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Debate Ends In Bloody Tie

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  • Thursday’s debate was heated with everyone attacking everyone.
  • Trump, Cruz, and Rubio continue to look good with no one else really doing much.
  • Notably absent was Rand Paul who has been using the media well to cover his lack of invite.

It’s no secret Sen. Ted Cruz is an excellent debater. We saw the gloves come off early. He eviscerated Donald Trump on the “birther” issue in a well-prepared, methodical way. Cruz rattled Trump in a way we hadn’t seen before. He extracted an admission from Trump that he’s only going after him now because of how close the polls are, and that if he lost, he’d happily “go back to building buildings if this doesn’t work out.” It made him look petty.

But while Cruz got the better of Trump early on, it didn’t last.

Trump effectively neutralized Cruz’s momentum in his response to the “New York values” attack. Without a doubt, that was one of Trump’s best moments of all the debates. Despite the ugliness early on, Trump showed rhetorical skill in a measured tone not often seen on the campaign trail. Trump also managed not to fade away the way he has in past debates. Bottom line, he didn’t hurt himself, and his support will remain strong.

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And Cruz is not the only one who demonstrated strong debating skills. Marco Rubio came into this debate with the largest target on his back after taking incoming attacks from the other candidates vying for the consolidated establishment vote, mainly Jeb Bush and Chris Christie. More than once he inserted himself into exchanges with superior knowledge of the issues, from a vociferous defense of the Second Amendment to taxes to national security. He cleverly turned the immigration issue around, using what is usually a vulnerability for him to focus on how ISIS can manipulate our current immigration system and the threat it poses. Will that satisfy weary conservatives? That remains to be seen.

The jabs between Cruz and Rubio started in the last debate with Cruz inflicting damage on Rubio. But not Thursday night. It was Rubio who threw down the gauntlet against Cruz in a fierce, 30-second, laser-focused listing of several policy flip-flops by Cruz. Rubio said “that’s not conservative consistency, that’s political calculation.”

Cruz attempted to rebut by claiming Rubio’s attacks weren’t true, but Rubio shot back, “That’s your record.” It was Rubio’s drop-the-mic moment.

As we get closer to Iowa, I suspect that won’t be the last one.

Tara Setmayer is former communications director for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, and a CNN political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @tarasetmayer.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  • Charles Tilley says:

    I disagree ,I think Trump won the Debate . Trump 2016 !

  • Herbie James says:

    go Trump

  • Richard says:

    Trump is the man of the hour.

  • JAMES WEISBECKER says:

    TRUMP SAYS ALL THE RIGHT THINGS AS I SEE IT! I HOPE HE IS SINCERE!!!!

  • Quinn Frederickson says:

    TRUMP WON hands down all the polls show it

  • Gloria says:

    Cruz beat himself last night! He should have just kept quiet and he might have fared better. Rubio should know by now that regular people can recoginize a lie in a heartbeat!

  • Terry says:

    Cruz did really well as good debater and acted not reacted.
    Trump does well as a reactionary.
    Rubio did what he could.

  • Art Dion says:

    There’s only One Donald Trump !

  • Dave says:

    for the same reasons you mention in your article.

  • Vicki says:

    Trump won it, hands down. Cruz blew it by alienating New York voters. Dumb move, and Trump won New York for sure on that exchange. Trump was correct about a lawsuit against Cruz. One was filed today. Cruz’ backers must be disappearing about now. Rubio has a vacancy sign on his seat in the Senate as he’s missing most of the time. That should be enough to take him down. Jeb is the Bush that never will be President. I like Christie but he’s had a lot of issues in New Jersey that are unresolved. I like Carly and she would get everything back on track, but I fear she’s having trouble connecting with the people…no emotion. Forget Kasech. Dr Ben is a great guy but out of his element in politics.
    They all stepped up their game this debate, including Huckerbee & Santorum, but some candidates should leave now. I hear the billionaires dumped Jeb for Rubio so Jeb & Kasech should be leaving. Trump ended Jeb’s run on a previous debate. My money’s on Trump if America wants to save the country. Problem is, are they awake and paying attention to their REAL & LOOMING issues? I don’t know…probably not. They’re living the Matrix life & want to keep it that way. Scary.

  • ed says:

    Trump was rather on the quiet side last night until Cruz got him started about the New York Values. Trump hit back hard and put Cruz in his place, which is second. Also the citizenship question is something that needs to be addressed by the high Court once and for all. I am not sure which Candidate is correct

  • ken connors says:

    Trump won hands down . Cruz was #2 then Rubio

  • Sharen Lyons says:

    Trump always wins in my book. I, for one, will NEVER AGAIN vote for a career politician. I like Cruz, and trust him most of the career politicians. Can’t say anything good about Rubio, other than he talks a good talk.

