The Republican candidates for president clashed in Miami on CNN. Unlike the previous few debates, this one was largely civil and substantive. The debate also didn’t have a whole lot of fireworks or memorable moments either.
The candidates all needed to change the narrative and stop Trump’s momentum. The problem is that they largely failed and the Trump train will only gain more steam with Ben Carson’s endorsement tomorrow.
Here’s who won and lost the 12th Republican debate:
1) Donald Trump: Trump was very civil and would not allow himself to be baited by Ted Cruz into making personal attacks. He even came off as…...presidential at times. Trump was also more substantive on some issues than usual. He most likely established himself as *the* frontrunner tonight. The only downside is that he may have been dinged in an exchange with Marco Rubio on Cuba, but our guess is that the Cuban-American vote by and large isn’t going to Trump. Also, most Americans and even Republicans are supportive of establishing relations with Cuba and ending the embargo, so Trump will take that.
2) Marco Rubio: Just as Rand Paul’s final debate was by far his best (he actually won that one), the debate that is likely Rubio’s final debate was his best. He was statesmanlike, articulate, and surprisingly energetic. Rubio was most effective on Cuba and on Israel. However, Rubio’s debate performance cannot mask the stench of death emanating from his campaign. It’s likely too little, too late to make a difference.
3) Ted Cruz: Not a terrible night, but not a great night either. It was an okay night. He tried to bait Trump into a fight, but Trump didn’t take it. Cruz was very lawyerly tonight. Also, no one believes Cruz is as anti-trade as he portrayed himself as tonight. In the end, he failed to make a serious challenge to Trump’s frontrunner status.
4) John Kasich: Kasich is running for VP at this point. Positive, but largely forgettable.