The first chance we had to see the key occupants of the Republican clown car in a single forum didn’t disappoint. It was well run (not a small feat considering there were 10 people on stage), the grandstanding was minimized, we got to see some hand to hand combat and most importantly, it was informative – we got to learn more about almost all of the candidates to understand who Hillary will stomp next fall.
For me, almost everyone came off with a worse impression than what I came in with.
- Marco Rubio, the Cuban Matt Damon, just looked like a nervous school kid giving his first oral book report. If his goal was to appear “presidential” (or even confident enough to address my daughter’s first grade class) he failed most severely.
- Jeb (or should I say J.E.B.?) came off like a sweet grandfather, a bit too wishy washy and not particularly assertive. Moreover, he never felt like he engaged with the audience, it always felt like he was reading from a canned speech.
- Ted Cruz came off as a smug sack of shit. I wanted to smack him each time I saw his face.
- Chris Christie didn’t go as far as to pull a Giuliani (I’d like to start by saying 9/11. Please don’t forget 9/11. Also there’s 9/11 and of course 9/11. In conclusion, 9/11) but he came close. And while the phrase “I’m the only guy on this stage who…” was used by almost everyone, he chose to make it annoying by repeating it to death.
- While I think it is cool that someone who hasn’t had a career in politics thinks he can be president, Ben Carson shows that is is not particularly realistic. He is a terrible public speaker – he was stiff, stilted and boring. His statements were either horribly generic (“the baton of freedom”) or just weird/out of touch (seriously, tithing??). The press gave him good marks for his closing statement, but it just came off as dumb to me. Sure he’s smart and has lots of unique experiences that nobody else has, but I’m just not convinced that separating Siamese twins is a useful skill for a president to have.
- I am not sure if J.E.B. used too much Old Spice or Scott Walker had really bad BO but the expression on Trump’s face was classic – his lip was permanently curled like someone just farted. Honestly tho, he was a real downer to listen to. Every statement of his was about how we were doing it all wrong wrong wrong and how we are on the path to ruin. Even if I didn’t think he was a jackass to begin with, this would have been a real turn-off.
Now for the most part when Trump says the Fox moderators “don’t like him very much” or “asked some mean questions” I would write it off as whining. But I will say that that there was something to it this time. I mean, the moderators opened with a statement clearly designed to call Trump and only Trump out (the pledge to support the winner and not run as a third party candidate). And if that wasn’t telling, the commentary after the debate certainly was. The moderators all made it very clear that they want nothing to do with Trump being in this race.
The one thing I will say that to Trump’s credit tho, everyone on that stage was rich, but he was the only one to not trying to convince us how he was the most “middle class” guy in the room.
For me, John Kasich emerged as the surprise winner. He was engaging, passionate, had a real track record and was reasonably moderate. Am sure that last reason will be his downfall in the primaries but of this lot, he is someone who I would seriously consider voting for.