campaign, Kasich tried to portray himself as above the fray that embroiled Trump, Rubio, and Cruz. Kasich stressed the importance of economic issues like job creation, balancing the budget, and lower taxation. In one of the more interesting exchanges of the night, Kasich was asked a question about religious liberty and same-sex marriage. Kasich responded by basically suggesting that business people should stick to business and say a prayer for people instead of denying customers their goods and services based on their sexual orientation.
But as my good friend Boromir says
Carson got limited speaking time and when he could finally speak, he sometimes tried to cram answers to earlier questions into one response. And in a particularly problematic metaphor, he seemed to liken America to the parent of Israel and in the same way that a parent favors their own child over a child that is not theirs, America should favor Israel over Palestine. I think.
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