Columnist Charles Krauthammer said GOP presidential candidates Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie were the winners of Saturday’s GOP presidential debate, while Florida Senator Marco Rubio was “really hurt” by his exchange with Christie in a way that will impact the results of New Hampshire’s primary significantly and “put something of a brake on his momentum” during the Fox News Channel’s coverage of the debate.
Krauthammer said there was “not a lot of ambiguity” in the debate results, “The winners were the three governors for sure, the ones with most, way behind, who had to gain, particularly I thought Kasich, he made his case as perfectly pitched for New Hampshire, of the guy who can appeal to independents, to reach across the aisle, who’s a moderate, a bit like the Obama appeal of 2008. I thought he was the most effective. Bush had his best night, had a good night presenting his own case, but also he nailed Trump on the eminent domain, he took him on, number one, and second, I think that he really landed a blow. Although, as always, he didn’t quite have the knockout in the end. The third, was of course, Christie with that electric moment, and you know, the one was, ‘There it is,’ which reminded me of President Reagan when he ran against Carter, he had that electric moment in one debate where he said, ‘There you go again, and the presidency election was over right there. And that I think, it really hurt Rubio. I’m not sure how much it helps Christie, but he did show himself rather well. Of the others, interestingly, I thought that Trump and Cruz didn’t hurt themselves very much, but they didn’t help themselves, each of them had fairly rocky nights. I thought Trump on the defensive in the way he was kind nasty with Bush in saying, you know, attempting to shush him. Cruz interestingly, retreated when he was offered a chance to hit — or repeat his hit on Trump about personality and temperament. He shied away. He refused to pick it up. Of course, the moment that people are going to be remembering is Rubio, who…he had a very strong debate other than that, but unfortunately for Rubio, that moment is the one that’s going to be remembered.”
Krauthammer was asked, “Will it hurt him so much here that it effects Tuesday significantly?”
He answered, “I think it will. I think this was a moment when he could have really put away the field. He’s had this great momentum. I think this is likely to put something of a brake on his momentum. Look, we were at a point where you were getting one establishment figure Tim Scott (R), the Senator from South Carolina endorsing him, other governors who dropped out of the race endorsing him, what — he could have just started running the table, this I think, is going to hurt. What’s amazing to me is that he must have known that this was coming. He knew the outline. He knew the content of the attack. His strategy obviously was, don’t return fire at Christie, just talk about Obama, that’s always a popular thing to do, but you don’t do it when you’ve been accused of repeating yourself and giving a canned statement. And there were easy ways he could have answered that question, and a way to say, ‘I have the most experience on intelligence, foreign affairs,’ he didn’t do it. I think that this is going to be the lasting impression of this debate.”
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