Last night’s Republican presidential debate in South Carolina broke out into a bare knuckles brawl as Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz took off the gloves. John Kasich and Ben Carson stayed out side the cage, yet both scored points with a more gentle approach.
From the get-go, it was obvious that most of the candidates were out for blood and would give no quarter.
Where the Democrats have devolved into a three-person race with President Barack Obama being very much a part of the debate on stage between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Republicans have turned into an eight-person race where former President George W. Bush is in the fray.
While neither President was physically in the room, both Presidents were very much impacting the discussion.
In a surprise, Rubio came out in defense of GW and backing his chief rival, Jeb, on the issue in a free-for-all with The Donald. The audience, packed by the South Carolina State Party with Establishment types, booed over and over at Trump especially when he slammed GW.
Jeb disinvited The Donald to a Monday rally where former First Lady Barbara Bush (the nation’s Grandma) would be in attendance. Jeb said he was “sick and tired” of The Donald blasting his family.
Liar, liar – over and over Marco, like a Chihuahua, nipped at Ted’s heels. Ted did not lay down, but punched back at The Donald and Marco. The Donald could not decide who was the biggest prevaricator in the room – Ted or Jeb.
Kasich called for a time-out which went ignored.
The Doctor got more questions and speaking time than in previous debates.
One point where all the candidates agreed was that the choice of who should filled the vacancy caused by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court should be put off until a new person takes over the Oval Office.
Who won and who lost?
Each of the candidates scored points. Each won in their own lane.
How that will translate come the South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus is anyone’s guess in this atypical and strange, topsy-turvy election cycle.
Likewise each of the wannabes lost in that most likely none expanded their appeal much beyond the base already supporting each one.
Clear losers were the moderators of the event put on by CBS. It was clear that the moderators were not in control as the candidates continuously talked over each other, interrupted each other, demanded to interject and respond.
The moderators caved.
From the Cornfield, there will be another debate on February 25 after the primary and caucus. Whether the field will narrow after those votes is up in the air.
Before the votes are cast Republicans will get one more chance to talk to the voters of South Carolina as CNN hosts three candidates on Wednesday in a town hall and the remaining three in a town hall on Thursday.