The second Republican Presidential Debate occurred last night with much controversy and lively debate to no one’s surprise. We all suffered through three long hours to hear each candidate make their case for being the Republican Nominee for President in 2016. This debate was important to every single candidate there for obvious reasons but was also put into another context; the dropout of a highly qualified primary contender just days before. Rick Perry’s sudden (although not unexpected) leave of the primary contest gave this debate further importance by raising the question: who’s next?
I think the performance of three candidates plays into this question.
At the debate three candidates in particular stood out to me on their performance: Senator Rubio, Governor Christie, and Donald Trump. When comparing these three the first phrase that came to mind was “the good, the bad, and the ugly”. Although humorous, I do not believe this is a fair or accurate portrayal. Instead let’s label these as: The Statesman, The Unexpected Rising Star, and The Burning Debris.
Senator Marco Rubio is the Statesman. Senator Rubio showed great poise, attitude, grace, and a fantastic foreign policy knowledge. Senator Rubio has a compelling personal story, fantastic knowledge, and a dynamic personality.
Governor Christie is the Unexpected Rising Star. Governor Christie showed passion, security, and received greater attention than previously. Governor Christie has an impressive resume, strong national security credentials, and a strong personality.
Donald Trump is the Burning Debris. Trump was shown to be nasty, taken to task by several other candidates, and received less and less speaking time as the night progressed. Trump went to battle at the debate with Fiorina, Bush, well almost everyone on the stage. He lost almost every battle.
There were other minor parts that it seemed like others on the stage were also auditing for during the debate. Governor Huckabee and Ben Carson wanted to be the Great Peacemaker, Governor Kasich and Governor Bush the Great Moderate, and Governor Walker and Senator Paul the Great Snooze. Carly Fiorina was the Mighty Trump Slayer. Ted Cruz voted Present. However, these niches will not last.
The polls in the next two weeks will be crucial for each candidate. Outside of the three candidates first mentioned the rest of the crowd did not stand out. Although blending into the background is better than the beginning of self-destruction that Donald Trump began tonight, it is not a winning strategy.