The Donald, of course. He has two generic responses to every question: “I’m the richest / the smartest / the most successful” or a gratuitous snipe. He doesn’t seem to want or know how not to be offensive. And the contortions of his face as he listens to someone else speak never fail to amuse.
Carly Fiorina, by a long shot. She’s clearly clocked many hours studying and writing responses. Far more than any of her rivals, she demonstrated detailed knowledge of military deployment, foreign policy and domestic issues. She was dignified throughout and even eloquent in her comments about the Ladies Liberty and Justice.
Jeb Bush often looked ill at ease, especially standing next to Trump. He answered most questions by repeating his talking points, touting his tax-cutting and vetoes when he was governor of Florida. What has he done since then?
His most quotable remark: “You know what? As it relates to my brother, there’s one thing I know for sure. He kept us safe.” And no one challenged him! They can’t all have amnesia. Not even Jake Tapper remembered that W was president on 9/11!
Rand Paul provided a sensible foil to the saber-rattling of Marco Rubio. He was one of the three (with Trump and Carson) who opposed the Iraq War. On legalized pot, he sounded like a liberal, recognizing that two-thirds of the incarcerated population are in jail for drug-related offenses, and that most of them are Black and poor. “Rich kids don’t get arrested.”
Most fiercely conservative
Ted Cruz was playing to the most radical Right on every issue important to them — guns, immigration, right-to-life.
Mike Huckabee insisted that Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refused a marriage license to a gay couple, was completely within her rights. Personal beliefs trump the law, and the case against Davis is “an example of the criminalization of Christianity” and “judicial tyranny.” If Davis had been a Muslim who refused to obey the law because of her religious beliefs … ?
Chris Christie: New Jersey, New Jersey, New Jersey: vetoes and tax cuts, but mum on bridge lane-closing scandal, natch. He’s quick on his feet, though, ad-libbing wisecracks and one-liners.
All in all, Carly Fiorina gained the most. Trump slid under the communal onslaught and Jeb Bush, despite a better performance than in the first debate, didn’t quite rise above his lackluster image.
CNN offered comic relief at the end, asking what nickname each would like the Secret Service to give them. Bush and Trump were the best.
Countering Trump’s assessment of him as low-energy, Bush responded, “Eveready, because it’s very high energy, Donald.” Trump’s choice was almost as good. He’d like to be called “Humble.”