I don’t know if people will be talking about it in a month, but it was some solid TV watching. (And I will say as well that watching it with the Twitter whirling is really a treat. Awesome way to follow along.)
In any case, a few thoughts…
Because of the way they came in, regarding Winners and Losers, I’d say (and these have changed from my original thoughts on the Twitter):
Rubio — because he had the strongest showing, hadn’t really been in the news lately, and arguably got some points out of the whole thing.
Kasich — because he only joined the fray recently and this was an introduction to him for many (if not most). He wasn’t exactly electric, but he was solid.
Christie — because he had been lower in the polls ever since The Bridge, and this might have raised him a little.
These candidates all gave, at times, very good answers. But they also didn’t shine through to any huge extent. Their fans still like them. Their detractors still don’t. They likely didn’t gain or lose much from the undecideds. (This is without looking at any polling data, etc.)
Rand Paul — because while his fans will still like him, and he gave some good answers, and took on Trump early on, he also got zinged by Trump, and generally came across as the angry guy.
Trump — because he got hit early with the “3rd party run” question, the Rosie O’Donnell line, the threat to Megyn Kelly and the post-debate attacks on her, and being stumped on the “Mexican government” question (where the basis of his “proof” about the government sending illegals was talking to some border agents).
Sure Trump took a majority of the air time, and was the focus for much of the evening, but he likely lost many undecideds with his continued bombast. Drudge notwithstanding (and online polls are worse than useless), I cannot believe that LIKELY VOTERS came away from that and said, “I think Trump is my guy…”
That being said, I do think Trump’s 3rd party plan is this:
“You better nominate me. Because if you don’t, I will run as a 3rd party candidate, insuring that Hillary will win. And you’d rather have me than Hillary. So you better nominate me, or else.”
Of course, Trump may just be bluffing.
(And will a voter really take that into account in the booth?)
But no one thinks Trump is NOT crazy enough to do it.
And the real winner of the night?
If you missed the Happy Hour debate, you saw that while she wasn’t exactly head-and-shoulders above the others (Rick Perry was very good as well), she was Rubio-level and “won”, if you had to pick a winner.
She would have likely been good in the Prime Time debate as well, but being one of seven, instead of ten, probably helped.
But if there was any doubt how good she can be, Chris Matthews helped prove it. If you missed her on MSNBC post-debate, you should definitely watch here:
She absolutely slams BOTH Hillary AND Matthews. It was like a deft pool shot where she knocks them both in.
More time will tell how she converts that performance into a Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. But if she doesn’t gain the nomination, she is in the driver’s seat for VP.
And what do you think?
Will Trump’s bombast last?
Can Fiorina make the leap?
Will Rubio’s or Kasich’s performance convince people?
Did Walker or Bush do anything to lose their leads?