This was a real debate
I said before the debate that voters are going to begin to demand more substance as we move into 2016, and tonight’s debate certainly gave the candidates the opportunity to give it to them. The narrow focus of the debate allowed the candidates to get their hands dirty on substantive foreign and national security issues. CNN did it’s best to pit the candidates against each other, but after all, the point of debates is to allow each candidate differentiate him or herself from the other.
Jeb Bush had a breakout night; Rubio and Christie more than held their own
For the first time in the campaign, Jeb Bush came out swinging against Trump and did so effectively. Quite possibly the best line of the night went to Governor Bush when he told the real estate mogul that he “couldn’t insult his way to the presidency.” This was a big step for Bush and a signal that his campaign is ready to start playing tough. Truly a break out night for the former Florida Governor, who demonstrated knowledge, depth, toughness, and spirit and was effective in eviscerating Trump’s bombastic and unrealistic proposals. Christie and Rubio also held their own last night, looking poised and confident throughout the debate.
Trump took a hit
Any fall for Trump is surely to be gradual and not sudden, but there’s no question that he was outshined by the more seasoned pols on the stage last night. Trump seemed caught off guard when asked to about the “nuclear triad,” a mistake that Senator Rubio seized upon immediately. Trump isn’t leaving the picture anytime soon, and he likely did what he had to do to keep his spot atop the polls, at least for now.
Leadership will be essential in 2016
The current state of world affairs is going to require candidates to demonstrate that they are capable of being Commander in Chief, which will require making quick and decisive decisions. Christie shined in a moment following an exchange between Senators Rubio and Cruz, and scored points with his emphasis on action over the Senators pontificating. My prediction is that this will continue to play a major role, and those with executive experience will start to outshine the less experienced candidates in the race.
Still a long way to go until election day
In the last debate of 2015, we’re reminded that we still have a long way to go before primary voting starts and even longer before the general election. There’s still plenty of time left for candidates to make their case, and some voters are just beginning to tune in. We have a great group of candidates and we are in store for an exciting election year in 2016.