The third Republican debate Wednesday night is now history. So who are the winners and the loser? Points have to be taken away from the moderators of CNBC because at times it looked like they had no control over the Republican candidates for President. It started with asinine questions that the audience and the candidates felt that the moderators had come up with to be deliberately obtuse and insulting. For instance, this question from moderator John Harwood, who asked whether Trump’s candidacy was “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.” The bell was rang and everyone knew that these moderators were looking for an outburst or to show division amongst the candidates. Trump right out of the gate said that the question wasn’t nice but Trump wasn’t the only one taking on the moderators. Trump performance at the debate was a more subdued Trump but it was a more efficient Trump who talked policies and only hit back at the other candidates in retaliation to their comments. There was one awkward moment for Trump when moderator Becky Quick questioned Trump on his statement relating Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Mark Rubio being his “personal Senator.” Trump argued and joked she had done a horrible job researching because he had never said that. Unfortunately for Trump, the quote was found right on his own candidacy webpage.
Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hit it out of the park with his take down of the moderators. He said that, “The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media,” the Texas senator said as the audience roared with approval. “This is not a cage match,” Cruz said. “And you look at the questions: ‘Donald Trump are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson can you do math? John Kasich will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush why have your numbers fallen?’ How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?” with that the audience clapped and howled enthusiastically in agreement to Cruz’s perception of the moderators.
Cruz wasn’t finished though. “The contrast with the Democratic debate where every fawning questions from the media was which of you was more handsome and wise,” he said. “Let me be clear, the men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense than every participant in the Democratic debate, “he countered to the moderators. Next was Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, jumped the moderators when a question was raised about fantasy football. He said, Are we really talking about getting the government involved in fantasy football? We have $19 trillion in debt, we have people out of work, we have ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop? How about this? How about we get the government to do what they’re supposed to be doing. Secure our borders, protect our people and support American values and American families. Enough on fantasy football. People play, who cares?” Christie was right on point according to the audience who cheered wildly.
One candidate did little to help his campaign, Jeb Bush. Bush has had to cut personnel and close campaign offices as his presidency dream sinks lower and lower. Wednesday night’s debate was a must win for Bush and he wasn’t even close. He lost and he lost big. Bush supporter Eric Cantor told CNBC’s Squawk Box, “It was a tough night. There’s no question about it.” Bush also said of his performance, “”I’m running with heart,” Bush said. “I’m not a performer. If you’re looking for an entertainer in chief, I’m probably not the guy.” Bush tried to take out Rubio but missed his mark terribly and ended up looking as frustrated as he must feel.