Trump’s absence led to a more substantive debate
It was abundantly clear that throughout last night’s debate that the “elephant not in the room,” as Megan Kelly put it, allowed the candidates to have a much more substantive debate. The conversation was more focused, nuanced, and lacked the kind of ad hominem attacks that have dominated previous debates. We’ll have to wait and see whether Trump’s snub of the last debate before Iowans go to caucus on Monday will have any affect, but my intuition tells me it could hurt him.
Jeb had another strong debate
Governor Bush had another impressive debate, coming across strong and confident during an exchange with his in state rival, Senator Marco Rubio. Rubio, in his own right, had a good debate, but Bush appeared to get the best of him during an exchange between the two over immigration policy. Governor Bush is playing for the long haul, and more debates like this one can reassure voters and core supporters that he’s here to stay, and that he’s in this race to win.
The Governors once again showed the importance of executive leadership
Governors Christie and Kaisich both demonstrated to voters the importance of executive leadership. Christie showed his uncanny ability to deliver a one liner and highlighted his leadership style after an exchange between Senators Rubio and Cruz, saying that as governor you “can’t hide behind parliamentary tricks.” Kaisich did a good job laying out his resume and experience, and when pressed, was able to defend his decision to expand Medicaid during his time as governor.
Hillary Clinton remains focus for GOP
Democrat Bernie Sanders may be the current front runner in the Hawkeye State, but that didn’t stop nearly all of the candidates from calling out Hillary Clinton and making the case for why they are best suited to beat her in the general election. Rubio did an exceptionally good job of contrasting himself to the former Secretary of State by hinting at what many observers see as his biggest upside: his electability in a general election.
The moderators had a great night
All of last night’s moderators did a fantastic job, especially Megan Kelly who continued to ask serious and substantive questions to all of the candidates, despite criticism from the front runner who held his own event just five miles down the road. The video montage played back to Senators Rubio and Cruz regarding their past statements on immigration policy clearly had an effect on them, and played a fantastic visual for voters curious about where the candidates stand on the issues. Another well played debate by Fox News gave voters what they deserved: a serious conversation about the issues.