Please disable your Ad Blocker to better interact with this website.

Post-Debate Post Mortem: Cruz crushes media, opposition

Ted Cruz CNBC Debate

The following conversation took place Wednesday night in a nondescript social media chat, somewhere in Central Iowa. The opinions expressed herein are those of the participants, not necessarily The Iowa Statesman.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman — Editor, The Iowa Statesman

Before we dig into this debacle … I mean debate … how did each of you prepare for what will likely be the biggest two-week span of the race? I took some time with family. Krusty? Jon, what about you guys?

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative — Dictator of the Iowa Blogosphere

I’ve spent the last two weeks traveling around Iowa, listening to likely Republican caucus voters to get inside their heads and figure out what they’re actually going to do, rather than what the polls say we’re going to do.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Yeah, I took some heat from people who think I’m tinfoil hat crazy for suggesting the polls are being used to manipulate the electorate. So, I guess we’ll learn more about that later.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Oh, definitely.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist — On the Front Lines of the Culture War

I have been talking with pastors around the state to get a sense of where they’re at in this race. Not surprisingly, they’re all over the place. I even had a couple of them say they might not go to the caucus this year.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Well, I’m sure we’ll all be looking forward to learning more about those conversations next week.

Let’s get into tonight’s debates, now, starting with the “Happy Hour” debate. I thought Jindal did the best, Santorum was kind of stuck in neutral, and the other two guys just need to start planning an exit strategy.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Jindal vs. Santorum, with some ridiculously bad one-liners from Graham, was more informative than the second debate — again — but just isn’t inspiring to me. Two fairly solid Christians, but they’re just not very inspiring.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

I think everyone lost tonight. And, despite what Reince Priebus had to say afterward, I think this is exactly what the RNC wanted. Why else would you put a debate on the JV squad of business networks? I’m with Bob on this one: the whole thing reeks, like Spam; processed, prepackaged, and nasty.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

So, let’s move on to the second “debate.” At this point, it seemed to moderators went off the rails. This was by far the worst of the debates.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Off the rails or on script? Either way, it sucked more than my wife’s Dyson.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Definitely the worst debate. I don’t watch CNBC, so I had no idea who these moderators were. Afterward, I was even less interested in finding out.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

The big feud of the night wasn’t Trump vs. Carson; it was Bush vs. Rubio. Who won that one?

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

That was ugly, particularly between two guys who were supposedly friends. No one wins in those situations, which means Trump and Carson won.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

I’d say America won. Those two clowns did a real number to each other, and anytime the Establishment loses, we win.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but you’re right, Krusty.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

I always am.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Moving on, then. Let’s go through the field, candidate by candidate, and pick our winners and losers. Let’s start at the outside and work our way to the middle of the stage.

Rand Paul. Got the least amount of time to speak and did almost nothing with it. I say he lost ground.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Wait, he was in the second debate? All kidding aside, his comments about Grandma and Grandpa having “too many kids” is going to leave a mark he might never live down. He lost ground big time.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

On that comment alone, he deserves to be the next one out. That’s unfortunate, because I don’t think too many of the supporters he did have left have anyone else they can naturally gravitate toward. When he drops out, Bob, I’d cut your caucus turnout projection by about 5,000.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Noted. Moving on, then … Chris Christie. He actually got some decent time in, and made relatively good use of it. His message sort of stinks, though. So, it’s hard for me to imagine he really helped himself. With the aforementioned implosions for Bush and Rubio, though, he may have picked up some steam in the Establishment ranks.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Yeah, that’s the only way he could be seen as a winner.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

He’s started polling in the 3- to 4-percent range. I think he stays there for a few more weeks as a result of this debate.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

John Kasich. He got a lot of airtime tonight and did his best to provoke confrontations with Trump. He’s still bat-guano crazy and sounding more and more like a Blue Dog every day. I think he’s stuck in neutral, but could he be the Establishment’s Plan — what, X? — for the General Election?

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Ohio is always a battleground state in the General, so having Kasich in the race makes sense only in that he’s keeping a key state engaged in the process, but overall, it’s hurting the “team” concept Priebus has been trying to push on everyone. He definitely gets a win just by virtue of his airtime, but I don’t think it’ll help him in Iowa or South Carolina.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Unfortunately, his candyman routine is going to be very popular in purple and blue states, where the church has completely abandoned the Bible and replaced it with “social justice.” So, he wins some, he loses some. Stuck in neutral is about right.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Mike Huckabee. He also got some good face time. His debate-within-the-debate with Christie over Medicare and Social Security might help him with the blue-haired set, but is it going to resonate with the rest of the base? He seems to be playing with fire here, and he doesn’t particularly come off as the juggling type. I say slight winner.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

