This should be interesting…
My quick take:
Carly! She rocked. She was on point, eloquent, and firm. She continued to turn the debate to Hillary and the dems. She kept her message crisp and conservative. Clear winner.
Christie. He was likable and energetic. He was able to tout his record in Jersey and kept turning the debate back to the people and the failure of the current administration.
Walker. He had some great exchanges early and then faded, only to return in strength at the end.
Carson: He was natural and smart. He had more time to talk than the last debate and clearly stands out as someone different than most of the politicians on the stage. He validated his rise in the polls.
Trump. He was himself. His lame retort to Fiorina’s “face” comment was laughable.
Bush. He was fine, but never really stood out. His attempt to get Trump to apologize to his wife was dumb. But I don’t think he had to do really well because he is the default as others begin to fade. His best line was when he stuck up for W. What most people will remember, however, is that Jeb smoked pot 40 years ago.
Cruz: As someone who should be leading as a conservative standard bearer, he was largely missing.
Rubio. He was OK, but didn’t stand out.
Kasich. Was he there? Nobody cared before or after.
Paul. No ground either way.
Huckabee: He had a nice stand out on the Iran treaty, but other than that he didn’t move the needle.
OVERALL: Although a three hour debate was brutal, it did give time for everyone to participate with 11 people on the stage. BUT, I suspect that few people watched the whole thing, so much of the reaction will be driven by whatever clips make the news cycle.
The questions were OK, but some were clearly designed to get a fiery exchange going. The candidates mostly did a good job pushing the debate where they wanted it to go. The long debate did let them get into some marginal issues. For example, hearing Trump pontificate on autism and vaccines was ridiculous.
In the end, Fiorina is still the clear winner. She established herself as the anti-establishment, anti-Hillary, and private sector candidate. And she put some of the seasoned political veterans to shame.