|The Republicans debate in New Hampshire|
Marco Rubio had a chance, with a good debate performance, to knock Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and John Kasich out of the race. But instead he was effectively attacked by Christie in the first fifteen minutes, he was ridiculed for his robotic answers, and then he started to sweat. It was the worst case scenario for his campaign. Rubio lost the most ground tonight.
I think Donald Trump was wounded during the debate. His temperament doesn’t fit real well in New Hampshire and I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost on Tuesday. I know – he has a YUGEEEEE lead, but I’ve seen big leads in the Granite State evaporate quickly. Trump’s lack of political qualifications hurt him in New Hampshire.
The winner of the debate was John Kasich. Calm and steady, he portrayed the happy warrior. Remember, New Hampshire is a state John McCain won twice – in both 2000 and 2008. Kasich has the same temperament – positive and big tent. It’s a perfect match for the first primary. Watch for Kasich to be the story of the night on Tuesday.
Jeb Bush and Christie were both strong. It seemed the executive experience overshadowed the others in a variety of answers. Bush held his own against Trump in one heated showdown. Christie took a stick to Rubio’s knees over and over again. It sounded good, but I’m not sure that plays perfectly with the New Hampshire voters.
On the far right – Ted Cruz had to apologize to Ben Carson for his campaign tactics in Iowa. These two evangelical candidates will not do great on Tuesday and they know it. The question is whether Carson survives on to South Carolina. My guess is yes, but Cruz will crush him there.
The format of the debate was terrible. Good questions were asked by Martha Raddatz, but not all the candidates got to answer them. That’s extremely frustrating when you’re trying to judge one persons position against another. As an example, there was a question to Donald Trump about how he would run a campaign against Hillary Clinton. But when Jeb Bush tried to answer he was cut off. I just can’t imagine a debate at this stage – 48 hours before New Hampshire votes – where candidates are not all heard.
ABC News also made a mistake leaving Carly Fiorina off the stage. Rules are rules, until you realize they’re unfair.
As for New Hampshire – unlike Iowa – I love the primary! You can read more in my book Front Row Seat at the Circus!