Tuesday’s Fox Business Republican Debate was quite the breath of fresh air. After the monstrous travesty that was the CNBC debate two weeks ago, both of Tuesday’s debates were substantive, interesting, and policy-specific. Without further ado, here are my rankings of each candidate:
Donald Trump: C. According to some some national polls, Donald Trump has dropped an astonishing twelve points since the beginning of September. Nonetheless, he has been the ostensible frontrunner since a few weeks after he entered the race, which is impressive for any candidate. This summer of outsiders seems to be giving way to the autumn of real contenders, as candidates like Cruz and Rubio are making significant headway in the polls. Trump needed to prove that he was a real contender in Tuesday’s debate, and he barely had a presence on this stage. Not a terrible performance, but not one that will buttress his tenuous lead over the rest of the field.
Ben Carson: C. The candidate that has contributed most to the Trump windfall has been Carson, who turned in an adequate debate performance Tuesday. He is not a serious candidate for president, and didn’t even come close to looking like one. But he is still a good man with a keen sense of humor, as evidenced by numerous witty exchanges with the moderators. Carson’s biggest drawback is his ardent commitment to being the most boring man on the stage. Everyone likes Carson, but likability isn’t enough to be a competent commander-in-chief (See: Carter, Jimmy).
Marco Rubio: A. Once again, Senator Marco Rubio steals the night right out from under the other candidates. In a clash with fellow candidate Rand Paul on foreign policy, Rubio had his breakout moment when describing the imperativeness of a strong American presence in the world. Rubio is a clarion voice for a strong national defense, and constantly and articulately advocates for American hegemony around the world. Additionally, Rubio displayed exceptional command of an ideal regulatory structure of a dynamic 21st century economy, and by far looked the most presidential on stage. Rubio is truly a commander-in-chief who can lead the world in this unprecedentedly dangerous time, with gravitas and exceptional leadership. Chalk this performance up as Senator Rubio’s fourth consecutive win!
Ted Cruz: A. Senator Cruz turned in another great performance tonight, as his stellar debate chops are finally on full display. Cruz’s breakout moment came when discussing immigration, an issues that he clearly holds near to his heart. However, Cruz had a Perry-esque moment when detailing the federal agencies he would eliminate, and said that he would cut the Department of Commerce twice. It remains to be seen how that stumble will affect Cruz in the polls but overall, Cruz’s answers were substantive, passionate, and succinct. To paraphrase something I saw while scrolling through Twitter, the Cubans are definitely making it to the ninth inning!
Jeb Bush: B-. At this point, Governor Bush is treading water. Bush turned in a good performance when he desperately needed to turn in an excellent performance. At the last debate, Bush completely ran into a lawnmower when questioning Rubio. It was good for Bush that he avoided such a moment Tuesday, but you can’t acquire a reward without risking something, and Bush played it too safe. Bush needed a breakout moment to cement his position as the number one guy in the establishment lane, but failed to do so. All in all, this was an adequate performance from an adequate candidate.
Carly Fiorina: B-. Fiorina performed adequately at this debate, but we already knew she would. Ever since her breakout performance at the first undercard debate, and a stellar performance at the second debate, it has all been downhill for Fiorina. The unfortunate problem for Fiorina is that she simply cannot capitalize on the anger as well as Trump can. One line that was completely laughable was that she was constantly thinking of ways to grow jobs at HP, when in reality she fired 30,000 people and seemed to relish in firing them. I don’t get her appeal, but I suppose she would be a good vice presidential candidate.
John Kasich: F. Since most of Kasich’s performance consisted of him screaming at the latest inanimate object or ranting against how terrible the GOP is, I have no choice but to give him an F. Kasich is truly the most unlikeable guy that has run for president in recent memory, and his famous cantankerousness was on full display. I’m sick of his sermons, and I’m sick of seeing him on the main stage, and I’m sick of a patronizing, self-righteous liberal Democrat masquerading as a budget-balancing conservative. Chris Christie should have been on that stage instead of this fraud. Bye Felicia!
Rand Paul: B. Anyone that knows me personally knows that I run opposite to Paul on many fronts, most notably in the area of foreign policy and national security. So it might be a surprise to some that I’m going to say something good about Paul here, but I think he turned in a good debate performance Tuesday. I’ve always said that Paul needed to hit the reset button on his campaign in order to limp into Iowa, and it appears that he finally took my advice. Paul had a bigger presence on stage than Trump, and that is certainly saying a lot for both of their respective candidacies. I think we will see a slight bump in the polls for Paul, at least in Iowa, where he might take back some of Cruz’s supporters that were disaffected Ron Paulites.
Chris Christie: A. Wow. This was truly a special performance by Christie, who had a Fiorina-esque performance on the undercard stage. It is clear that Christie is one of the most natural politicians running for President, with a raw charisma and a swagger that sets him apart from most of the field. Christie basked in the limelight, and took on petty attacks from his rivals with characteristic confidence and aplomb. If Jeb Bush continues to falter, Christie could easily make his way into the establishment lane, and become a formidable force in New Hampshire. Being on the undercard stage was probably the best thing to happen to Christie’s candidacy.
Mike Huckabee: B.
Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum: F. Just drop out, guys.
Winners: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Fox Business moderators
Losers: JOHN KASICH, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum