The Fox News Moderators came to play and brought tough, pointed questions to commence the 2016 GOP debate series.
In an animated debate that saw a little of everything, a hand-raising question asked to all, but clearly directed to Donald Trump started the evening.
Trump was the sole hand-raiser when asked if a third-party campaign is in the realm of possibility.
After that compelling beginning, the debate got underway.
Here are the takeaways.
The Trump Show- With 17 candidates in the field (and 10 on the debate stage) airtime is already at a premium. Factor in, having outspoken eccentric billionaire Donald Trump as the front runner and gaining attention becomes all the more difficult. As predicted, Trump was the center of attention. He engaged in pointed exchanges with moderators Chris Wallace and Megyn Kelly. His message seemed to center on our leaders are stupid and theirs are smart. He claimed “I would say he (Barack Obama) is incompetent, but I’m not going to because that’s not nice.” If there was any question of which Donald Trump would come, the answer is there is only one.
Best Surprise- Awarded to Marco Rubio.
Rubio has been consistently referred to as a “rising star in the GOP.” Tonight’s debate demonstrated why he is an immense political talent. He was charismatic, polished, and rhetorically powerful throughout the evening. He emphasized small business and proposed limiting regulations, and repealing both ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank. To date Rubio’s campaign has been quiet, this debate may help to re-assert his relevancy as a serious contender for the nomination.
Fight of the Night- Rand Paul vs Chris Christie on liberty and security.
The debate by and large avoided skirmishes. However Rand Paul and Chris Christie did get heated over the Senator’s filibuster of the Patriot Act. Christie noted that Paul’s stance makes America more vulnerable and that there is a big difference between blowing air in a subcommittee and protecting the American people. Paul argued the Governor is “fundamentally misunderstanding the Bill of Rights” and suggested Christie go hug Obama again.
Throughout the evening, Paul seemed a little too trigger-ready and failed to dominate the discussion on his bread and butter issues.
It is a long battle for the nomination and we often forget how early we are in the process. There may be some shuffling in the polls, but there certainly was not an extreme enough result tonight to dramatically alter the outlook of the race.
Candidates are looking to position themselves in that top tier for there are likely only a handful of tickets out of Iowa and New Hampshire.
Most of the time a solid B+/A- debate performance will keep a candidate right in line with his/her trajectory.
The race is certainly off, and if this debate is any indication we are in for an intriguing campaign.
(Photo Credit: NBC News)