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Krauthammer: Debate Was ‘More Substantive’ Than Others, Jeb ‘Very Strong,’ Cruz Had ‘Rocky Start,’ Rubio ‘Rockiest Night’

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Columnist Charles Krauthammer said that the second Fox News debate was “much more substantive than about any other,” and that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush had a “very strong night,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie “did well,” Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Florida Senator Marco Rubio “had their moments,” but Cruz “had a bit of a rocky start,” while Rubio “had his rockiest night” due to the questioning of his immigration record on Thursday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.

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Krauthammer said, “There was a — it was a very spirited debate. It was much more substantive than about any other, and there was almost none of the ad hominems and the insults that one had heard in the earlier debates. There was a lot of hard questioning and a lot of tough exchanges, but it did not have anything to do, I thought, with the kind of personal level that we’d heard before. I’ll leave it to the viewers to figure out why.”

He continued, “Secondly, I thought it was interestingly the best night that Jeb had in all of the debates, and I might even say I think he might have had the best night of the group in this debate. He was very strong. He had one moment, where he kind of flipped back to Marco Rubio on the question of immigration.” Krauthammer added that this was “a kind of a reversal of that moment in one of the earlier debates, when there was a tangle between Rubio and Bush, and Rubio turned it very strongly against Bush.”

Krauthammer added, “I thought in his own way, Christie did well. He has a way of coming in after the others are arguing, and sort of rising above it, and saying this is why you need a doer, a governor, etc., when he had that line about you need a dictionary to explain Washington speak into ordinary English, again, setting himself aside. He didn’t have a soaring moment, but i thought he did well. Cruz and Rubio were the most interesting, because they were the ones who had the most at stake. Each of them had their moments. Cruz had a bit of rocky start when attacked you, the moderators, for trying to cause argument — debate between you. the crowd was not very appreciative of that. And Rubio, I thought, had his rockiest night. He had the good moments, but I think on immigration, where you showed the contradiction between what he’d said a few years ago and what he said now, he had a really hard time arguing his way out of that box.” Krauthammer further said that while Cruz had contradicted himself, and he’s not sure if his argument is better, he “made a better one tonight. And he kind of wriggled out of it with slightly more finesse and a sense of conviction than Rubio did in explaining away his contradictions.”

He also argued that while Kentucky Senator Rand Paul didn’t really change his standing in the race, “having him on the stage, I thought, was an addition.”

Krauthammer concluded, “I thought one of the most interesting aspects of the debate is how little people went after Trump. The only one who did, and I thought it was a rather nicely-delivered hit, was by Jeb, when he came out against the demonization of the other, particularly Muslims, in response to the to the video that had been shown on YouTube. And also, I thought he made a good defense, for the first time, a rather forceful defense of his position on how to act in — with ISIS in the Middle East, particularly since the question had a kind of a hook on it, mentioning the failures of his brother’s policy in the Middle East. He sidestepped it, and I thought he handled it very well.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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