Tags: Trump Administration | Donald Trump | GOP2016 | Jeb Bush | Ted Cruz | trump | cruz

Trump Has Solid Lead in South Carolina

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Saturday, 13 Feb 2016 10:17 AM Current | Bio | Archive

For all the intensity and sharp exchanges viewers saw last Saturday night, the ninth debate between the Republican presidential hopeful changed very little among likely voters in South Carolina, which holds its primary next Saturday (Feb. 20).

According to the latest CBS tracking poll, Donald Trump leads among likely GOP primary voters with 42 percent, followed by Ted Cruz with 20 percent, and John Kasich and Marco Rubio tied for third with 15 percent each.

In what could possibly spell disaster for Jeb Bush in the state where his father and brother won critical primary wins in 1988 and 2000 respectively, CBS found the Florida governor tied for fourth place with Ben Carson.

Neutral observers to whom I spoke after the debate, in fact, commented more on the rancorous nature of the televised encounter in Greenville, S.C., than on points scored by the six candidates.

“The debate was held at a peace center and there was nothing peaceful about it,” said veteran GOP consultant Ford O’Connell, who has no favorite in the presidential race, “In fact it got down right ornery at times.”

But, O’Connell quickly added, “When a debate descends into complete chaos like this one did at times, Trump wins simply because his supporters will stick with him through thick and thin. That doesn’t mean Trump gained any new supporters tonight, particularly with his 9/11 commentary.”

He added that “Rubio’s performance in Greenville will make voters quickly forget about his previous debate debacle and for him that is all that matters — Rubio just simply has to run faster than Bush and Kasich in the Palmetto State and I think he accomplished that tonight.”

Marc Rotterman, another GOP consultant with no horse in the GOP contest, agreed that the Greenville debate “was a bad night for the Republican brand. It gave aid and comfort to the Democrats."

He added, “The debate degenerated into personal attacks from almost all on stage. [CBS anchor] John Dickerson led the candidates into food fight and they took the bait. And when you call other Republicans ‘liars,’ you don’t move the ball down the field.”

The only positive moments Rotterman saw in the debate was “Kasich being smart enough not to engage and Cruz having well-thought out answers in his responses. My guess is that both will be well-rewarded by the voters of South Carolina.”

“This was the most contentious of any debate so far,” said G. Terry Madonna, professor at Franklin and Marshall College and regarded as the premier pollster in Pennsylvania, “There was too much personal stuff thrown around and it got out of control. Why was all that jeering allowed?

Madonna felt that Trump may not have used the best line of attack in denouncing George W. Bush for the Iraq invasion because “polls show Bush 43 very popular with Republicans in South Carolina. It wasn’t Trump’s best evening but he seems unlikely to lose support.”

He agreed with Rotterman that Kasich had a good night that the Ohio governor “again comes across as the most centrist— OK, center-right of the Republican candidates. He appealed to the general election voter on health care and immigration.”

As for Rubio, Madonna said, “he turned in a solid performance He’s back. But that Cruz-Rubio debating amnesty again — that debate is getting old now.”

Former Republican State Chairman Van Hipp, a Newsmax TV commentator and Insider, agreed.

In his words, “the big winners of the debate were Marco Rubio and John Kasich. Rubio rebounded from his last debate, was quick on his feet and showed depth on foreign policy. Kasich came across as the serious conservative who rose above the fray.”

As for the debate itself, Hipp said: Where is Ronald Reagan when we need him? I thought I was at a WWE wrestling match.”

Donald Critchlow, director of the Arizona State University for Political Thought and Leadership, called the Greenville debate “a slugfest, with the fighters exchanging blows and drawing blood.”

Critchlow, author of a forthcoming book on the modern Republican Party, said that “Trump’s supporters will call him the winner, of course. But he was booed by the crowd a number of times and blamed the crowd as paid special interests, which lead to further boos.

“He was rude and interrupted or avoided answers to serious questions, such as those about entitlements or how Kurds can win in the Middle East. His attacks on Bush 41 and Bush 43 resulted in boos. And he called Cruz a ‘nasty man’ and ‘a liar.’”

Critchlow agreed with the others that “Rubio had his best night. People might not have agreed with him on every point. But he was clear on immigration, calling for control of the border rather and legalization for some with work cards. He showed great footwork and had his best debate. Whether voters accept this is another matter.”

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

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According to the latest CBS tracking poll, Donald Trump leads among likely GOP primary voters with 42 percent, followed by Ted Cruz with 20 percent, and John Kasich and Marco Rubio tied for third with 15 percent each.
trump, cruz, bush
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2016-17-13
Saturday, 13 Feb 2016 10:17 AM
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