Saturday evening’s GOP presidential primary debate could easily be titled “The Governors Strike Back.” It’s been some time in coming and many felt the remaining GOP governors were on life support — then WHAM.
It’s been rather evident in this election cycle that many folks felt governors would have an upper hand — then came the early exits. We saw Governors Walker, Perry, Jindal fall out and Jim Gilmore is struggling — well, non-existent. What we witnessed Saturday night were individuals with executive experience make the case and address issues by referring to what they’d actually done. They responded with “how” when asked “what.”
Saturday night exposed the four others as lacking clear responses past, as Gov. Christie pointed out, the 25-second prepared response speech. We already have an inexperienced first-term senator occupying the White House and needless to say, for Senators Cruz and Rubio there’s much excitement — but they were challenged. And dare I say, they didn’t fare well.
Now, I understand folks have their favorites but I’m providing an objective assessment. Governors Bush, Christie, and Kasich owned the stage Saturday evening. Now the shame is this may have been a very poorly viewed debate, but there are plenty of reflective clips. And I must say, ABC did a pretty good job in moderating this debate (aside from the entrances), obviously learning from CNBC. Their inquiries were very fair and focused on policy solutions to the prevailing issues — and they were generous in the response times.
Here is what I see happening. This is no longer the three-person race that showed up on New Hampshire’s door. There is an opening for places two to four.The question will be, does Donald Trump get enough support from Republicans or since New Hampshire is an open primary will independent and Reagan Democrats show up for him? The momentum that Sen. Rubio had, well, it hit a brick wall, he did not comport himself very well in this debate. He knew what the attack would be coming his way, but simply failed in being able to counter the assault – as a matter of fact, he confirmed what Gov. Christie was saying about him, repeatedly.
The so-called GOP establishment banner position is still up for grabs and we may see Christie move up into third or perhaps second position. Gov. Bush without a doubt had his best debate Saturday night, but will this be enough? Gov. Bush MUST finish in the third or fourth position to maintain viability. Gov. Kasich is such a great policy wonk, but I believe his New York Times editorial board endorsement will hurt.
New Hampshire’s results will tell a different story than that of Iowa and that will be the story discussed Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. This is indeed a marathon and not a sprint and we’re starting to see who has the legs.
Here is my assessment. Sen. Ted Cruz will struggle in New Hampshire and he is hoping for a big sweep down South. Dr. Ben Carson, well, I don’t see his campaign going farther than South Carolina. I know him, a good man of high integrity, intelligence, and character — but in the end he was not ready for this stage.
I know, I know, folks gonna get their dander up at me, fine. But I’m not caught up in an emotional love affair with any of these candidates. I’m looking for someone who can convey the “how.”
In the end, I will support whomever the GOP nominee is, but will say this: Ms. Fiorina should have received an invite. I sincerely believe ABC didn’t want an opposing image to Hillary Clinton on that stage.
One final thing that’s interesting: New Hampshire has required voters show picture ID. That’s how it should be done.