New Hampshire GOP Debate: California Reacts

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This Tuesday ,voters in the small state of New Hampshire, with a population roughly equivalent to that of San Diego, will head to the polls for the first in the nation primary on the heels of the Iowa caucuses.

Last night, ABC News hosted the GOP debate for seven of the Republican contenders for the Presidency: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, surgeon Ben Carson, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Ohio Governor John Kasich, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, and businessman Donald Trump.

Here is a roundup of thoughts from various California politicos to whom Breitbart News reached out after the debate was over.

Arnold Steinberg, GOP Strategist and Pollster
The governors, who did better than the senators, may exceed expectations on Tuesday… Bush and Kasich seemed like decent fellows. It was Bush’s best debate, but too late. Kasich finally downplayed his ego and was credible, especially for New Hampshire voters. Christie was forceful, even impressive at times. Was his take-down of the triple-redundant Rubio over the top? Regardless, Christie did Trump’s work. Cruz was mainly on his game, but did he gain votes? The Iowa controversy remains messy for Cruz, yet Ben Carson seems too much the victim. Carson comes with his canned jokes; on issues, he often wants to answer an unasked question. Trump obfuscated on eminent domain and Bush failed at closure. Despite some awkward moments, Trump probably held on to his vote but not cut much into the undecideds.

James Lacy, Publisher, California Political Review
A great debate because it focused on just the seven candidates who are now the real contenders.  Trump was well controlled.  Both Rubio and Cruz were thrown off balance by questions early–perhaps more so Rubio, who disappointed a bit tonight. I think Trump is the winner because he was quite guarded, but forthright enough, so that he did not lose ground.

State Senator John Moorlach
The underlying theme was constantly repeating that current or former governors would be better than U.S. Senators at serving as the President of the United States.  It was a battle between the executives and the legislators. During the past twenty-plus years, I’ve done both, running a county and a county department and now in the State Legislature. On this sole factor, I would favor someone who has or had executive experience.

It turns out that those who are behind in the polls are the executives, Bush, Christie, and Kasich. And they stressed their executive successes. But it’s the senators–Rubio (who received the brunt of this argument), Cruz, Clinton, and Sanders–that were being hammered.

The President of the United States is an executive position.  It will be interesting to see if this debate tactic will gain traction in the New Hampshire voting booths.

Bruce Bialosky, Columnist and founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of CA
Governors came out fighting tonight, as they know most likely only one is going on from NH. Marco had a rough beginning as Christie staked his candidacy on a takedown. Recovered, but not his best night. Trump took it on the chin on eminent domain. Also, never good idea to attack the audience unless you are Don Rickles. Winners: governors. Losers: everyone else.

Joel Pollak, Editor-in-Chief, Breitbart California
My quick impression is that Christie had the best night, perhaps enough to earn himself a podium finish on Tuesday. Trump held his own, while Rubio ran into an experience argument for which he has no answer. He is a great voice for the conservative movement and the picture of what the Republican Party wants to be, but neither of those is a qualification for president. He will need to do more in the weeks ahead.

Celeste Greig, Publisher, The Greig Report
Governors Christie and Bush acted like two desperate bullies, with both going after Sen. Rubio, and Gov. Bush going after Donald Trump over the issue of eminent domain. Dr. Carson proved again what a sweet gentleman he is, and what a great Surgeon General he would make. Sen. Cruz repeated most of his previous stands and policies, and failed to give the proper answer when asked about his recent charges against Mr. Trump’s temperament. Except for some boos Mr. Trump received from the audience due his sharp response to Gov. Bush, he conducted himself much better this time and did well with his strong response on waterboarding. Gov. Kasich did not accomplish anything. No winners, but Sen. Rubio did lost some ground by allowing himself to be punched and not getting up fast. Time for at least two of them to bow out gracefully. Unfortunately for some of them, experience in governing a state does not count this time with the electorate.

Thomas Hudson, Chairman, California Republican Assembly
Tonight’s Republican debate lacked much discussion about cutting the federal budget and paying off the national debt. Instead, we heard a lot of boisterous talk about bombing foreigners, with each candidate striving to prove that he was more feverishly interventionist than the others.  In that context, Ted Cruz’s closing statement was a home run that celebrated his historic victory in Iowa in spite of his common sense opposition to ethanol mandates.

Shawn Steel, Republican National Committeeman from California
A sedate debate. Fewer people can mean better discussions. Trump demonstrated more manners than usual. The essential niceness and kindness of Dr. Carson shows why he continues to get 10%. Cruz was not into total attack mode and showed some humility himself–almost raising himself from the others. Marco is clearly the fastest dancer and you could throw anything he turns it in to a lofty vision.


Reed Galen, Political Consultant and Strategist
The story will be Rubio’s rough start, Christie on the attack, Donald being Donald (and taking a body blow from Jeb), and Cruz almost humanizing himself. Debates are not Kasich’s forte, so he had better hope his 100 town halls push him into second or third. Dr. Ben Carson needs to exit stage left. And oh yeah, what was up with that snafu at the beginning?

The two current governors tried really hard–tried everything they can to break into number two–but the polls are not being very nice to either.

The new Jeb looks pretty arresting–wondering what took him so long? If he were truly serious, he would publicly denounce Mike Murphy, who wasted nearly $70 million not helping one percentage point while at the same time serving HRC and scarring other Republicans.

Sam Sorbo, Actress and Talk Show Host
The whole story can be summed up in the completely botched introductions of the candidates, but in case you missed it: Rubio lauded Obama’s abilities (though not his accomplishments); Trump supported waterboarding and eminent domain, though not together; Cruz’s half-sister died of a drug overdose; Carson is pretty; Christie targeted Rubio and Bush targeted Bush, as usual. Oh, and Kasich was there, too — something about his father — but Carly should have been there, because, while everyone weighed in with Super Bowl predictions (#Seriously?) – she would likely have used the time to further advance the conservative cause, instead. (I know I would have — Go Steelers!)

Finally, I will say that I thought Bush performed well, surgeon Ben Carson gave a status quo performance, Christie was quite strong, Ted Cruz did well, Kasich had his best performance to date, Rubio underperformed, and businessman Donald Trump did well enough.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher at His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at


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