Friday, January 15, 2016


It was the first debate of 2016, but not the first of the cycle,
and the remaining main stage candidates are each much
improved over the initial performances.

The number of debaters is now down to seven, and in a few
weeks that number will probably be even less. That
circumstance will either make for a much better “debate”
or it will turn into a virtual carnival of political contempt.

With voting only days away, it is perhaps not very useful to
proclaim winners and losers. Voters in Iowa and New
Hampshire will soon either verify the media analyses of
Stage One of the contest, or will, as often happens, surprise
and contradict the punditry which has so far dominated
campaign coverage.

While most public interest recently has been in the GOP
debates, the apparent surge of Bernie Sanders in the
Democratic race makes  the next Democratic debate worth

Ted Cruz was a focus of the debate in South Carolina. His
comment about the residents of New York City was
gratuitous, and was a flub, but the attacks on his citizenship
seemed unfair. At some point, the latter question will be
settled in court, presumably favorable to Cruz.

Even Ben Carson, whose candidacy is becoming harder to
understand, performed well. All the candidates increasingly
focused their criticisms on President Obama and Hillary
Clinton, something Governor Christie has done from the
first debate. There is now a reasonably clear and shared
critique of the Obama administration, and this is likely to
be a positive for the eventual Republican ticket no matter
whose names are on it.

The back-and-forth “attacks’ between the GOP candidates
are getting sharper. In future debates, this will only increase
and become more personal. It will be interesting to see how
each of the candidates deflect these attacks.

The four most aggressive candidates are Mr. Trump. Mr. Cruz,
Mr. Christie and Mr. Rubio. Fact-checking will likely become
essential as the campaign procedes.

If any candidate has been wearing gloves so far, they will be
off by the next debate. Bare knuckles. Bare knuckles.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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