Detroit GOP Debate Wrap-up

 

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TDS-Logo-BLast night the remaining Republican candidates gathered in Detroit for the 11th Republican primary debate. (Yes, there has really been 11 of them.) This one was hosted by Fox News and moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. It was held at the Fox Theater, which seats over 5,000 people, so the crowd was big … and very loud.

We haven’t seen a count, but Donald Trump appeared to get the most questions. (He definitely spoke for the most time.) And Trump didn’t get fluff questions, but rather direct and detailed ones. He was hammered on specifics, including how he would balance the budget, accompanied by full-screen graphics pointing out that his numbers don’t add up. He was asked about his off-the-record conversation with the New York Times where he claimed he would compromise on immigration. (Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz called on him to ask the paper to release the audio recording.) Trump got questions about a hotel in Florida that hired foreign workers. He got questions about the recent open letter signed by several national security figures rejecting Trump’s rhetoric on torturing people and going after the families of foreign fighters. He got questions about contradicting himself. And Trump was on the receiving end of aggressive and specific questions about Trump University.

He was also punched from both sides by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. (It looked something like this.) Over and over, Rubio hammered Trump on everything from his clothing line being produced in China to the stubby finger thing. Trump responded by claiming his, ahem, manhood is not small. (Yes, really. Because that’s the state of our democracy right now.) Once again, Cruz let Rubio do the bloody work while taking beautifully aimed headshots, like asking Trump why he repeatedly donated to Hillary Clinton.

And then there’s Kasich. While Trump was fighting with Rubio, Cruz, and the moderators, Kasich was off doing his own thing. He played the odd man out who wasn’t part of the other stuff. Every time things got a little overheated, the moderators threw it to Kasich to calm things down.

The final question, before the closing statements, referenced one of the questions way back in the first debate seven months ago. Would the candidates support the eventual Republican nominee and forgo a third-party run?

Rubio answered first, saying yes, because the other party was going to nominate either a socialist or someone who is under investigation by the FBI. Which was a decent reply, but he kept going and jammed in Benghazi. Kasich said yes because of something about a “special circle.” (We can’t elaborate, because it made no earthly sense.) Trump said that, yes, he’d support a nominee, even if it wasn’t him. The real winner on this answer was Ted Cruz. He said yes, because he wanted to keep his word.

Of the four, Cruz probably did the best last night. He was rested, smooth, and on his game. (You know, how he always is.) Rubio looked very tired and had a touch of laryngitis. (Sidenote: Why the hell can’t Trump get laryngitis?) Kasich was off in Kasich-land. And The Donald spent the whole night fending off attacks from all sides. If you want to read the transcript, there’s one available here, but really, words on a page aren’t going to do it justice.

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There are 34 comments.

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  1. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Were this a movie, it would be named RINOcalypse Now.

    • #1
  2. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    • #2
  3. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Leigh: Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    Good eyes. I did not catch that at all.

    • #3
  4. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Mike LaRoche: Were this a movie, it would be named RINOcalypse Now.

    I love the smell of Trump Roast in the morning….

    I kept thinking the fight scene in Anchorman.

    • #4
  5. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Why debate from a dead city?

    • #5
  6. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    I seriously think we need to physically separate the candidates in isolation booths and allow the audience to apply electric shocks at random.

    • #6
  7. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    TKC1101:

    Leigh: Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    Good eyes. I did not catch that at all.

    Really? I thought it was screamingly obvious and couldn’t figure out why commentators in general didn’t mention it. Remember how last week he was able to talk over Trump a few times? Tonight he tried and couldn’t get his voice loud enough.

    • #7
  8. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Leigh:Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    Sorry, but that’s essentially irrelevant.  He was less of a presence than Cruz.  That’s not irrelevant.

    • #8
  9. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Hoyacon:

    Leigh:Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    Sorry, but that’s essentially irrelevant. He was less of a presence than Cruz. That’s not irrelevant.

    Cause and effect.

    This was Cruz’s night, though. Not only because he had a stronger debate, but because I think Trump’s flip-flopping/flexibility/whatever on immigration hurts him in Cruz’s favor. I also noted that Rubio, who knows that quite well, nonetheless pushed that line of attack against Trump hard.

    • #9
  10. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    The Trump University stuff was interesting, but doesn’t matter, because he could shoot the judge who’s handling the case on Fifth Avenue and get away with it although maybe not because she’s Hispanic. Which is fine. Which is fine.

    • #10
  11. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    Leigh:Marco Rubio plainly has a very bad cold. I was stuck all night between thinking he was slightly off his game and wondering if he was going to lose his voice altogether, and being amazed that he could pull that off so obviously sick.

