Who Won, Lost the GOP Debate

Cruz getting mostly good marks, Trump not so much
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2016 6:26 AM CST
Who Won, Lost the GOP Debate
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and businessman Donald Trump argue as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich listen during a Republican presidential primary debate at Fox Theatre on Thursday in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The newly narrowed GOP field of Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich went at it again Thursday night. Here's a sampling of some of the post-debate analysis:

  • Cruz had "his best debate of the primary season," writes Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, showing "prosecutorial chops when making the case that Donald Trump was neither a real conservative nor someone who could win the White House." Kasich also did well, but Cillizza places Trump ("took real body blows" and showed "wafer-thin understanding of policy") and Rubio (on a "kamikaze mission against Trump") in the "losers" category.
  • "Cruz the winner. Rubio solid & feisty at times, but role seemed reversed w/ Cruz from last debate," tweets Guy Benson of Town Hall. "Kasich hit his marks. Trump was Trump."

  • Kasich won by staying above the fray and improving his position "in the grand Trump sabotage plan," which might involve a brokered convention, writes Dylan Matthews at Vox. Rubio, meanwhile, flailed at Trump so much he failed to make "an affirmative argument for his candidacy." He "was dead before tonight, and the debate mostly served to remind the public why."
  • At the Atlantic, David A. Graham isn't very charitable to any of the candidates. "The funny thing about Trump's rough performance was that no one else did especially well, either," he writes. Cruz gave "a middling performance, with much of his emphasis on the fact that he'd beaten Trump in a few states," while Rubio "was hoarse and seemed shrunken, chastened, and at sea" as he tried to out-shout Trump. When Kasich surfaced, it was to spout "capsule history lessons."
  • But this surely qualifies as good news for Trump: "In a striking moment, all of Mr. Trump's rivals on stage indicated that they would support him if he became the Republican nominee," notes the New York Times. "The consensus was especially unusual in the case of Mr. Rubio, who has been caustically attacking Mr. Trump as a 'con man.'"
  • As does this from Eric Bradner at CNN: Yes, Trump struggled on substantive issues and came under heavy attack, but "what else is new?" he asks. "None of the debates so far have changed the trajectory of the race."
(Read more Republican debate stories.)

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