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Last night was the last debate before the New Hampshire primary. The media, looking for their narrative, found one. Marco Rubio had a bad moment with Chris Christie and now they are going to write the stories on how Rubio, who had surged into second place in NH primary polls, may now finish in third, fourth or maybe even fifth place.
It’s silly season and the press is being predictable as usual. They are interested in two things:
As soon as the debate was over the narrative took hold. “Is Rubio finished after this debate?”, “How badly did Marco Rubio hurt himself tonight?” It goes on. Some went so far as to absurdly claim this was a “Dan Quayle” moment for Rubio which is just a goofball thing to say (Yes, even you Brit Hume).
As for the horse race, this gives the press reason to pontificate how Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie could sneak up and take second spot away from Marco Rubio. Good luck with that. Kasich has been polling pretty well but Jeb and Christie have not, particularly Christie whose desperation was palpable on the stage last night.
Remember, just over a week ago the same people in the media – journalists and talking heads alike – were marveling at Donald Trump skipping the last debate and how it was a move that would be sure to help him. They were also harsh on Ted Cruz who had a rough debate saying it was going to hurt him. The results were nothing like they said.
Ricky Roma’s quote from Glengarry Glen Ross is perfectly suited for the media and what they tell us to think:
“I subscribe to the law of contrary public opinion: if everyone thinks one thing, then I say, bet the other way.”
With all of that said, there are several larger points I want to make about the debate:
To Rubio supporters: Stop defending Rubio’s bad moment. – It was bad. Cringeworthy at the time. It happens. Every candidate so far has suffered from a poor overall debate or debate moment. Rubio had his. There is no point in trying to downplay it. The rest of the night for Rubio was very good. There is no reason to waste energy or time defending what was clearly a few bad minutes for him. The best part it is, it won’t matter. Despite what the media is hoping for, there is not a single person who currently supports Rubio that will change their minds because of this one exchange.
To Christie, Bush and Kasich supports: Stop acting like your guy still has a chance – This was the last gasp effort for all three. Christie is clearly the most desperate. His petty attacks against Marco Rubio leading up to the debate made him look weak (especially all of the “boy” talk). He had a good moment in the debate last night, but he knew he was having a good moment and it made him cocky and arrogant – which does not play well outside of the northeast. Also, his answer on abortion was just horrendous.
To political junkies: This was likely the first debated watched for many people – We always tend to examine things from our own little bubble. We assume everybody has watched all the other debates and assume they have the same frame of reference we do. But they don’t. It’s the reason Rubio people should stop worrying about his bad moment and the others should stop gloating it’s a death knell for him.
Donald Trump still sounds incoherent on the debate stage – I am so tired of people acting as though if Trump doesn’t say something ridiculously outrageous that he’s had a “good” debate. He was having a decent debate last night at the start because he wasn’t saying much. That’s all. Then Jeb Bush got under his skin about eminent domain and Trump reverted back to his typical petulant ways. He was booed heavily at one point for being an ass and he made it worse by claiming it was nothing but a bunch of “donors” booing. The talking heads thought it was great and proclaimed it was going to help. The same people who thought it was a smart move for him to skip the debate last week.
Forget the Governors, Ted Cruz comes out of this debate the best – Cruz had a very good debate. Outside of his tapping on the lectern which I found to be super annoying, Cruz didn’t attack anybody despite the goading from debate moderators (who were awful) and his touching story about his sister’s battle with drug addiction was side nobody had seen before (and as I said above, many were seeing for the first time). Veering off and tying it to immigration was a little odd but it didn’t take too much from the overall tone.
So there you have it. What did you think?