On Tuesday night, the candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president gathered at the Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for the last GOP debate of 2015. Below are some observations from various conservative and Republican leaders around the Golden State.
First, of course, are my brief take-aways.
Donald Trump won the debate going into it as the frontrunner, and nothing happened at the debate to upset his lead. Ted Cruz again staked out ground as the “movement conservative” in the race. He and Marco Rubio sparred with each other, which helped neither.
Rubio having to defend his support of amnesty was detrimental. Rand Paul improved his game. Christie was on his game. Carson, Fiorina and Bush were adequate. Kasich, to quote my colleague Ben Shapiro, below, “Zzzzzzz.”
Arnold Steinberg, GOP Strategist and Pollster
Cruz was aggressive, almost rude; Rubio articulate, but hassled; Carson, talking points; Christie and Kasich, executive but redundant; Fiorina, precise; Paul, sensible. Trump keeps killing Jeb, on auto-pilot to defeat, with kindness. Trump finally acted like the front-runner.
James Lacy, Publisher, California Political Review
Rubio was hands-down the audience favorite, a terrific communicator who bettered both Cruz and Paul in the exchanges, and won the debate. TV viewers should know the live audience was decidedly, almost rudely anti-Trump, but I don’t think Trump will lose any ground at all with his voters, as he countered the Bush “chaos candidate” punches effectively and made his points.
Jon Coupal, President, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
When you’ve argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, a presidential debate seems like a walk in the park. Cruz control.
Celeste Greig, Grassroots Conservative Leader, Publisher GreigReport
No losers; however, Carly Fiorina looked uncomfortable, sometimes angry, no longer impressive, no policy making, some sound bites, interrupting with “ask me a question.” Marco Rubio quite sharp and quick with his answers. Trump did very well with foreign policy, and the need to be tougher to destroy ISIS, and to cut Internet access to terrorist and countries that harbor them. Cruz and Rubio went after each other because both are fast, smart and knowledgeable–a lot of animosity between the two of them.
Joel Pollak, Editor-in-Chief, Breitbart California
Donald Trump had his best night ever, while Ted Cruz got bogged down fighting Marco Rubio, who finally faced tough questions about his immigration policy; no one else broke through. Trump is no longer the frontrunner–he’s the favorite to win the nomination.
Katy Grimes, Senior Correspondent, The FlashReport
Senator Ted Cruz said, “All nine of the people here tonight would make an infinitely better president than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.” Most of America agrees.
Hon. Jeffrey Lalloway, Vice Chairman, South, California GOP:
While many of the candidates will make excellent Presidents, Ted Cruz showed that he is the most principled conservative in the debate. And his focus and will to defeat radical jihadis will keep America safe for our children.
Ben Shaprio, Breitbart Editor-At-Large
“Rand: B, Rubio: C, Cruz: B, Trump: A (Yes, really), Carson: C, Bush: D, Kasich: ZZZZZ, Fiorina: D, Christie: C.”
Actress and Talk Show Host Sam Sorbo
High point: Cruz says he’ll build the wall and get Trump to pay for it. Low point: Hewitt asked Carson if he was okay with the deaths of innocent civilians.
Reed Galen, GOP Political Consultant, Columnist
Rubio vs. Cruz and Trump vs. Jeb were the biggest takeaways tonight. The first pair matters. The second one is entertainment.
Thomas Hudson, President, California Republican Assembly
This was one of the best debates so far, with most of the candidates on their best behavior. Ted Cruz stood out as an effective conservative with the best understanding of the Constitution.
Shawn Steel, Republican National Committeeman for California
Fiorina used her few minutes wisely. Proving her case she is the anti-Hillary. Paul more aggressive but combative against most other candidates–holding firm the isolationist right. Bush–“I know what I don’t know”–slammed repeatedly by Donald Trump–great counter punch: “pretty soon Bush you’ll be off the stage.” Nice Ben Carson — most pleasant guy on the stage. Marco: struggled with repeated questions on immigration–savaged by Cruz and Paul, but shoots at Cruz for supporting more illegal immigration. Cruz got a lot of time but almost blew it when trying to shout down Blitzer, getting boos. Cruz safely following the Trump draft–shot at Rubio repeatedly.
Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher at www.flashreport.org. His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.