How many times have I commented that Donald Trump had a bad debate, only to then see him win the vote afterwards? That doesn’t deter me. Here goes: Donald Trump was taken down more than a few pegs in last night’s Texas debate. He practically shrank in stature while standing on the stage. Now, will that translate into greater sanity at the ballot box this coming Tuesday?
The reason for Trump’s worst debate performance to date is that both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio finally figured out they needed to man up and tackle him directly. No more of this “my good friend, Donald” approach, but being brutally honest publicly about a good many of Trump’s shortcomings.
Rubio was marvelous in mocking Trump’s constant repetition of words and phrases, humorously recalling his own stumble back in the New Hampshire debate. He was quite articulate throughout on a variety of issues and showed he could stand up to Trump even when the latter thought the best policy was to reprise his role as The Constant Interruptor.
Cruz also didn’t let up. He pressed Trump on a number of points and again proved his mastery of issues. As with Rubio, Cruz didn’t back down when Trump did his best to disrupt Cruz’s comments.
Trump was his insulting self, particularly petty toward questioner Hugh Hewitt, who reminded him that he had promised, when being interviewed on Hewitt’s radio program, to release his tax returns. When Hewitt reminded him of that promise, Trump’s riposte was to denigrate Hewitt by saying his ratings are dismal.
That’s the tried-and-not-so-true Trump tactic: when you don’t have a real answer, be rude to the questioner and find a way to call him a “loser.”
For me, the most satisfactory result of this evening, besides seeing Trump being challenged and revealing his vulnerabilities, was the way both Cruz and Rubio focused on Trump and barely attacked one another. I’ve been waiting for that. For the first time, they awoke to the reality that the real problem is the man who stood between them on that stage, not one another.
Trump’s diehard supporters won’t be fazed by any exposure of their idol’s falseness. Real hope lies with those voting on Tuesday who may have had their eyes opened watching this debate. I pray there were a multitude of those.