Nikki Haley Wins GOP Debate

Election Tracker | Jeff Melsheimer | January 15, 2016

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A few nights ago, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union as acting president. Truth be told, I didn’t watch it. However, what I did later catch through Twitter was the GOP’s response delivered by Nikki Haley. For those who don’t know her, she is the governor of South Carolina and is an Indian-American woman. In her response, she criticized the anger and tone of the Republican candidates.

Her speech highly praised by members of her party, which leaves me wondering who dropped the ball in not asking her to run for presidential nomination? Why are they running angry old white men instead of a young, charismatic minority woman? Well, her name now is drawing much attention, as many Republicans believe she would make the perfect vice presidential running mate.

She has garnered so much attention that she was mentioned at last night’s Republican debate by Donald Trump. Despite reprimanding him, Trump endorsed Governor Haley as a friend of his. And when you bash the Donald and he turns around and pays you a compliment (is being Donald Trump’s friend a compliment?), I’d mark that up as a victory.

Last night, Fox Business hosted the first Republican debate of 2016 in Haley’s home state of South Carolina. It started the year right with a surprising dose of sanity. The highlight probably came when Senator Ted Cruz, who I think looks like a melting wax statue, bashed what he calls “New York values”, describing them as pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and pro-gun control. In other words, he hates that they are liberals. Trump refuted this claim with a heartfelt anecdote about New York’s response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11. He censured Cruz for his distaste of New Yorkers and praised the people saying “no place on Earth could have handled more beautifully, more humanely than New York”.

Other than Trump’s unexpected display on sanity, Trump arguably had his best showing out of all previous debates. And Cruz, too, did well despite being embarrassed by the Donald. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie performed well in trading punches with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and probably even came out on top as Rubio failed to garner as much attention as he did in previous debates.

Ben Carson continues to fall into irrelevance. After what seems like his entire campaign quit on him, his far too laid back/semi-stoner attitude didn’t help him stand out in a room of larger than life personalities. John Kasich, who I actually kind of liked, also failed to make any lasting mark. Jeb Bush was Jeb Bush (said some good stuff, that’s about it).

Donald Trump is still by some act of God still leading in the polls entering 2016, and this performance will only help his 34%. Next in the polls is Ted Cruz at roughly 20%, followed by Marco Rubio at 14%. These three appear to be the top three candidates for the GOP nomination.

Next debate will be held by Fox News in Iowa, where candidates take one step closer to getting the nomination on July 18th.