  • george nases sr says:

    the Donald won it

  • george nases sr says:

    the Donald won it

  • ,Mike Mcbride says:

    These are reel men. God bless them

  • Emmett Gloyna says:

    Cruze won miles above Trump and even more above Rubio. Rubio is a liberal front man for the old line do-nothing Republicans in the Senate.

  • Lori says:

    I think Trump won hands down

  • Linda says:

    rubio IS ILLEGAL………more so that Cruz. Neither of Rubio’s parents were American citizens when he was born. If Rubio wins the nomination…………I will not vote for the first time in my life…………he is a lying rino…………..as is ryan.

  • Charles R Jones says:

    It may of ended in a tie with what was said, however Donald Trump is the still best one to be our next President of the United States.

  • Sandra Lynn Wagner says:

    Cruz is the only candidate who articulates his position, backs up his position and remains calm and unrelenting when attacked by his opponents or the press. He has conservative values, he has backbone and he has persona suitable for leadership. He looks, speaks and more importantly, acts presidential.

  • Name says:

    The furor over the New York Values were not addressed by Donald Trump as being against the Twin Towers Heroes . The attack was against the United States Of America! The heroes were men and women of our great country. They responded as citizens of the United States of America, as American citizens!

  • Arizona Don says:

    Two of the three people said to be in the top three have a eligibly issue hanging over their head. Cruz being born in Canada, and Rubio being born here but neither parent was a citizen at the time. Right now Cruz is being called out (by the way it was NOT Donald Trump that brought this point up) and just raising the question puts doubt in many peoples mind. The question needs to be settled judicially.

    If Rubio manages to move up in the polls he too will be questioned perhaps more brutally then Cruz. Of the two he may very well be the most vulnerable. Even though these two situations are different if the judicial system (hopefully the SCOTUS) defines Natural Born Citizen it will/would solve both problems. If not theses problems will have to be decided individually. However, congress also has the authority to determine the eligibly issue. McConnell will not consider that because he hates Cruz. Politics as usual!

    What we are up against here is not a decision on who wins debates that question will be answered come next November. Those who declare winners are trying to sway voters. What we are up against is a battle to see if free enterprise survives or we become a socialistic communist or fascist caliphate ruled by sharia law. That is the current path obama’s fundamental transformation is taking us. Perhaps many are not willing to even consider the path this transformation is taking us on but just as many can see that path clearly.

    There are those who see obama wanting to, more and more, restrict arms against the second amendment as a service to the people by wanting to protect them. I have to admit he is putting on a good, but phony, act. Nothing however, could be farther from the truth. If he cannot get the weapons at least much more restricted he has no chance of completing his promised fundamental transformation. If hillary followers him and is elected the movement toward a caliphate may end but the movement will begin toward a monarchy and the destruction of the Republic will continue. Perhaps to a conclusion one way or the other.

    America will “not” much longer go down this road of corruption without open revolt.

  • Diane Tschida says:

    I think Donald Trump has beaten all of them.
    Rubio should be second and Cruz lost it with
    his comments about New York.

  • Name says:

    I totally disagree! First, they all have the same dumb, war mongering policies. What a waste of time & money. This spectacle is one of the main reasons why the rest of the world feels this country is weak. No matter which one from the”Insurgent Party(republicans)wins the nomination, neither one of them will win the White House! All one has to do is to listen to their retoric. They are bigots, greedy, power hungry white males. The only support they have are those like themselves, and the rest of this country is the majority. I can’t wait for them to again exhibit how much they care about the country & the people, just as they exhibited during President Obama’s term. Hateful, mean, greedy, dishonest, liers, bigots.

  • Rick Tenny says:

    I would dispute the authors opening remarks on Trump. He is a Citizen who has become a reluctant Politician. He has watched are Nation run by Professional Politicians all his life. (I’m three years older than Trump and I know the soap opera he has watched.) Cruz is a Professional Politician and a practiced speaker. I don’t really care who was the captain of the debating tea.m, I care who about who is the best candidate to turn the Country around. I think prior political experience is a detriment this time around. There is only one candidate in this race who isn’t owned by someone or some group and that is Trump. Carson and Fiorina are nonpolitical but they are running on someone else’s money. For me that puts Trump miles ahead of the others. At least you know what your getting is motivated by what he believes. You could put Rubio or Cruz in the same catagory. They are both career politicians with their name on votes they don’t want us to know about. For me it’s Trump all the way. Just our votes will send a message to the king makers about we the people.

  • Matthew N. Feller says:

    I TOTALLY DISAGREE WITH YOU TRUMP MADE HIS CASES AND I AGREE WITH HIM TOTALLY

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