The only winners from last night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire were John Kasich and, to a lesser extent, Chris Christie (only because of the points he scored off Marco Rubio). But no one else did well enough to move the meter.
Donald Trump may have jumped the shark. The audience did not like his attack on Jeb Bush, and they certainly didn’t like Trump’s attack on them. I say “may have” because he’s recovered before. However, if he doesn’t do as well in New Hampshire as the last batch of polls predicted, or if he begins to slip, then the bloom may be off the Trump rose for the rest of primary season.
Marco Rubio’s #RubioGlitch was very bad – so bad it may actually hurt his primary results Tuesday. It was bad not just because it was a misstep, but because it goes to the heart of the complaints about his candidacy – that he’s not ready. And his awkward defense of himself in the face of Christie’s attacks showed just how ill-prepared he was. Will it be fatal? Not if Rubio does a boffo performance at the next debate. If he doesn’t, the narrative will take hold and he won’t recover.
The debate as a whole was a disappointment, especially for the awkward beginning. While it’s fun to ridicule the candidates for apparently not knowing how to walk out on stage, it appears to be that Ben Carson did not hear his name called, and that’s why he just stood there. That said, watching a stagehand *twice* tell him to go on and him remaining rooted to the spot looked terrible, and set the tone for the whole affair. It was an extremely awkward moment that will live in political debate lore.
The moderators didn’t come off much better. Way too many times they missed opportunities to follow up on the candidates’ claims, many of which deserved to be challenged. It seemed like they were only there to toss out pre-planned questions, and weren’t actually listening to the responses.