Friday, January 29, 2016

How You Know Trump Won Last Night's Debate

I argued last night that the clear winner last night was the man who wasn't there.

Josh Marshall has the same basic take.

"As I noted earlier, the multiple events we were trying to cover tonight - especially what amounted to a Republican debate and a simultaneous counter-debate - prevented me from giving the kind of focus to the debate proper which I normally would. So my impressions will be more tentative than they normally are."

I myself said last night that I didn't watch the GOP debate but Trump's event-which was kind of moving when some of the veteran's gave speeches. It was hilarious on C-SPAN after. A woman on the phone was raving over how great Trump was. The C-SPAN pundit tried to cut in and ask her what she thinks of Jeb being endorsed by a Florida paper and it was dead silence.

'Uh-I'm for Trump.' was all the had to say to that.

As to the Kid's Table debate, all you have to know is that Jim Gillmore is supposed to have done very well to realize you missed nothing by not having watched it.

According to Josh, Cruz tried to dominate early with some jokes about Trump. But he wasn't really able to maintain the role. After the first half hour, there was no more talk of Trump.

I did check in to the main debate a few times. I saw Rubio talking very fast and animatedly. I saw a good deal of consensus on Twitter and around the web that Rubio was wildly over-amped.

This is certainly Josh's take:

Rubio seemed too frenetic and hyped up to me. He's had the same pat, smooth, paragraph length prose answers he's used in every debate. But with time running out for him, he's just reciting faster or more agitated or more pissed off than before. But more pissed off at ISIS or just how his campaign is going?

"In any case, I think his exchanges with others on the stage did not go well for him - the back and forth with Bush particularly so. In fact, I thought this was Bush's best debate by a longshot, though I can't imagine it will do him much good at this point. After that early debate where he went after Rubio and Rubio just shut him down, I thought Bush did Rubio a fair amount of damage in the exchange on immigration. As Kris Kristoferson put it, freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. And like Rand Paul, with Bush I felt a sense of, 'Now that my campaign's over I can loosen up a bit and be myself.'

Actually Jeb had a good recent poll in NH. It would be great if he-or Kasich who also has had some good polls in NH-were to come in first among the Establishment candidates.

As Rubio is the Establishment's best bet.

Rubio has not been doing so well in NH-though he has been in third in Iowa.

"I thought Cruz did well against Rubio but fared much less well against Rand Paul, who made him look bad. Cruz was clumsy and cringey at the beginning with the Trump jokes. But my sense was that if you're open to liking Ted Cruz, he did reasonably well. His closing - again, for people with the acquired taste - struck me as pretty strong."

Yes, I also heard good things about Rand Paul.

Overall, Trump threw the whole center of gravity off.

"The night was too jumbled for me to get a real sense of how this whole night played for Trump - whether his gambit worked. My guess is that it likely solidified where he already was. He didn't dominate the entirety of the debate quite as much as I anticipated. But even though the candidates mainly stopped talking about Trump after a half-hour or more, he still totally turned the evening upside down. Hell, he completely threw me off my game! I can't watch two totally separate events live at the same time with any level of attention (after the beginning I watched very little of his speech.)"

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