Now as to last night, here is the way I saw it. Going into the debate, Trump’s outrageous comments on Muslims—totally void of any understanding of how much he was further complicating the fight against ISIL—seemed to only bolster his support. The assumption was that more reasonable candidates would take him on. But, in the end, only Governor Jeb Bush made it his focus and maybe helping his own cause but I doubt, for now, hurting the Donald. Senator Cruz backed away from any fight with Trump and instead took on Senator Rubio. What will be interesting is whether the comments from the candidates with executive experience, making it clear that Senate experience is often more about talk and banter, will have an impact going forward.
And consistent with earlier debates, there were no direct questions pushing the candidates to explain how they were going to actually get something done, like who would be their foreign policy advisers for example. This allowed most of the candidates to focus on shots at the current administration and pushing their rhetoric with the hope that their lack of executive experience would be passed over. Fortunately, Governors Kasich and Christie took the initiative to not just push their experience but linked it to getting the job actually done. I was particularly impressed with Kasich for making it clear that working across the aisle and being willing to compromise would be essential to getting anything actually done.