So much for the hope that the prime time debate of Republican presidential candidates would be as substantial as the earlier 2nd tier debate.
In the first hour or so, what we got was a lot of back and forth between the wannabes and the moderators, with the crowd lapping it up like a dog going after water.
Most notably was Ted Cruz stopping everything to have a “come to Jesus” moment with the CNBC mods. Cruz accused the panel of trying to pit the candidates against each other rather than asking questions of substance. He noted that the Democratic wannabes faced softball questions during the love fest with moderators from CNN, who would never vote in a Republican primary.
That is not to say there has not been some meat put on the table.
There was not much applause, a few giggles, but Mike Huckabee had a great analogy on the government involved in the lives of Americans. The Huck compared the government to the blimp which got loose from the proving grounds in Maryland today. Huck noted that it was full of gas and cost too much to get rid of – so the government had to keep it.
Time again the GOP hopefuls would throw in the difference with both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders taking the country farther down the wrong road. They also claimed a continuation in electing either Democrat as a third term for President Barack Obama.
All of the candidates were adamant about less federal government. All the candidates focused on securing the borders, keeping America safe and taking care of its citizens. All of the candidates were for reducing taxes and revamping the current tax code.
Carly Fiorina noted that the parties have been talking reform for years and nothing ever happens. She said we needed someone who could get the job done.
On Medicare and Social Security, all agreed on saving and reforming both systems. All seemed to come down on keeping the system in tact for current recipients, but for younger workers a new program must be implemented.
Chris Christie, with good applause, came down on the moderators when the question was asked about fantasy football. Christie berated the moderators for asking such a question when the nation is at war with ISIS and Al Qaeda and other major concerns while the candidates were talking fantasy football.
Dr. Ben Carson stayed steady throughout. He skillfully rebutted questions that seemed to be more “gotcha” than substance. At one point when asked about a company putting is image below its logo on its website and if that was indicative of his judgment, the crowd erupted in a loud “boo”.
Rand Paul attempted to elicit his ties to the Liberty Movement during questioning. He answered many questions well.
There was a moment when Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio got in a tiff over Rubio’s lack of votes in the Senate this year. In fact, Bush told Rubio, his Senator, to either resign or show up for votes.
Donald Trump was not the loud mouthed, braggart he normally is on the campaign trail. He was more subdued and even complimentary of the other candidates, including Carson who has toppled him from the #1 spot in a recent national poll.
John Kasich pointed out over and over his record in Ohio. Kasich also noted he helped to get the nation to a balanced budget while in Congress.
I have to say tonight, no one candidate was a major standout outdistancing the other. All 10 of the GOP wannabes came across as thoughtful, on target and versed on the issues facing the nation.
If I have to choose a winner, I would be hard pressed. They pretty much all stood out to me. There were no major or even minor gaffes.
Supporters of each of the candidates will be crowing about how well their candidate did.
Detractors are still going to look down their noses.
For the undecided, most, like me, will remain undecided.
From the Cornfield, the question now is who will drop out before the next debate?
Did Bush do a good enough job to satisfy the big donors?
Did Trump’s more laid back mannerisms reverse his downward slump and get Iowans to change their minds again?
Will Carson momentum continue?
Will Paul see his fortune change?
Will Paul and Rubio break their tie in the polls? If so, which will get the biggest bump?
Did Kasich or Christie finally catch fire?
Will Fiorina get her wish to debate Clinton in a woman-to-woman face-to-face?