CNN, of course, with probably the highest ratings in its history. As in the Fox News debates, the ratings can be attributed to Donald Trump, who took center stage. I still believe Trump was correct in asking the network to donate money from the profits of the telecast for a charity, such as for our veterans.
I think we make too much out of who won or lost a debate. The polls will ultimately tell us. The big question is, did they take down Trump? Frankly, no. It seems Trump is having to fight the world, not just the other GOP candidates, but the news media and the Democratic Party (same thing). Instead, he calls upon the populace to support him by shrewdly reinventing Nixon’s “Silent Majority” as they represent the anger of a nation impatient for a functioning government and the righting of a lot of wrongs.
Trump may slip and make the occasional faux pas, but his supporters know this election is about competence, not political correctness. The other candidates simply do not grasp the significance of the “Silent Majority,” nor do the news media who are used to telling the majority how to think and act. The fact Trump survived another obnoxious debate, as the central target for attack, means he won.
The CNN debate started with an overt attack on Trump. Through CNN’s encouragement, Scott Walker, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio attacked and Trump fought back vigorously. Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson refused to take CNN’s bait and handled it with class and dignity. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, allowed CNN to encourage him to engage Trump and, in the process, came across looking weak in comparison to Trump.
After a short time, it became obvious CNN saw this as a battle between Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and Bush. Everyone else was considered irrelevant by CNN. To me, the adult at the table was Mike Huckabee, who gave the best introduction and offered sage advice on various topics. I felt sorry for Huckabee, Rubio, and Ted Cruz, who were largely ignored. Fiorina did a very competent job and answered tough questions. Trump, forced into a corner by CNN, was forced to play defense as opposed to explaining his policies.
These debates probably represent the death knell for Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum. They have simply run out of time and money. Can Chris Christie and Walker be far behind? This will likely be the last time we see an early debate round.
Even Tuesday’s Public Policy Poll in Florida reported just under 50 percent of voters believe their own native sons, Bush and Rubio, should drop out of the race. This is re-enforced by Monday’s Gravis Poll showing Trump and Carson way ahead of Bush and Rubio.
CNN did a competent job technically in presenting the debate, but this was a blatant attack on Trump, not the other candidates. It was so obvious, it became rather annoying. To their credit, the panelists were not as sophomoric as those at the Fox debate. However, if I was irritated with anything, it was the candidates not taking the CNN panelists to task, as Newt Gingrich did in the 2012 campaign. The panelists needed to be reined in, not the candidates. I still have a problem with one-minute answers. This only allows simple sound bites and not the development of an effective argument. Then again, maybe this is all the general public can digest.
By the way, the handshake between Trump and Carson toward the end of the debate represented the end of career politicians, including some of the candidates standing at the podium.
So, in summary, who did well in the debate? Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and Huckabee. Who didn’t? Bush, Paul, Cruz, John Kasich, Christie, Rubio and Walker. Then again, they weren’t given much of a chance by CNN.
After watching the debate, I could only come to the conclusion that Trump was right, CNN should have been forced to make a sizable donation to the veterans.
Tim Bryce is a writer and managing director of M&JB Investment Co. of Palm Harbor, Fla. He has more than 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and he blogs at timbryce.com. Column courtesy of Context Florida.