Everybody was expecting fireworks and the moderators of the Fox Business Network debate did not disappoint, setting up several testy moments with particular questions. Thankfully, they did not let it get out of hand and viewers were treated to a lively, substantive debate.
It was important some of the candidates to have a strong debate performance. Despite the ratings of the previous debates, now is when people are going to start to make their decisions. The holidays are over and it is go time.
Here are some takeaways from the debate last night:
1. Ted Cruz made Donald Trump look like a complete fool on the birther issue. Trump has a tell when somebody is getting him upset. His eyes narrow and it's almost like he is wincing in pain. Normally, if somebody is saying something about him, he'll make goofy faces or even smile. But Cruz got to him and Trump's blubbering, incoherent response was made worse when he attempted the appeal to authority fallacy and brought up Laurence Tribe's name. Cruz was ready and pounced, making sure everybody knows Tribe is big time liberal. That left Trump to say, "There are others too, Ted!" Okie-dokie, Donald.
2. Ben Carson is done. He didn't even look like he wanted to be there. It was funny because this was the most relaxed (and I don't mean "low energy" I just mean free and easy) he's been. It's almost as if he's saying, "Screw it. I'm done. Might as well just enjoy myself." I can't even remember much of what he said, and I suspect he was well behind everybody else with respect to how long they spoke.
3. Jeb, Kasich and Christie are all vying for the position of Fredo Corleone. You can almost hear the desperation in their voices when they speak, particularly about their time as an executive. "I get things done! I'm smaht! Not like everybody says! And I want respect!" Don't get me wrong. I think the country would benefit at this point from having a Governor step into the oval office but now that Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry are no longer around, none of these three will do.
4. Things will get nastier between Cruz and Trump over the next couple of weeks. Trump is nervous. He has staked so much on "the polls, the polls, the polls." Losing Iowa would be bad for him and he knows it. Despite Cruz handing Trump his ass over the birther issue, expect Trump to keep bringing it up. He'll go after Cruz on the Goldman Sach's loan as well. Cruz was very prepared for Trump's attacks so I have no doubt they will be ready for whatever other lines of attack Trump attempts. They better be, because it will happen.
5. The race is essentially down to three people. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump will be the only ones still standing after New Hampshire. You could see it in the debate as the moderators were happy to let them three go back and forth with each other most of the night. The Three Fredo's will likely not do well in Iowa or New Hampshire. Hard to see all three of them heading to South Carolina to be embarrassed further.
What did you think?