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The day when much will be decided in the GOP nomination race is closing on us and it is only a few days until March 15 when Marco Rubio and John Kasich will be pretty much forced to leave the race if they fail to win their home states (Florida and Ohio). Yesterday, the four remaining candidates met in Florida for another debate and it was a much more amiable one than the last few, but it was still a ton of fun. Even Donald Trump commented on the level of civility during the debate, saying at one point, “I cannot believe how civil it’s been up here.”
As has already become a tradition, Trump and Ted Cruz had the two middle spots on the stage, with Marco Rubio and John Kasich to their sides. And unlike in the previous two or three debates, this one did not come down to everyone turning to the race leader so far, Trump, and screaming to his face. It was really refreshing to see something like this unfold, but it also made us think about a few things.
Firstly, it only confirmed our suspicions that Cruz and Rubio had only been attacking Trump openly because they thought it would score them points. We were not born yesterday and we understand that candidates have teams who think of strategies during the race, but whoever told Rubio and Cruz to get down and dirty in the previous debates have either been fired or have changed their story. And it was the right thing to do.
That being said, it has definitely hurt the two candidates. It has only served to show that they will try anything to hut Trump, no matter how ridiculous and demeaning it might be. You get the feeling they would both do a juggling act tomorrow if they knew they could get a few more votes for it (maybe those strong juggler votes?) and that is not something you want to see in your presidential candidates. Perhaps that is why Trump has been cruising to a nomination all this time?
This new-found civility has made us think about another thing. It made us think that Cruz and Rubio (not even to mention Kasich) are perhaps also losing some of the fire they once showed. They didn’t show that much, but they at least seemed engaged. Yesterday, not so much. It was as if they were simply going through the motions, doing their lines as if they were actors who have gone through the same play a thousand times. You do not do that. You are looking to be the Republican presidential candidate. You do not wing it.
The current leader of the nomination race (and hopefully the winner), Donald Trump, was finally given time to share his opinion on serious issues and matters, as well as to say a few truths that needed to be said. Like for instance when he said that a lot of Muslim people hate America. This was the first time a politician had the courage to say this live on TV, in front of millions. And to point out that he didn’t mean radical Islamists. He meant a lot of Muslims. And this is a fact. We just don’t like to talk about it. Politicians especially.
The candidates touched upon a number of other issues, such as the possibility of a contested convention (let’s hope it doesn’t come to that), relations with Cuba, education, social security and so on. In the end, the debate seemed to only keep the status quo where no one made any significant gains or embarrassed themselves. As far as Trump is concerned, this is a great thing, but if we were supporters of any of the other candidates (we are not, of course), we would be worried. Cruz may only be waiting for Rubio and Kasich to leave the race, but those two guys are more or less done.
UPDATE: As we were working on today’s bit of writing, we learned that Ben Carson has endorsed Donald Trump in a rather surprising (for most people) move. It is becoming clearer and clearer – everyone is starting to stand behind Trump.