The debate tonight started on a grim note, of course, with the tragic death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Each candidate gave a good answer on the implications of the vacancy on the court, and CBS tipped their hand early, going hard after Cruz during his answer about Scalia's death. Classy move, CBS. On that alone, CBS moderators are definitely the biggest loser tonight.
But it didn't stay grim for very long. It turned into a carnival ride early and never looked back. Shouting, shenanigans, insults, interruptions, mooning, molestation ... I'm saying. It was lively. Take a look:
As for winners, for the second debate in a row it's tough to call anyone a winner. Jeb Bush definitely beat all previous iterations of Jeb Bush. Ted Cruz was winning handily until the "My Spanish can beat up your Spanish" back and forth with Marco Rubio. They both came off bad, and Jeb got a great shot in on them with the remark about "obscure" amendments to bills that "didn't even pass." Highlights the same thing Christie won with last time: Congress is bad, Governors are good.
Ted Cruz: Early win against John Dickerson over the Supreme Court counts big and will definitely be a highlight discussion topic tomorrow and in the coming days. Looked bad in immigration tussle with Rubio. Trump called Cruz "the biggest liar" and Cruz responded with a brilliant line, saying "it is fairly remarkable to see Donald defending Ben after he called him pathological and compared him to a child molester." OOHHHHH SNAP.
Jeb Bush: War with Trump: Point to Jeb. War with Kasich: Point to nobody. War with Trump again: point to Trump, then back to Bush. Overall, though, Jeb had smarter, better answers than, for example, Kasich, Trump, or Carson, and more English responses than Cruz or Rubio.
I call it a tie, with maybe a slight edge to Jeb for seriously getting to Donald.
Donald Trump: did not win. His war with the audience will play well to his rabid base, but to most people he just looked childish and, frankly, not too bright. And he was way too high strung, almost frantic. He played to his base of course. Media will replay every word he said a thousand times, and a lot of good old South Carolina folks will love how he tarred Jeb and hate how nasty he was with Cruz. Cruz's line about Carson and child molestation was a truly hard hit and I predict in replays it will hit home for a lot of people, especially in the Carolinas. In the end, though, he didn't do himself any favors, and may have hurt himself. That's a loss.
Marco Rubio: He just never hit a home run. A home run is what he really, really needed after the last debate. For my money, he just didn't make the cut. Squabble with Ted Cruz looked bad for both of them, but worse for Ted. Still, he just didn't pull out a win.
Dr. Ben Carson: That joke about thanks for including me is really getting old. And it's reminding people that nobody takes him seriously. Otherwise, didn't really distinguish himself. But at least we know his website address.
And there you go. That's the debate in a nutshell. It was a circus.
The end. Thanks for reading!
What? Oh right, Kasich! Yeah he didn't win.