The Republican debate in Miami last night was a substantive event, especially for Cruz and Rubio. They ran rings around Trump when it came to knowledge of policy while he repeated his tired old lines about how everything in a Trump presidency will be “great” and how he will ensure that all the deals he will make will be “good.” Thesaurus anyone?
Trying very hard to look presidential, Trump refrained for the first time from interrupting the others (except for one swipe at Cruz). That actually allowed a genuine debate to take place.
For Rubio, this may have been the last gasp, and he took advantage of it, having his best debate ever. He was relaxed and confident, at ease in his home territory and schooling Trump on the problems with Cuba, in particular.
Cruz turned in a fine performance—solid, steady, and knowledgeable, as always. He may have stumbled a couple of times when appealing to people to join his campaign as the only one that can beat Trump. Not that he wasn’t correct, but it was a departure from the issue orientation of the evening.
In the same way as Rubio gave a lesson on the Cuban dictatorship to Trump, Cruz showed the frontrunner that a senator with a sharp legal background knows more about trade and tariffs than the supposed successful businessman. The Frank Luntz focus group gave Cruz a 100 on their dials when he explained how he would deal with the corrupt Washington establishment.
Cruz also scored with his impassioned support of Israel and the foolishness of being neutral between Israel and Palestinian terrorists. Trump then declared that he was the greatest supporter of Israel on the stage—without any corroborating evidence other than having Jewish friends and relatives. It was kind of humorous, in a sad way.
I’ll even admit that Kasich was better than usual, less annoying overall. But even if he wins his home state of Ohio, that will be the high point of his campaign.
Although Trump did put on a more presidential veneer, his constant air of superiority never diminished. It’s just so hard to watch that demeanor without wanting to shake the man and remind him he’s only a human being, not a mini-god.
And he apparently couldn’t help himself when he decided to step on Ben Carson’s news, to be broken today in a press conference, that he will support Trump. He couldn’t wait to allow Carson to make that statement first; he announced it in the debate.
So Ben Carson, whom Trump basically accused of being a child abuser, has no problem forgiving him for such comments, yet somehow can’t forgive Cruz for what overeager supporters did in Iowa?
Carson, the one who constantly called for civility in the campaign, is now endorsing the chief proponent of incivility?
I’ve always respected Carson, but this endorsement, following on his unwillingness to accept Cruz’s apologies, has diminished the man considerably. I hope he will eventually see the error of his ways.
Will this debate have any effect on Tuesday’s primaries? Will it give Rubio the surge he wants in Florida? Will Kasich hold off Trump in Ohio? Will Cruz be able to grab the huge delegate pool in North Carolina (larger even than Ohio’s)?
We await the results. The future of the republic may depend on what transpires next week.