The marathon debate, as we will call it, took us further than we ever planned on running. Though Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, kept planting seeds of contention, few got watered. Despite a few tiffs between the eleven candidates at times, they kept a cohesive spirit as if being on the same team. Carly and Christie pointed out often that it was Hillary Clinton they were calling out to own up on the real issues. The following analysis by Washington Times captured the essence.
1. A clear winner
2. The Winners
Carly Fiorina: Her calm and firm grasp of policy, her coy counterattacks on Donald Trump and her forceful presentation of specific ideas made a clear case she belongs on the main stage going forward.
Chris Christie: He’s not a favorite of the conservative base but on Wednesday night he put his strongest credentials forward as a national security thinker and likely won points with everyday Americans.
Marco Rubio: His succinct policy prescriptions on national security issues ranging from Iran to Russia introduced the country to his strongly held beliefs on foreign policy.
3. The Seat Warmers
Jeb Bush: He positioned himself as a candidate with experience and a desire to pursue policy with common sense and thoughtfulness.
Scott Walker: He kept his record and affinity for Reagan front and center and did nothing to hurt his standing as a common-sense Midwestern governor with a clearly conservative record.
4. The Losers
Donald Trump: This debate was inevitably stacked to put him on defense, with 10 rivals and the debate moderators armed to the hilt with his past gaffes, temperamental statements and braggadocio.
Rand Paul: His presence felt small on a stage full of big, confident personalities, perhaps best evidenced by his difficult time trying to win time to respond to Mr. Trump’s claim he was the only candidate on stage to oppose the Iraq war.
Ben Carson: His poll numbers likely won’t be hurt by Wednesday’s event since his strength is likeability.
5. Did not win
6. Debate Two separated the pack