Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College  Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, answers a question during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by ABC News at the St. Anselm College Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Sen. Ted Cruz won the New Hampshire GOP debate. Cruz managed to stay above the hand to hand combat between the desperate governors and Sen Marco Rubio and Donald Trump. He gave great answers to the ABC News moderators, some of whom spent the night fishing for sound bites that could be used to help the Democrats’ eventual nominee.

Gov. Chris Christie went after Sen. Marco Rubio early and seemed to rattle him. Unfortunately Christie came across as a nasty bully and damaged himself. Still the exchange resulted in one of the most memorable moments of the debate with Rubio subsequently repeating many times that Obama knows exactly what he is doing. The repetition was counterproductive to say the least. Trump blasted Rubio saying Obama is incompetent and doesn’t have a clue know what he is doing. The Christie and Trump attack on Rubio effectively blew up one of Rubio’s main talking points. Rubio seemed a bit off his game the rest of the debate.

Eminent Domain

In another memorable moment, former governor Jeb Bush nailed Trump with the Donald’s abuse of eminent domain. It was the most effective Jeb has been in any of the debates. Because of that moment Trump should expect to see a lot more of this ad. Worse for Trump the audience booed him during this exchange.

Kasich was there and droned on at times without saying anything memorable. He didn’t do any damage to himself or any other candidate, but he didn’t help himself either.

The Carson Quitting Rumor

David Muir brought up the issue that Carson and Trump keep bringing up about the false rumor circulated during the Iowa caucuses that Carson might be withdrawing from the race. Muir asked Dr. Ben Carson what kind of action he thought Cruz should take. After evoking Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment not to speak ill of another Republican, Carson said   “I’m not going to use this opportunity to savage the reputation of Senator Cruz.” Then Carson belittled himself and did his best to savage Cruz’ reputation.

In his response Cruz apologized to Carson again:

Ben is a good and honorable man and Ben and Candy have become friends. He has an amazing life story that has inspired millions, including me. When this transpired, I apologized to him then and I do so now. Ben, I’m sorry.

Cruz went on and more than adequately explained the details of what happened. Carson, Trump and the mainstream media have hurt and discredited themselves by their effort to keep this sore loser issue alive in hopes of damaging Cruz.

Voters Are Choosing a Commander in Chief

Muir asked Cruz about his comment that “Trump’s behavior this week, that’s not the temperament of a leader to keep this country safe.” Cruz deflected the question saying it’s up to the voters here in New Hampshire and across the country to make such an assessment:

They are looking to our experience. They are looking to our knowledge. They are looking to our temperament and judgment. They are looking to our clarity of vision and our strength of resolve.

[. . .]

I am convinced every individual standing on this stage, would make a much better commander-in-chief than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

You can watch Cruz’ answer in this video.

Keep America Safe

Martha Raddatz asked Cruz what he would do as Commander in Chief in response to the North Korean launch of a missile that could someday carry a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States. In his response, Cruz pointed out that the launch, and the fact that North Korea has a nuclear weapon is the direct result of the failures of the first Clinton administration:

The Clinton administration led the world in relaxing sanctions against North Korea. Billions of dollars flowed into North Korea in exchange for promises not to build nuclear weapons. They took those billions and built nuclear weapons.

And, I would note also the lead negotiator in that failed North Korea sanctions deal was a woman named Wendy Sherman who Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton promptly recruited to come back to be the lead negotiator with Iran. So, what we are seeing with North Korea is a foreshadowing of where we will be with Iran.

Cruz then went on to explain what he would do in response to the missile launch:

One of the first things we should do is expand our missile defense capacity. We ought to put missile defense interceptors in South Korea. South Korea wants them.

[. . .]

We need to harden the grid to defend ourselves, and we need missile defense to protect ourselves against North Korea.

Raddatz then made it clear she was out to try and play gotcha with Cruz but he got the better of her in this exchange:

RADDATZ: Well, let me ask you this, if you were Commander in Chief tonight would you have ordered the U.S. military to destroy that missile preemptively on the launchpad to prevent North Korea from becoming an even graver threat?

CRUZ: You know, at this point I’m not going to speculate on that without the intelligence briefing that any Commander in Chief would have, knowing what exactly is there.

CRUZ: One of the real problems…

RADDATZ: … Senator Cruz, let me tell you this, you have talked tough about the Mid-East, you haven’t gotten those intelligence briefings about that. Why not tell us whether you would preemptively strike a missile on a launchpad that threatens the U.S…

CRUZ: … Actually, with respect, I have gotten the intelligence briefings on the Mid-East. Those have been going on for many years. I haven’t gotten the intelligence briefing tonight on what North Korea’s doing because I’m here in New Hampshire. When you’re responding to an immediate incident, you need to know the intelligence of what’s occurring.

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video:

Allow Our Soldiers to do their Job

Next Raddatz asked Cruz to explain how a strategy to defeat a standing army would work against an unconventional terrorist group that is now hiding among the population. Cruz began his response by taking President Obama to task for failing to set an objective of destroying ISIS:

CRUZ: Well, sure. It starts with a commander-in-chief that sets the objective. And the objective has to be utterly and completely destroying ISIS. Obama hasn’t started with that objective and everything else flows from there.

Once you set that objective, we have the tools to carry that out. The first tool is overwhelming air power. It is one of the blessings of the United States of America, having the greatest military on the face of the earth, is we have the ability to use that air power.

As you know, in the first Persian Gulf War, it was 1,100 air attacks a day. Obama is launching between 15 and 30. Now, when I say saturation carpet bombing, that is not indiscriminate.

