In order of winner to loser:
- Ted Cruz-Everything he said is exactly what I believe, and his delivery was eloquent, intelligent, and honest. He is a virtually flawless speaker, and I love that he had statistics or examples of every one of his positions.
- Marco Rubio-I disliked one part of one answer. When talking about education, I did not like that he spoke of poor federal spending without addressing that there should be NO federal money in our schools. Other than that, I enjoyed his passion, positions, and poise. If Ted was not so flawless, Marco would have been the winner.
- Carson and Paul-This is a tie for me. Carson is a very good man, possibly the most personable of the field. However, his answers fell a little flat until the end, but he ended incredibly strong. Paul was feisty and passionate. I thought he got the best of the sparring with Christie, although I did not get the same impression when watching the post-debate edited video. In context, he killed Christie. Out of context, he looked like a yippy puppy. Otherwise, his answers were solid all the way through.
- Huckabee-I am a very huge critic of the Huckster, but he is a skilled debater. I appreciate his declaration to try and overturn Roe v. Wade, but we all know that it is just completely unrealistic. He benefited from being able to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge questions on immigration and education—my two biggest issues with him.
- Fiorina-Like Cruz, she had a flawless performance. I put her down here simply because her lack of competition in the early debate made her seem miles ahead of everyone, whereas she is actually in line with a few of the main candidates.
- Christie-A skilled performer, Christie said a lot of the right things the right way. Unfortunately, his defense of poor state performance and history of scandals like “Bridgegate” and the possibility that he single-handedly handed Obama the election in 2012 (which Paul expertly addressed in his “hug” comment) moves the big man down the list a bit. He’s only this high because of his style is great. Substance, however, he lacks.
- Walker-Was Scott Walker on stage? I would have barely known he was even there, which is good for him. He did not make headlines, but he also did not make waves. I liked his answer on abortion—life of the baby or life of the mother is a false choice. However, if all other options were removed from the table (an unlikely scenario given modern medical techniques, but I suppose it can possibly happen), I would always choose the life of the mother. He handled it well, and let those around him implode. It was a safe debate, but we will see him again.
- Kasich-Like Walker, Kasich just seemed to exist. All I came out of it knowing was that he balanced the budget, made Ohio suck less, and his dad was a mailman. I do not think he stands a chance, but he will be a viable candidate as a cabinet member someday.
- Trump-I liked half of his answers. Unfortunately, every time I started to agree, he ruined it by being Trump. Yes, we are to politically correct, but that does not mean you should attack every person who challenges you. Trump is incredibly thin skinned. He bullies people. I also HATED his answers that include “using the laws” and “buying politicians” to build his empire. While his bankruptcies were legal, they were not ethical. He cheated to get rich, we know it and he flaunts it. Even through all that, his performance was entertaining enough that he will still dominate the news cycle. His strongest supporters will dig in deeper, but I think he lost some of the ones on the fence. I predicted that the debate format would produce soundbytes, but skilled debaters like Cruz and Paul would overshadow him. Both came true, but he was not the worst of the night.
- Bush-As the “front-runner” over all but Trump, Bush faded throughout the night. He tried to stand out at first, but proved to be mortal. His biggest issues are being a Bush, immigration, and education. He doubled down on his support for a pathway to citizenship (amnesty, regardless of denial) and Common Core. Even if you do believe in Common Core only on the state level (which it is not, and he doesn’t regardless of what he said last night), the curriculum itself is awful. It was designed by non-educators, makes no sense, and teaches to the test rather than learning. The entire concept is awful. Jeb did a very poor job in standing out in any positive, believable way.
- Perry-He had an average second place performance in the early debate. Unfortunately, I believe he would have looked even worse with the big boys. I like Perry, but he is simply bad in debates.
- Pataki-This guy had some decent points, and his delivery was good, but he is just so irrelevant.
- Santorum-When asked if his time had passed, Santorum should have answered “yes”. Sorry Rick, but your time has come.
- Jindal-A non-factor, really. I like the guy, but no one cares about him. He did nothing to change that last night.
- Gilmore-He came to the debate as an unknown, and left the same way. I cannot even remember which state he was a governor—or was it a senator—see? I still know nothing about him.
- Graham-He is the worst of the worst. His delivery seemed as though he just woke up, fell down the stairs, and took morphine to ease his pain. He was clearly reading his responses, and I doubt that he actually wrote them. My favorite part was his view on women’s health—which he somehow turned into killing ISIS. I think he would send our troops overseas to fight anyone whose name is Muhammad for any reason whatsoever. Beheading Christians? Go to war. Chanting “death to America”? Go to war. Chewing bubble gum? Go to war. He is insane. His performance was so bad, that S. Carolina should immediately seek to remove him from the Senate and lock him away in a padded room with only a copy of the Koran to read.