The Fox Business Network’s Republican Debate is now in the books. Now that a few days have passed, it is time for a post-mortem of the debate, the moderators, and (ultimately) the candidates themselves. Just how well did the whole event pan out?
First, the structure of the debate and the questions asked were a step above those from the CNBC debate two weeks prior. This is owed to the fact, largely, that the moderators were not asking questions about fantasy football. Fox Business Network’s Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo, and The Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerald Baker offered questions with “substance” and allowed for the candidates to elaborate on their answers.
Also, unlike the CNBC debate moderators, their questions did not include personal attacks aimed at the candidates. That sentiment, however, was felt somewhat differently by the other candidates.
Senator Marco Rubio hit his stride, and delivered a performance a step above his competitors. Rubio was even asked by Moderator Bartiromo what he would do in a possible run against Democratic forerunner Hillary Clinton:
“Senator Rubio, Hillary Clinton is the clear front runner for the Democratic nomination. If she is indeed the nominee, you will be facing a candidate with an impressive resume…
Why should the American people trust you to lead this country, even though she has been so much closer to the office?”
Rubio responded very strongly by asserting that the election is a “generational” one.
“This election is about the future, about what kind of country this nation is gonna be in the 21st century. This next election is actually a generational choice. A choice about what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century.”
The senator was met with a round of applause on almost everything in his platform. In fact, analysts in the post-debate coverage called Rubio the “establishment’s choice” for the nomination and the ultimate choice to fight the tirade of Clinton.
Carly Fiorina was also able to get her two cents in during the lively debate. The former CEO made an excellent argument on dealing with Putin’s Russia, supporting stronger national security, and was very outspoken. Trump even indicated that she has something to say on everything.
Speaking of the Donald, the billionaire candidate was more “reserved” than usual. Several pundits have stated that Trump was off that night, and one Chicago Tribune op-ed even said that he had a “bad night.” However, the only real negative during Trump’s performance was his rant on the Trans Pacific Partnership and the supposed involvement of China. “Currency manipulation is the single greatest weapon [the Chinese] people have. They don’t even discuss it in this agreement,” Trump stated. Unknowingly, Trump’s rant was inaccurate, leaving him open to be corrected by Senator Rand Paul.
The other candidates provided average or below-average performances. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul remained very quiet and showed little to no surge in support. Sadly enough, John Kasich may have run his campaign into the ground. The Ohio governor had the second-most speaking time of the night, but only was asked two questions and regularly complained about being unable to offer his opinion. Compared to more polished candidates like Cruz, Rubio, and Fiorina, the Kasich train was slowed, derailed, and appeared to have crashed.