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The Republican debate on CNN yesterday was the last time we will see the candidates together before Super Tuesday, the day that might just be the day when the candidacy is more or less decided, with a number of states holding the primaries or caucuses. The debate was held in Houston and the five remaining candidates were all there – Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and John Kasich.
Let’s be honest, Carson and Kasich have been out of the race since before it even began and yesterday’s standing arrangements reflected this. The two candidates were placed on each of the wings, with the Big Three in the middle. To make things even more cinematic, they put Trump in the middle, with Rubio on his right and Cruz on his left. It was as if the producers knew how the debate is going to unfold.
Trump was coming in riding the Nevada caucus victory, the most sizeable in this year’s GOP race and he was exuding confidence. Not that he hadn’t been exuding it before Nevada. Yesterday, however, he was the clear leader and when you come into a debate with such a lead, you can expect things to get hairy. In fact, it has actually been quite surprising that his opponents hadn’t thought of this earlier – tag-teaming WWE-style to try and take him on.
Well, it finally happened yesterday and it made for one very interesting debate where Cruz and Rubio took their turns running and gunning at Trump, with the race leader so far handling them like only he can. Do not believe the hype that you are seeing everywhere, Trump more than handled his two main opponents. If anything else, he is even stronger after yesterday’s debate.
For one, the mere fact that he got Cruz and Rubio to “cooperate” is a big enough indicator of how dominant Trump has been these last few weeks. In the earlier debates, the two candidates were constantly at each other’s throats, exchanging insults, asking uncomfortable questions and so on. Yesterday, it felt as they sat together prior to the debate and worked out the details of their offensive on Trump.
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The gloves truly came off during the debate and Cruz and Rubio were firing from every weapon they had, clinging onto every single word Trump has ever said and dissecting every one of his moves in the last couple of decades. Yes, decades. Rubio’s “Big Victory” of the night is supposed to be the commentary about Trump in which he would now be selling knock-off watches if he hadn’t inherited 200 million. Trump of course responded that he hadn’t inherited anything like that and that he took out a loan of $1 million.
Cruz touched upon the subject of polls, saying that Trump couldn’t beat Hillary Clinton in the presidential elections. Trump then reminded Cruz that he is beating HIM very comfortably in the polls, meaning that Clinton would kill him. This was nothing but a common sense piece of defending. Cruz should have been smarter and kept his mouth shut on this subject.
The two candidates also brought up the issue of Trump University and Trump calmly explained everything concerning this particular case. When they touched upon Planned Parenthood and federal health insurance, Trump was the only one brave enough to point out that Planned Parenthood actually does some good for women. He would still close it (like he should), but he was not afraid to point out they do some good work too. In respect to health insurance, Trump was the only one to say he wouldn’t leave Americans dying in the streets. In our books, that is a good thing.
In the end, it all came down to poise, experience and, well why not say it, grace under fire. The two young candidates were filled with glee that they are finally saying something people are taking notice of and the only way they could make it happen was by involving Trump.
Trump, on the other hand, simply tapped in the endless well of PR and debating skills and experience, brushing them aside and indirectly exposing them for the inexperienced and unrefined debaters that they are.
If you needed any more indication that Trump actually won yesterday, it was announced today that he received his first major endorsement from Chris Christie. Remember, Christie is not just about anyone in the Republican Party. Christie was chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, he was the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention in 2012. He is GOP establishment.
And he is realizing Trump is the future.