Yet Another Republican Debate

I was in and out, catching parts of last night’s Republican debate. I missed what the media are assuring me today is the end of Marco Rubio’s campaign: when Chris Christie called him out for repeating the same canned talking points over and over and Rubio responded by … repeating his talking points.

Strictly on points, that was a big deal. Christie has been making this point for a while — and it’s a good one — that he (and Kasich and Bush) have a lot more experience in getting things done while Rubio (and Cruz) are mostly good at making speeches. Rubio does tend to fall back on canned speeches and his record of accomplishment is thin. He isn’t very good at improvising, something that has hurt him in direct interactions with voters and party stalwarts.

But …

This really crosses me as inside-the-beltway media stuff. I really don’t think the voting public is going to care very much whether Rubio is repeating himself. If this were debate club, Christie would have won, but it’s not. Repeating talking points is part of politics (Christie should know, as he never forgets to remind us that he was appointed as a federal prosecutor after 9/11). And Rubio gave an answer on abortion — talking about the rights of the woman the rights of the fetus being in contention — that was off the charts with conservatives in my Twitter feed. I disagree with Rubio on abortion, but his answer, pre-packaged or not, really resonated with GOP base. That’s what they’ll remember.

The other highlight was Jeb Bush finally landing a punch on Donald Trump. Bush hit the Donald hard on Trump’s abuse of eminent domain and the Donald had no answer, eventually turning on the audience as they booed him. I think the second place finish in Iowa and the leveling of the polls is getting to Trump. He’s still leading in New Hampshire, but if he loses, we could see an epic meltdown.

Overall, I think this is still a three-man race, with Christie as a possible dark horse should the leaders falter. I expect Trump to win New Hampshire. But the race is anyone’s to win right now.

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  1. WVRSpence

    Rubio’s responses made me wonder if he’d switched programming with Al Gore circa 2000.

    I do think Christie and the other govs came out strongest. The Donald seemed humbled by Bush’s frontal assault. But what was up with the walk-on?

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  2. repmom

    Walk-on.

    According to ABC, an acoustical issue. They couldn’t hear. But yeah, it seemed like a total fuck-up on their part, can’t even get the intros done correctly. But to their credit, I think it turned out to be a good debate, with pointed, important questions asked of all, for the most part.

    The governors shined on this night, for sure. Christie pounded Rubio, and I was disappointed in Rubio’s handling of it. But I thought Rubio did well the rest of the evening. As Hal says, agree or not with his views on abortion, he was strong on that and other issues. I would have liked to have seen him come back with more than talking points with Christie, but it didn’t change my support of him.

    Trump, in my mind, continued to show what a spoiled brat cry baby he is. Great job, Jeb. Cruz stayed solid, nothing great, but nothing to hurt him.

    A melt down by Trump? I would love to see that. Hope it happens.

    Tuesday should be interesting. Can’t wait.

    Oh….and…way to go Denver.

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  3. WVRSpence

    Per Drudge, Bush is now in second place in NH (!) His performance at the debate seems to have helped him.

    A Trump meltdown would be yuge.

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  4. repmom

    Unfortunately, no meltdown for Trump. Kudos to Kasich for second place. A good man. Not a great show for Rubio. Perhaps Christie’s pounding of him hurt, but it did no good for Christie himself, and I am glad of that. I’m tired of hearing his constant bashing of Rubio.

    Glad to see Sanders destroy Hillary. Did she blame right wing Republican for that, or did I hear her wrong?

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