Last night was the most fun I can remember watching a political debate since Chris Matthews moderated the Charlie Crist-Jim Davis-Max Linn Florida gubernatorial debate in 2006. Anyone remember that?
Let’s face it, if the same tough questions were asked by moderators at MSNBC, CNN, Univision or any of the major broadcast networks, the story of the morning (besides whatever Donald Trump did) from Republicans would be how unfair the liberal media was. As it stands, some conservatives on my Twitter feed were upset with Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace’s questions.
The debate began with an electrifying beginning: in a question aimed directly at Trump, Bret Baier asked the candidates to raise their hand and vow that if they didn’t win the nomination, they would back the party’s choice.
Obviously, Donald Trump wasn’t going to play that game, and proudly raised his hand, knowing that he’d pay a price for it, with many Republicans worrying that he’ll go third-party and “give the election to Hillary Clinton.”
But as the Donald said this morning on MSNBC, what if the nominee isn’t Hillary Clinton?
OK, I don’t want to get all into that — first things first. But seriously, this assumption that Hilary Clinton is going to be our next president is losing altitude. The FBI now says they are conducting an investigation regarding her emails.
So the conventional wisdom is this: Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Carly Florina were the big winners.
My take? I feel that Fiorina’s performance is being a bit overrated, but only because the bar was set artificially low for her. When I went to the First in the Nation Summit in Nashua, N.H., back in April, there were two Republicans who stood out for me, just in terms of their pure presence: Ted Cruz and Fiorina. She is very talented on the stump. Perhaps because that first debate was otherwise so desultory, her performance stood out even more. She’s a good candidate, and if more people know that today than yesterday, then she obviously did herself well. But some of the hyperbole among media types seems a bit exaggerated.
Rubio has always had the chops: that’s why he’s gone so far at the relatively tender political age of 44. His campaign has been hemorrhaging in recent weeks — hell, months. His poll numbers should turn around, and get himself back in the game.
I’ve found some pundits to be a little condescending to John Kasich since he entered the race a few weeks ago. Some analysts have floated a Jeb Bush-Kasich ticket as being a winning formula. But why Bush-Kasich? Why not Kasich-Bush? Look, the Ohio governor has said explicitly that he didn’t think he’d even run because he thought Bush would run away with it all. That hasn’t happened. Kasich is pretty solidly conservative on a number of issues, but he’s moderate enough on others to be a very real contender to win over the country. Look, Rubio may be a better “natural” candidate than Kasich, but Kasich is closer to where the American public is on the issues.
Scott Walker said he was “aggressively normal.” Translated: boring.
Jeb Bush? Getting hammered by some in the press for being just OK. Life’s hard for a (presumptive) front-runner.
Chris Christie made the most of his time on stage. Can he make a comeback?
Let’s all keep some perspective. It’s the summer of 2015. Sorry to repeat this line, but it was almost four years ago to the day that Michele Bachmann won the Iowa Straw Poll. We’re a long way away from the caucuses and primaries. Unfortunately, we’re also more than a month away from the next debate, to be held at the Reagan Library in Southern California.
In other news..
While the country was watching the first of the Republican presidential debates last night in Cleveland, the Democratic National Committee announced that after having more than 20 debates in 2007-2008, they’ll have a grand total of six, which has outraged both Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, both of whom claim it’s a setup job for Hillary Clinton.
Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lead the field in people asking, “What the hell happened to him?” Rubio is trailing Donald Trump in a new poll in Florida by 20 points.
The Tampa City Council and members of the public who spoke at yesterday’s council meeting seem determined to create a civilian review police board, but lots of questions remain about how it will be assembled and who will choose its members.