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A Strong Fiorina, a Timid Carson, and a Weak Trump: The GOP Debate Recap

Gina Giordan

 CNN

CNN

As the race for the Republican nomination heats up, the CNN debate was a welcome sight. After seeing Jeb Bush and Donald Trump appear on late night talk shows, it was time to actually talk policy.

The CNN GOP debate was flawed, but it gave us a clearer view of who is actually prepared to rule the nation. Or at least, who can seriously fight for the chance to do so.   The verdict: while Trump might be leading in the polls, his debating skills leave much to be desired.  For the first time in his campaign, Trump looked to not be in control.  This might have to do with the fact that the other candidates took a more aggressive approach towards Trump this time around.  While tried to take the “high ground” route last debate, this time, they pulled no punches.  As a matter of fact, each of the eleven candidates seemed to take turns to take down Trump.  It wasn’t too hard, as Trump avoided most questions and focused on insulting other candidates (per his usual style). This time, however, both the other candidates and the moderators called him out on it.

Jeb Bush, while lackluster most of the night, called out Trump’s weak immigration policy.  He also took a chance to remind people Trump had disrespected his wife and asked the New York magnate to apologize.  Spoiler alert: he didn’t. It was a sorry show for Jeb.  A man who is clearly prepared, but can’t get to kickstart his campaign after running as an early favorite.

 AP

AP

The strongest candidate, unsurprisingly, was Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, who won the last “children’s table” debate, proved that she could make it on the big stage.  Fiorina was eloquent and composed. Her jabs at Trump only came when they were called for.  Fiorina was serious about the debate, and explained most of her policies in a clear, eloquent, and exciting way. Her answer about foreign policy (which was received by cheers) was perhaps the highlight of the night.

Ben Carson, who is second behind Trump in the polls, had a quiet night. His policies seemed reasonable, and he was well-spoken, but he lacked the enthusiasm of Fiorina.  He also avoided any confrontation with Trump, per his campaign strategy.

The clear winner of the debate was Fiorina.  A dark horse at the beginning of the campaign, she is starting to look as a viable candidate.  What the polls and the debates show is that this has been a dark horse campaign.  Trump, Carson and Fiorina have become unexpected favorites.

 NBC

NBC

Hundreds of miles away, Hillary Clinton was in New York trying to get her campaign started. She appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, and made fun of Trump. Perhaps, she is still unaware that the real threat might not be Trump.  The real threat to Hillary’s campaign might just be another woman.