    I believe I have the same cold. Been hell teaching the past 3 days. Can’t imagine campaigning or being on a debate stage.

    • #11
  12. Mister D Member
    Mister D
    @MisterD

    James Lileks:The Trump University stuff was interesting, but doesn’t matter, because he could shoot the judge who’s handling the case on Fifth Avenue and get away with it although maybe not because she’s Hispanic. Which is fine. Which is fine.

    James, clearly you have failed to see Donald has evolved on this issue. He would not shoot the judge on Fifth Avenue. He would order the military to do it. And they would, because he is a leader. A leader who orders soldiers to commit war crimes.

    God help us all.

    • #12
  13. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    romneytrump

    • #13
  14. TKC1101 Inactive
    TKC1101
    @TKC1101

    Leigh: Really? I thought it was screamingly obvious and couldn’t figure out why commentators in general didn’t mention it. Remember how last week he was able to talk over Trump a few times? Tonight he tried and couldn’t get his voice loud enough.

    My fault. I was distracted trying to work while semi watching , mostly listening to the debates.

    • #14
  15. David Sussman Contributor
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Excellent synopsis.

    First, I was embarrassed sitting with my sons watching Trumpy jazz hands. They laughed it off but what lessons are we teaching our kids?

    Kudos to Cruz. He was excellent.

    ‘Serious’ Marco Rubio is a much better candidate than Shecky Rubio. Also I always thought he was an octave too high when speaking, so that hoarse voice kinda worked for him.

    • #15
  16. Redneck Desi Inactive
    Redneck Desi
    @RedneckDesi

    I wonder if Senator Sessions wants a do-over as trump contraindicated himself again on immigration. Trump is such a straight shooter.

    • #16
  17. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    It was clearly Ted’s night. I’m a much bigger fan of Marco’s, but I am all in favor of anything that takes Trump down.

    By the way, you’re right, Leigh. That voice sounded terrible. And as someone who has had too many bouts of laryngitis, I can tell you that it is exhausting to try to say anything when you have it.

    • #17
  18. Invisible Hand Inactive
    Invisible Hand
    @InvisibleHand

    I just joined Ricochet last night and very much enjoyed the debate “watching” experience with this community. Lots of clear-eyed and fun commentary without having to roll in the virtual mud of typical comments sections. That, and the fact that I’m an Internet privacy nut, has always kept me from joining the fray online… so I was happy to find a place where I could join a civil conversation and use a pen name while doing so. One problem, though… I chose the pen name “Invisible Hand” as an homage to Adam Smith and free markets, thinking it would also be a clever play on words for keeping my online anonymity. But now with all this icky talk about “hands” in this debate, I’m not so sure about my chosen nom de plume.

    • #18
  19. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Aaron Miller:Why debate from a dead city?

    Cruz showed why – it is the perfect place for a conservative candidate to talk about the failure of leftist policies.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there will be a conservative candidate in the general.

    • #19
  20. Nancy Spalding Thatcher
    Nancy Spalding
    @NancySpalding

    Invisible Hand, welcome!

    I chose the pen name “Invisible Hand” as an homage to Adam Smith and free markets, thinking it would also be a clever play on words for keeping my online anonymity. But now with all this icky talk about “hands” in this debate, I’m not so sure about my chosen nom de plume.

    Don’t worry about your nom de plume… These days, I don’t think it is possible to say anything that pop culture won’t make sound nasty in 15 minutes… One just sighs & moves on.

    ( sorry– don’t know how to do the obviously embedded quote thing)

    • #20
  21. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Ok, here’s my take, if anyone cares.

    Kasich won.  He didn’t get into the gutter and he put out his message, clearly and forcefully.

    Cruz was OK, but continues to come across as smarmy.  He’s got a slick, lawyer-esk answer that you have to parse for everything.  It doesn’t sell unless you’re already a Cruz supporter.

    Rubio was so concerned in fighting Trump that he never got his message out.  He never added to his political capital.

    Trump fought back all attacks.  He showed himself to be flexible, which means alleviates fears from those who do not support him while still holding on to his supporters.  He looked horrible but he probably confirmed he’s going to be the nominee.

    The only way I see that Trump can be stopped now is if Cruz and Rubio drop out and let Trump and Kasich go head to head.  I think both Cruz and Rubio have peaked out and will not get over the top, even if they go head to head with Trump.

    As for me, it showed me Trump will not bring down the republic.  He’s just an empty suit looking for status.  He’ll negotiate with republicans.  And so if he does get the nomination, I’ll probably support him over Hillary, the best of two very bad choices.  His cabinet should be filled with republicans and he should be able to maintain a Republican congress.  He should be OK with SCOTUS.

