It is starting to get hot on the Republican Primary campaign trail as the top tier of candidates solidify their support for the upcoming caucus in Iowa. In an effort to cull the herd of hopefuls, the Republican National committee has scheduled a gauntlet of debates that has become more about attrition than policy discussion.
What gave this debate a more interest than some of the others was its proximity to the Iowa Caucus on the campaign calendar. At least four or five of the candidates in this debate field probably won’t be on the debate stage next time around. So for some it was an audition for Vice President while others made a last attempt at shoring up support in hopes of a surprise showing in Iowa or New Hampshire.
The two front runners earned that title as they traded barbs and held off attacks by some of the other candidates. Pundits questioned whether Donald Trump would be able to stand up to the increased scrutiny that would come with fewer candidates on the main debate stage. The Donald answered the call with a solid response on the trade war with China while refusing to back down on his controversial stand against Muslims.
Mr. Trump might have had the line of the night when he asked if he was angry. Trump replied my saying that “I will wear the mantle of anger”, a line that will score big points with his base of support.
Senator Ted Cruz also had a big night. He successfully fended off questions about his birth status and recent stories about mishandled campaign filings. He also was successful in restating his position on National Defense and earned some cheers from the crowd when he talked about how he would have handled the recent capture of American Sailors.
Dr. Ben Carson had another lack luster GOP debate performance which was highlighted by his complaints that he wasn’t getting enough airtime. Carson failed to cover any new ground and stayed away from the serious policy debates about taxes and the trade deficit.
Jeb Bush was also largely ineffective using the same tired talking points that have him dropping in the polls. Bush keeps floating a message that is just not getting any traction leaving some to wonder why he is still in the race.
What We Learned
During and exchange Senator Ted Cruz suggested that Donald Trump might make a good Vice President on his ticket. Trump said that he would probably “go back to building buildings if this doesn’t work out.”
As far as potential Vice Presidents two candidate stood apart in tonight’s GOP debate. Carly Fiorina showed off the impressive debate and interview skills that could be an asset on the campaign trail. John Kasich solid answers on policy and strong track record as Ohio governor make him a strong VP choice.