Wednesday night was the second round of the Republican debates for the 2016 campaign cycle. It was hosted by CNN and moderated by anchor Jake Tapper at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Participants included Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, and Scott Walker. For a candidate review, click here.

Since the last debate, these are the changes in the Republican field:

  • Rick Perry has dropped out of the race, due to a lack of money and polling very low. Also what hurts is the fact that the Texas Governor was indited by a Grand Jury last summer (he may have coaxed someone out of office with money). There are 16 left.
  • Carly Fiorina has been moved from the happy hour debate to the main debate (which today included Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki).
  • Ben Carson has caught up to Donald Trump in the polls. He is now polling within 4 points of Trump in New Hampshire.

After a few glasses of wine, I just finished watching the 3-hour debate. Overall, it was a game of catch-up for many candidates. It’s no secret Trump has been polling high in the past few months, and a lot of the rest of the field has been scraping for face time. This time, Trump was kept at bay and it seemed to equate to more face time for a lot of other candidates.

I would mark this debate as a win for Carly Fiorina and Marco Rubio. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie did a bit better, as well. 

Some of my favorite highlights from tonight included Carly Fiorina’s response to a Rolling Stone magazine interview, in which Trump had remarked “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” As a rebuttal tonight, prompted by a debate question, Carly said simply:

“I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.

MIC DROP. Such a great, single-line response to all of the ridiculousness that has come out of Trump’s mouth regarding women in the past few months. Fiorina also gave a lot of clear, concise answers to questions and seemed very strong and calm on stage.

As for the rest:

  • Ben Carson, the man in second place, was overly reserved and didn’t contribute much.
  • Rubio was very strong on foreign policy. As he should, since he is a Cuban-American and has been very outspoken on that particular foreign issue.
  • Ted Cruz also talked a big foreign policy game against the Iranian nuclear deal.
  • Jeb Bush spent a lot of time defending his family – including his wife and his brother – which was nice to see. Although he did recommend putting Margaret Thatcher (a Brit) on the $10 bill (what?!).
  • Rand Paul was the only one that supported legalizing marijuana, while calling out Jeb Bush for smoking it in the past. Bush jumped in to come clean, and his twitter account later tweeted @JebBush: “Sorry mom.” Twitter win of the night.
  • Chris Christie at first seemed like he was scraping for face time, but he did call out Fiorina’s and Trump’s success, stating that “No one wants to hear about your careers” and urged them to stop arguing “childishly” about their business decisions.
  • Trump was also very reserved, compared to recent events and the last debate on Fox. He most notably spoke against vaccinations (saying they cause Autism, in which Dr. Carson alluded he was wrong) and mentioned that he “wasn’t taking money from anybody” for his campaign. OH, and slammed Bush for speaking Spanish on the campaign trail, saying essentially that since we’re in America, he should speak English. (FYI, there is no national language in the U.S.)
  • Kasich didn’t say anything too memorable, in my opinion. Seems to be the most authentic “Reagan” Republican – meaning, he’s not too extreme and more moderately conservative. Maybe that’s why he faded in memory.
  • Huckabee had to defend his comment last week, saying that “the Dred Scott decision is still the law of the land” in relation to the Kim Davis marriage license issue. This provoked a discussion of the report card of the current Supreme Court justices. (For those who slept through history class, Dred Scott was a Supreme Court decision in the mid-1800s in which a slave was ruled to still be property of his master, although he had been living in a free state for over a year. So yeah, ancient history.)

It will be interesting to see what happens to poll numbers in the coming weeks. I predict we will be seeing a surge in Fiorina and Rubio and likely a decrease in Carson and Trump. Stay tuned, stay smart, and stay informed.

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