Tonight’s GOP Presidential Debate was more interesting than most, but for all the wrong reasons. Once again, the GOP played an inappropriate role, inserting itself and stewing the pot as if it was preparation for a wrestling match. Finally one of the candidates, Ted Cruz (R-TX), challenged the media’s bizarre behavior.
The Hill: Winners and Losers:
Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas)
The Texas senator finally showed the skills that made him a champion debater in his college years. His attack on CNBC and the media early on in the debate won some of the biggest cheers of the evening and set the tone for much of what followed. Cruz delivered an effective mix of informational detail and conservative populism throughout. The Texan, not always at his best when attempting to show a lighter side, even drew some laughter right at the start. Asked about his biggest weakness, the hard-charging Cruz replied with a smile, “I’m too agreeable, easy-going.”
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.)
Along with Cruz, Rubio was the other big winner. He parried an early attack from Jeb Bush about his uneven record of Senate attendance, telling the former Florida governor that “someone has convinced you that attacking me is going to help you.” Bush never recovered. Rubio also pivoted skillfully around some awkward questions. When asked about his handling of his personal finances, he talked about his modest roots and student debt. He also had a memorable line to join in the general media-bashing, referring to mainstream outlets as the “ultimate super-PAC” for Democrats.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Christie had another strong night, but will it move the needle for him among a GOP electorate that has been largely immune to his appeal? Christie delivered one of the most memorable moments of the night when he reacted with angry incredulity to a question about whether fantasy football was gambling and Bush’s nearly minute-long answer. “We have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?” he said.
Christie’s combative persona is well-suited to the debate stage and, true to form, he tangled with the moderators as well. Interrupted several times by CNBC anchor John Harwood late in the debate, Christie shot back, “John, do…(Read more, including the Losers)
Ted Cruz Shames CNBC: