Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich

Tonight was the Fox News GOP Debate, the first primary debate after the events of Super Tuesday. This debate is also the only one to take place during the CPAC conference in Washington, DC. The four remaining candidates got plenty of face time with America. Here’s how the winners and losers shook out.

WINNERS

Senator Ted Cruz: Tonight’s big winner was clearly and indisputably Ted Cruz. Cruz showed the most substance and had the strongest answers. His line about charging Snowden with treason, like his answers on ethanol before the Iowa caucus, showed he’s able to give tough, definitive answers to questions that are controversial even within the party. His touting of his Supreme Court credentials was not only a great case but a timely one.

And when Megyn Kelly eviscerated Trump over his disastrous Trump University failure, it seemed the smoking corpse couldn’t possibly suffer more abuse. But Ted Cruz stepped in and in a few sentences buried that corpse, salted the earth, and wiped the name and location from this history books. Utterly. Destroyed.

But best of all was that Cruz masterfully avoided being in the line of fire, and above the fray in Trump and Rubio’s heated exchanges. Sometimes that doesn’t play well. Sometimes it makes you the winner. This is one of the latter times.

Senator Marco Rubio: Rubio was also a winner tonight. He has proved beyond the shadow of doubt how weak Donald Trump is before attacks on his tremendous, yuge vanity. He crumples. He falls apart. He talks about his ding dong. The extent to which Marco can easily send Trump into a panic by mentioning his hands or tan is just a shadow of how easily the Democrats will handle him. They won’t have to mention policy. Just his hair. Or his stump fingers. He’ll fall apart.

Marco also crushed Trump’s lack of substance on foreign policy, asking him if he would ever offer any policy details in answer to a foreign policy question. Predictably, Trump responded by taking a petty swipe at Rubio. Yet another point for Marco and against Donald.

LOSERS

Donald Trump: Trump is the obvious, clear loser tonight. It wasn’t even close. He was clownish, he changed his mind over the course of the debate, he had his butt handed to him over and over by both Marco and Ted. He was found to be making false statements, his economic policy was proved not only to be a disaster, but it was shown that he himself couldn’t even articulate it, much less a defense of it. He couldn’t even muster a strong response to the Romney question. On the scale of fail he hit a solid ten: total dumpster fire.

Except for one thing. Donald promised to support the nominee of the party no matter who it is. That was a good line for him, even if he doesn’t mean it, and will play well for him.

ALSO RAN

Gov. John Kasich: We should mention that Gov. John Kasich was also at the debate. So were his hand gestures. He had a few decent lines but wasn’t really a factor.

Here are the winners’ closing statements.
Sen. Cruz:

Sen. Rubio: