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Tags: cruz | trump | debate | kasich

Cruz and Trump Come Out Swinging

Cruz and Trump Come Out Swinging

John Gizzi By Friday, 15 January 2016 09:41 AM EST Current | Bio | Archive

Ted Cruz’s “birther issue” and Donald Trump’s “New York values” took center stage at the Republican debate Thursday night.

Those in attendance were treated to fiery clashes over immigration, foreign policy, and border controls on the Charleston, S.C., stage.

The neutral observers I spoke to shortly thereafter judged no one a clear winner or loser, but agreed that Cruz and Trump provided the most drama and electricity of the evening.

“It’s clear they aren’t dating anymore!” veteran North Carolina GOP consultant Marc Rotterman told me, “The gloves really came off between Cruz and Trump.”

Rotterman concluded that “Ted Cruz had his best night of the debate season — from his opening answer and throughout the debate.”

But, he quickly added, “It also was a good night for Mr. Trump, as no knockout punch was landed on him, and his many supporters will stick with him.”

Ford O’Connell, another seasoned GOP consultant with no horse in the 2016 contest, told me “there were three winners in this debate: Ted Cruz took it to Donald Trump, and Marco Rubio bested Ted Cruz.”

The Fox Business Channel second-to-the-last debate before the Iowa caucuses was clearly one of the liveliest.

“The Trump/Cruz 'bromance' is over,” O'Connell said. “While Cruz got a much needed win on the birther issue, Trump backhanded him on 'New York values' by invoking 9/11. Clearly Cruz was playing for a much-needed victory in Iowa, while Trump was playing to a national audience. This was without a doubt Trump's strongest debate performance, but Cruz showed he has the backbone and skills to go toe-to-toe with The Donald."

Kathie Obradovich, political reporter for the Des Moines Register, felt that “Cruz and Trump, who are in a tight race for the lead in the Iowa caucuses, battled roughly to a draw. Cruz had the best of Trump over the birther issue, after Trump admitted he didn’t care about it until Cruz started rising in the polls. But Trump steamrolled Cruz’s attack over “New York values” by invoking 9/11 and the city’s heroic response.”

Obradovich, O’Connell and Rotterman all agreed that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also came out of Charleston a winner on Tuesday. In Obradovich’s words, “Rubio showed more fire than in previous debates and left a few scorch marks on ‘Register/Bloomberg Iowa Poll’ leader Cruz over taxes and claims and flip-flopping. Rubio’s in a tight race with Ben Carson for the third-place ticket out of Iowa, so his performance may help him in the caucuses.”

“There were two debates,” Franklin and Marshall College Prof. G. Terry Madonna, considered the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, told me, “Cruz vs. Trump for anti-establishment vote, and Rubio vs. Christie for the establishment vote.

“The Cruz-Trump exchange on citizenship was the big electric moment of evening. Then Cruz went after Trump strongly on New York City values and got Trumped by the billionaire’s 9/11 response.”

Madonna also felt that Rubio “tried to show more emotion — a more human side — and was by far the best debater if one was keeping points.”

As for those who didn’t fare well in Charleston, Madonna pointed out that “no real gain was made by Jeb Bush, though he got aggressive with Trump on Muslim ban and tried to appear as anti-establishment candidate, or by [Ohio Gov. John] Kasich. Carson turned in a very weak performance and will get no spike in polls. This may be his last hurrah.”

“Rubio combined passion with policy knowledge,” said Donald Critchlow, director of the Arizona State University Center on Political Leadership and Thought, “Trump was stumped on the tariff and its consequences. He threw a good counter punch at Cruz on New York.”

“In the end, I don’t think Trump was hurt,” concluded Critchlow, author of a forthcoming book on the modern Republican Party, “He is still with us. I noticed that Trump was in the after debate spin zone for a change, delaying his tweeting for an hour. But one should not conclude from this that he has overcome his social media addiction.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ted Cruz’s “birther issue” and Donald Trump’s “New York values” took center stage at the Republican debate Thursday night.
cruz, trump, debate, kasich
Friday, 15 January 2016 09:41 AM
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