I don’t think enough Americans are aware of the danger those unfunded liabilities pose to our future generations. It’s out of sight, out of mind, and therefore not something that will hurt him. If he got more face time to talk about Fair Tax, in depth, I think he’d be winning big time.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

He got nearly as much airtime in this one debate as he got in the FOX News and CNN debates combined. That alone gets him a win. I agree with Jon, though. Not enough Americans are aware of the danger “entitlements” pose to our nation’s economic future.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Ted Cruz once again didn’t get the kind of airtime he deserved. He certainly made the most of it, though, so I’ve got him down as one of the night’s biggest winners.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

The man was on fire. I just wish he would give us a better solution to out-of-control courts than “appoint better judges.” I’m paraphrasing, of course, but Cruz was by far the biggest winner.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Cruz nailed it when he went after the moderators. They were horrible, their questions were insipid, and he crushed them. He definitely won.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Carly Fiorina won the airtime, but it seemed to me she had her worst debate of the campaign. She was already in free fall, but did she officially kill her campaign tonight? I think so.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

She definitely hurt her chances a lot.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

She got the most face time, and yet I can’t remember anything substantive that she said. She lost a lot of ground tonight.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Jeb Bush … we said he was done last time. He still lacked energy, except for when he went after Rubio, and he didn’t fight for any extra airtime. I won’t belabor it, because we’ve already discussed it, but he seemed to be among the biggest losers on the night.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Stick a fork in him. The only thing keeping him going is his money, but that’s going to run out quickly.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

He’s done, and I’m pretty sure he knows it.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Marco Rubio. Again, not going to belabor it, but he got hurt tonight.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Making his missed votes an issue definitely hurt.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Playing it off like it doesn’t matter didn’t help, that’s for sure.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Ben Carson. He invoked the 11th Commandment tonight and then stuck to it a lot more stringently than I think even Ronald Reagan did. As a result, he got almost no airtime, and when he did, he came off somewhat milquetoast. I don’t see how anyone can spin that as a win. But, I think his current supporters are going to like what they saw, so I’ll say he’s one of those who were stuck in neutral.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

He hurt himself with those who were looking at him as a potential leader. At the same time, his demeanor is what has endeared him to those who have gotten on his bandwagon. So, he didn’t help himself overall, but he’s not going to lose ground.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

I’m not going to give any spoilers for next week’s article, but Carson probably went into this debate knowing he couldn’t be touched. He played not to lose, which could come back to bite him later, but for today, it was good enough.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

OK, now Trump. I thought we got the same ol’ Donald we’ve been getting. Endearing to some, infuriating to others. He didn’t steal all the airtime tonight, but he certainly made good use of what he got. He showed he’s not going to wilt away, so I’d say it’s a win.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

I actually agree with that assessment. I didn’t expect anything different, but he did make some impactful statements that I thought reinforced his lock on his base. Again, no spoilers, but I’ll be talking about that a lot next week.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

He didn’t have Ted Cruz’ night, but he didn’t need to have it, either. He reinforced his message, which is still popular — despite what the media would like everyone to believe — and he showed he’s not going anywhere. He definitely scored a win.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

So, our winners were Christie (sort of), Huckabee, Cruz, and Trump. Of those, who would you say was the biggest winner? I’d say Cruz.

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Definitely Cruz, and he needed it most tonight.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Cruz wins another debate. Imagine that.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

So, the losers were Paul, Fiorina, Bush, Rubio, and everyone in the first debate. I won the last time I asked this question, but I’ll ask you guys again. Who will be the next to drop out?

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

Pataki, Graham, and Jindal. There isn’t any pressure, yet, for the others to drop out.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

Pataki, Graham, and Jindal. They needed a breakout performance tonight and none of them had one. Santorum seems to be running an impossible campaign right now; he’s not going anywhere until February.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Outside of those three, I think it’s going to be very difficult for Paul, Huckabee, and Fiorina to keep going much longer without a massive influx of cash. I know we just said Huckabee was a winner tonight, but his campaign is hurting financially, and his most recent press releases almost seem to have an air of desperation to them. His campaign isn’t looking like a duck on the water right now.

Any final thoughts?

 

Krusty IconKrusty Konservative

A lot of conservatives now understand why they didn’t know what channel CNBC was on the remote. I doubt they’ll be going back there anytime soon.

 

Jon IconJon the Southern Baptist

It’s looking more and more like a Trump-Carson-Cruz-Establishment (fill in the blank) race to Cleveland in 2016.

 

Bob IconBob Eschliman

Well, I think that wraps it up for today. We’ll be looking forward to Krusty and Jon’s articles next week, which I am told will both be well worth the read.