Analysis of the Republican CNBC Debate: Who Won? Who Lost? How Bad Were The Moderators?

Analysis of the Republican CNBC Debate: Who Won? Who Lost? How Bad Were The Moderators?

The CNBC debate was a debacle from start to finish. Bizarrely, it even started 15 minutes late.


The debate, which was supposed to be focused on economics, opened up with a round of insulting questions that continued FOR A SOLID HOUR and then intermittently after that.

The overwhelming hostility of the moderators made it a difficult environment to operate in and only a few people did really well. Starting with…. 1) Ted Cruz: The attack Cruz unleashed on the moderators was straight out of the Newt Gingrich style of media-fu and he was solid for the rest of the debate. Expect Cruz to get a bump in the polls out of that performance.


2) Marco Rubio: Even though Rubio got a number of tough questions, he was consistently good at turning them around and using them to score points. It was a strong performance for him. He also went toe-to-toe with Jeb on the number of days he’s missed in the Senate and won the exchange with ease.

3) Chris Christie: Christie is always hard to score because like Huckabee, he’s consistently good in these debates, but it doesn’t seem to help his standing. Tonight, Christie was particularly strong. He sounded good, chastised the moderators, sounded great on cops and slapped Jeb Bush on fantasy football of all things.

Those three candidates MAY have helped themselves and all three of them (You never know about Christie) may get a bump in the polls out of their performances.

After the top performers came….

4) Mike Huckabee: Huckabee has lot of charisma and sounded good, but for whatever reason he just does not seem to connect with the audience. That’s probably not fair, but it’s what keeps happening.

5) Carly Fiorina: If you go by expectations, Fiorina, who is thought of as strong debater, underperformed. However, Fiorina really wasn’t particularly good or particularly bad; she was just there. She had an “okay” night.

6) Donald Trump: Trump, being Trump showed some flashes of personality and sounded good on gun free zones. He also absolutely eviscerated John Kasich when he made the mistake of attacking him. However, at times he still does not seem to get specific enough on some of his policies. He also got caught in what sounded like an embarrassing lie.

Donald Trump denied Wednesday evening in the CNBC debate that he called Marco Rubio “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal senator” due to his support for H-1B work visas.

“I never said that. I never said that,” Trump said, accusing the moderator of doing “some bad fact-checking.”

In fact, the following sentence is in the immigration blueprint released mid-August on Trump’s campaign website: “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.”

I like Trump a lot, but he made a big deal out of saying that he didn’t say that — and he did — AND he got called on it DURING THE DEBATE. Granted, the ridiculous levels on hostility towards him by the moderators was unfair, but ultimately, the lack of specificity and telling what sounded like a fib hurt him more than the moderators or his opponents.

7) Rand Paul: Rand wasn’t as bad as he was in previous debates (I chalk that up to the fact that he didn’t tangle with Trump), but he didn’t say anything to catch anyone’s attention. Honestly, he was just kind of dull and wonkish. Even on a question about auditing the Fed, which he should own, Ted Cruz sounded better.

8) Ben Carson: Ben Carson has a very slow, sleepy speaking style that helps him come across as thoughtful and serious in person, but just doesn’t play well in these debates. Unfortunately, he just seems a little outmatched in the charisma department when he’s on the stage with a lot of big personalities.

9) John Kasich: Kasich started off by going after Trump and as you’d expect, Trump beat his brains in. Beyond that, Kasich sounded even more arrogant, grating & unlikable than normal tonight.

10) Jeb Bush: Jeb always comes across like someone who’s a little out of his league in these debates. He doesn’t seem comfortable on stage, he’s not very eloquent and he doesn’t have great political instincts.

Just to give you an example, the moderators went after Rubio for missing a lot of days in the Senate while he’s running for President. Rubio handled the question artfully, had the crowd on this side and then…..Jeb attacked him on the same issue. Predictably, Rubio won the exchange decisively.

Later on, Jeb again criticized the idea of building a wall on our southern border and noted that he thought fantasy football should be regulated. FANTASY FOOTBALL. Chris Christie took that opportunity to smash him on the issue. This is what Jeb’s performance overall was like…

Summary: Cruz, Rubio and Christie should get a boost at the polls. Carson and Trump MAY lose some steam (It’s hard to tell with those two). To be honest, given where their campaigns are and how poor their debate performances have been, Jeb, Kasich and Rand should all consider dropping out of the race.

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