A bit of analysis on each of the candidates.
John Kasich. For a guy who barely squeaked into the festivities, he made use of every opportunity to speak. He was on his home court and he may be way too moderate these days to win, but I thought he had some of the best moments of the night. WINNER.
Donald Trump. He didn’t implode but he didn’t give in and play cautious either. Showed skill at avoiding the clear attwcks on him, showed dexterity in his comments, and even showed sympathy for Rand Paul while insulting him (accurately). WINNER.
Rand Paul. Never came close to establishing his libertarian bona fides. Got attacked, didn’t respond all that well, then lost interest in the latter portion of the evening. LOSER.
Jeb Bush. Had a few decent moments early, then disappeared for the last half of the debate. At one point I thought he’d snuck out for a bathroom break. No verbal gaffes, but no great moment either, and he needed something to break Trump’s momentum. Didn’t happen. MIXED.
Scott Walker. Wasn’t impressed. Stiff and wooden. Felt like he was reading his lines too much. Came across poorly, then - like Bush - disappeared for 45 minutes. No good lines that I recall. LOSER.
Mike Huckabee. Had a good night. Said some very scary things about constitutional law and foreign policy, but got back to the 2008 guy by doing it all with a smile and a quip. Liked his fake attack on Trump that pivoted to Hillary. Funny and effective all at once. WINNER.
Ben Carson. Wooden, but did have the good line “glad I get to talk again” after being ignored for 20 minutes. Other than that, was clearly the guy who most avoided actually answering any of the questions. MIXED.
Marco Rubio. Supposedly a world class debater, I wasn’t impressed. Can’t remember much of he’s the said, although I liked his defense of his thin resume. Being a governor or executive is not a requirement although it certainly doesn’t hurt. Chris Cillizza of the Post liked his performance so he checked the conventional wisdom box, which I wouldn’t exactly be bragging about, but there it is. LOSER.
Ted Cruz. Was waiting for Trump to implode so he could pick up some voters. Didn’t happen. Didn’t have much to say otherwise. MIXED.
Chris Christie. Was appropriately feisty and didn’t come off as a jerk. That’s good. Overplayed the 9/11 card, which is entirely too 2008. Like others, he disappeared for long stretches, particularly in the second hour. No breakthrough moments but didn’t hurt himself either. MIXED.
What’d you think?