    • #21
  22. PTomanovich Member
    PTomanovich
    @PTomanovich

    Manny – that was my take exactly. The only quibble is that Kasich would be helpless against Trump if it came down to the two of them. He was given a couple of opportunities to attack Trump last night and he nervously glanced Trump’s way before declining to attack. Which is too bad because I do believe he would be a very competent president.

    • #22
  23. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    If I got to appoint the President, Kasich would likely be my choice (or maybe Romney).  But that’s not how it works.  A candidate has to get some votes.  And that is often at odds with measured, realistic policies.

    • #23
  24. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    PTomanovich:Manny – that was my take exactly. The only quibble is that Kasich would be helpless against Trump if it came down to the two of them. He was given a couple of opportunities to attack Trump last night and he nervously glanced Trump’s way before declining to attack. Which is too bad because I do believe he would be a very competent president.

    Well, one would think the dynamics would be different in a head to head debate.  Kasich may have nailed down the VP spot, which would alleviate my fears of a Trump presidency.

    • #24
  25. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    Larry3435:If I got to appoint the President, Kasich would likely be my choice (or maybe Romney). But that’s not how it works. A candidate has to get some votes. And that is often at odds with measured, realistic policies.

    Out of the ones remaining, I think you’re right to go with Kasich.  The last few weeks I had been a Rubio supporter, but I think I’m switching to Kasich now.  Rubio better fits my views but he’s so inexperienced.  I’ve wanted to go with a Governor from the beginning but I’ve gone with all the others since Kasich is the most Liberal.  Kasich’s experience in both Congress and as Governor is worthy and valuable.

    Now I’ve probably given Kasich the kiss of death.  Every governor I’ve jumped to has gone under.

    • #25
  26. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Manny:

    Larry3435: …

    Now I’ve probably given Kasich the kiss of death. Every governor I’ve jumped to has gone under.

    Don’t beat yourself up, it isn’t you. It’s Kasich. Did you read the comments on Ricochet chat when Kasich spoke last night? And those were conservatives. The man is viscerally unpleasant on a level not even Cruz can touch. At least Cruz has an impressive intellect to offset his smarminess.

    It’s unfortunate for the man, but Kasich just wasn’t endowed by his creator with the least bit of charm, or anything else sufficient to offset that deficiency. He’d be slaughtered in the general.

    • #26
  27. Solon Inactive
    Solon
    @Solon

    Mike LaRoche:Were this a movie, it would be named RINOcalypse Now.

    My friend, you debase the discussions on this website with childish comments like this, in my opinion.

    • #27
  28. Solon Inactive
    Solon
    @Solon

    Lucy Pevensie:It was clearly Ted’s night. I’m a much bigger fan of Marco’s, but I am all in favor of anything that takes Trump down.

    I’m a Rubio guy, too, but I am a bit afraid that he isn’t quick or aggressive enough, kind of like Romney.  My 12-year-old was watching when Trump was angrily insulting ‘little Marco’ and I was embarrassed.  (Luckily he didn’t catch on to Trump’s penis reference.  Shameful, not funny and shameful.)  I wish Rubio would have fought back against the bully harder.  Loved it when Cruz said, “Donald, calm down and count to 10.”

    • #28
  29. Lucy Pevensie Inactive
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    Solon: I’m a Rubio guy, too, but I am a bit afraid that he isn’t quick or aggressive enough, kind of like Romney.

    Go to marcorubio.com and see some of his speeches out on the campaign trail. He’s plenty aggressive–he’s absolutely no Romney. What you saw last night was what he could pull off with the flu. And the line about Trump’s flexibility; that was plenty quick. Don’t worry about that. He’s genuinely the best I’ve ever seen at this stuff.  But clearly it was not his night.

    • #29
  30. Severely Ltd. Inactive
    Severely Ltd.
    @SeverelyLtd

    Lucy Pevensie:

    Solon: I’m a Rubio guy, too, but I am a bit afraid that he isn’t quick or aggressive enough, kind of like Romney.

    Go to marcorubio.com and see some of his speeches out on the campaign trail. He’s plenty aggressive–he’s absolutely no Romney. What you saw last night was what he could pull off with the flu. And the line about Trump’s flexibility; that was plenty quick. Don’t worry about that. He’s genuinely the best I’ve ever seen at this stuff. But clearly it was not his night.

    This is true, Rubio is very quick. Just watch his clips on The Daily Show. I think he’s been thrown off his game since Trump rose and hasn’t figured out how to counter him. His resorting to the ‘short-fingered’ campaign rhetoric is a hail-mary, 4th-down-and-seconds-to-go effort of desperation. That wrestling with the pig might have done him in.

    • #30

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