[. . .]
RADDATZ: Senator Cruz, would you like to expand or loosen the rules of engagement? I was just over in a command center in Erbil and they said they thought the rules of engagement worked. Because you have so many civilians in those populated areas, they don’t want to hit civilians.

CRUZ: Martha, I will tell you, I have visited with active duty military, with veterans over and over and over again in town halls all over the state of New Hampshire. What we are doing to our sons and daughters, it is immoral. We are sending them into fight with their arms tied behind their back. They cannot defend themselves. And it is wrong.

[. . .]

RADDATZ: So, loosen the rules of engagement?

CRUZ: Absolutely, yes.

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video:

Abolish The IRS, Common Core And Executive Overreach

Mary Katharine Ham asked Cruz how he would implement his aggressive agenda to undo Obama’s executive overreach and to end Common Core  abolish the IRS, and do away with sanctuary cities. Cruz knocked this question out of the park easily:

CRUZ: Well, thank you for that question. You know, there are three avenues of presidential authority to change the direction of this country. The first is executive power, the second is foreign policy, and the third is legislation. Executive power, as we all know, has been the preferred vehicle of President Obama, abusing his authority, abusing his constitutional authority.

Now, the silver lining of that is everything done with executive power can be undone with executive power, so I have pledged on day one I will rescind every single illegal and unconstitutional executive action Barack Obama has done. That means on day one his efforts to restrict the Second Amendment go away with the strike of a pen. That means on day one his illegal executive amnesty goes away with the strike of a pen.

The reason I can end Common Core at the federal level is because Obama is abusing executive power using Race to the Top funds in the Department of Education to force it on the states. That’s one avenue.

The second avenue of change is foreign policy, and foreign policy can change the fastest. It’s worth remembering that Iran released our hostages the day Reagan was sworn in. And, the third is legislation, and that can only be done with the people behind you, which is why the two big legislative initiatives I’m campaigning on are repealing Obamacare, and adopting a simple flat tax to abolish the IRS.

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video.

We Need A President Who Will Go After The Terrorists

Josh McElveen asked Cruz whether families should be allowed to raise money for ransom for their loved ones. Cruz answered this emotional question smoothly and managed to take Obama to task at the same time:

CRUZ: Well, look, I recognize it is an agonizing experience when anyone is facing a loved — loved member who’s been kidnapped. But at the same time, putting in place legal regimes that encourage the payment of ransom has the effect of putting a bounty on other Americans. There is a reason it has been longstanding U.S. policy that we don’t negotiate with terrorists, we don’t pay ransoms.

[. . .]

And the proper approach is a president and commander in chief that defends this country and that goes after — goes after the terrorists, rather than showing them weakness and encouraging them to target more Americans,

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video.

Full Repeal Of ObamaCare

Mary Katharine Ham asked Cruz how to reassure that people that repealing and replacing Obamacare is in their best interest? In response Cruz articulately explained the problems with socialized medicine and outlined what to do about it.

CRUZ: Well, let me take two different parts of that. Let me start with socialized medicine. Socialized medicine is a disaster. It does not work. If you look at the countries that have imposed socialized medicine, that have put the government in charge of providing medicine, what inevitably happens is rationing.

You have a scarcity of doctors. You have rationing. And that means the elderly are told, we’re going to ration a hip replacement, we’re going to ration a knee replacement. We’re going to ration end- of-life care.

We’re right now heading into a medical system with about a 90,000-doctor shortage in America and socialized medicine; whether proposed by the Democrats or proposed by a Republican would hurt the people of this country.

What should we do on health care? If I’m elected president, we will repeal every word of Obamacare.

And once we do that, we will adopt common sense reforms, number one, we’ll allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines that will drive down prices and expand the availability of low cost catastrophic insurance.

We’ll expand health savings accounts; and we will de-link health insurance from employment so that you don’t lose your health insurance when you lose your job, and that way health insurance can be personal, portable and affordable and we keep government from getting in between us and our doctors.

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video.

Secure The Border And Stop Illegal Immigration

When Muir asked Cruz how he would deport 11.5 million illegal immigrants, it seemed like a gotcha question. But Cruz methodically laid out his plan to end illegal immigration:

CRUZ: So, in terms of a practical solution, I’ve laid out the most detailed plan for solving illegal immigration. It’s 11 pages, single-spaced, chapter and verse. It’s on our website, tedcruz.org.

In short, we’re going to do, we’re going to build a wall. We’re going to triple the border patrol. We’re going to increase — and actually, since Donald enjoyed that, I will simply say, I’ve got somebody in mind to build it.

We’re going to increase four-fold, the fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, so that you have technology monitoring an attempted incursion to direct the boots on the ground where they’re occurring. We’re going to put in place a strong e-verify system in the workplace, so you can’t get a job without proving you are here legally.

We’ll put in place a biometric exit-entry system on visas, because 40 percent of illegal immigration comes not over the border illegally, but people coming on visas and overstaying.

We will end sanctuary cities by cutting off taxpayer dollars to any jurisdiction that defies federal immigration law.

And we will end welfare benefits for those here illegally.

It became more clear that the question was expected to trip up Cruz when Muir followed up by asking about deporting families. Cruz won this exchange as well:

MUIR: Let me just ask you this, though, because Governor Kasich was talking about the families and what you do with the families that you would have to send home.

Can you tell the American people tonight how you would do that?

CRUZ: What you do is, you enforce the law. You know, under the Constitution, the president has an obligation to, quote, “Take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Federal immigration law provides, if someone is here illegally and is apprehended, they are to be deported.

You can watch the Cruz answer in this video.

There were a few other questions including one about torture. Nothing the moderators threw at Cruz rattled him or even threw him off stride. None of the other candidates even tried to go after Cruz. A very impressive winning performance by Cruz.