Differences over immigration, foreign policy and the economy dominated Tuesday night’s GOP presidential primary debate as sharp contrasts among the candidates emerged. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz showed confidence. Jeb Bush didn’t provide the signature performance he needed. Rand Paul had his moments, Carly Fiorina stayed strong. Ben Carson stayed calm. John Kasich struggled to get involved and Donald Trump stuck to the rules. The only clear loser in the forum was the ding-dong doorbell Fox Business Network used as a timer. It was consistently ignored.
Some of the highlights (or lowlights):
• Bush stumbling over his words early. He seemed to feel it was a high-stakes event for him and he was simply nervous.
• Rand Paul reminding Trump that China is not part of the TPP trade agreement after Trump railed against the agreement and China.
• Fiorina, Cruz and Bush invoking these ineffective stories of first-name-only people they supposedly met. It doesn’t work anymore unless they clearly identify them.
• Rubio drawing clear distinctions on defense with Paul who Rubio called “a committed isolationist.”
• Trump supporting letting Russia’s Putin have at it with ISIS which seemed to actually frighten the other candidates and the moderators.
• Kasich sounding a reality check to Trump and others about proposals to deport the 11 million illegal immigrants that are in the country.
• Paul nailing Rubio as a big-spending Republican.
• Fiorina continuing to skate by with no specifics whatsoever.
• Carson claiming that raising the minimum wage would increase joblessness. More than 600 top economists and Nobel Prize winners say that’s not true.
• Rubio claiming welders make more money than philosophers.
• Bush saying Russia had no influence in Syria before the rise of ISIS when actually, Russia has been propping up Assad for decades.
• Cruz saying the tax code has more words than the Bible. So does “War and Peace” but we don’t claim to be able to cut it down to three pages.
• Carson trumpeting his tax plan which won’t pass and won’t work.
Fox Business Network’s self-congratulatory “we’re better than CNBC” was pathetic. Even the usually serious Charles Krauthammer of FOX News declared the FBN moderators “the winners” of the undercard debate. Lou Dobbs was the between-debates anchor and he was terrible. Star-struck, gushing over the candidates and generally scrambled, Dobbs was a big fail.
In addition to using what sounded like the theme from the “A-Team” as its theme music, moderating Neil Cavuto couldn’t help himself when he gave a parting shot at rival CNBC by celebrating that FBN moderators were not “the story.”