(Charleston, West Virginia) – No Trump! I thought it would be fascinating to analyze Thursday night’s Republican debate in Iowa, the one from which Donald Trump backed out. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“Trump Stump” – I think Trump's backing out was a bad mistake. I’m not sure it will cost him votes or the Iowa Caucuses (which are Monday), but - at the very least - it was disrespectful to the people of Iowa. He wasn't punishing Fox News by not showing up; he was cheating the voters and viewers. He wants to be President, so the voters should have heard from him directly. Plus, he gave his opponents an open shot to gain ground. It was not a wise decision, in my analysis.
“On the Plus Side” – I think finally we got to hear more from the other candidates. I learned a lot by hearing Rand Paul in greater detail, without Trump's interrupting him with insults. The same goes for Jeb Bush. I suspect that if Trump had showed, he would have been on the attack against Ted Cruz and vice versa; and those two would have overshadowed the other candidates. In summary, the voters got a much better look at the others.
“Best Lines” – When the debate opened, Ted Cruz was asked about the “elephant” missing from the room. He responded: “I’m a maniac; and everyone here on this stage is fat and ugly; and, Ben, you’re a lousy surgeon,” (quoting Trump’s earlier insults). Cruz added that they could then start the debate, “Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way.” It was a funny icebreaker.
“Avoiding Donald” – Marco Rubio had an interesting tactic. It seemed that every time a subject came up – including Trump – the Florida Senator would digress and talk about President Obama and Hillary Clinton, as if they were Siamese twins joined at the hip. Of Trump, he said: “This campaign is not about Trump. He’s an entertaining guy. He’s the greatest show on earth.” Rubio then launched his first Obama-Clinton attack. I lost count; but it was clear that Rubio said the words “Obama” and “Clinton” way more than anyone else on the stage. For months now, national polls have shown Rubio as the only Republican beating Mrs. Clinton in a head-to-head match-up. Attacking her was a smart strategy.
“From the Executive Office” – For many years - from Jimmy Carter, to Ronald Reagan, to Bill Clinton, and to George W. Bush – having been a Governor was the best path to the White House. With that in mind on Thursday night, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich all touted their years of experience as chief executive of their respective states. Christie probably won the most points by mocking the “Washington-speak” of the Senators on the stage. “This is why you need to send someone from outside of Washington, to Washington. I feel like you need a ‘Washington-to-English’ dictionary converter,” Christie said to laughs and cheers.
“Winners & Losers” – The debate spotlight shifted more attention on Cruz, as the number-two candidate in national polling. He and Rubio mixed it up well and did not make any major gaffes. Of the three Governors, I would say Christie came out on top. I would rate Cruz, Rubio and Christie as the winners of the debate, in no particular order. Bush and Kasich neither hurt nor harmed their respective causes, so they get a neutral grade. The same goes for Rand Paul, who simply holds appeal to the party’s libertarian wing. Ben Carson, I thought, was flat and seems to keep losing ground. He was probably the debate’s loser.
“Saying Goodbye” – Finally, this week I must say goodbye to my friend and colleague, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr., who died Thursday morning. Buddy served as Mayor of Providence in two stretches totaling 22 years. Yes, he was twice run from office, both times on felony convictions; but he was also the architect of that fine city’s renaissance. His was one of the most astute political minds I’ve encountered in covering nearly forty years of politics. He loved talking politics and invited me on his TV and radio shows many, many times - most recently to discuss this year’s Presidential election. Cheers, Buddy! I’ll miss you!
What are your thoughts on Thursday’s “Trumpless” debate? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
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