Good news for Carly Fiorina; very bad news for Scott Walker

From CNN:

Poll: Fiorina rockets to No. 2 behind Trump in GOP field

By Eric Bradner, CNN | Updated 10:05 AM ET, Sun September 20, 2015

Washington (CNN)Carly Fiorina shot into second place in the Republican presidential field on the heels of another strong debate performance, and Donald Trump has lost some support, a new national CNN/ORC poll shows.

The survey, conducted in the three days after 23 million people tuned in to Wednesday night’s GOP debate on CNN, shows that Trump is still the party’s front-runner with 24% support. That, though, is an 8 percentage point decrease from earlier in the month when a similar poll had him at 32%.

Fiorina ranks second with 15% support — up from 3% in early September. She’s just ahead of Ben Carson’s 14%, though Carson’s support has also declined from 19% in the previous poll.

Driving Trump’s drop and Fiorina’s rise: a debate in which 31% of Republicans who watched said Trump was the loser, and 52% identified Fiorina as the winner.

READ: The complete CNN/ORC poll results

And Scott Walker? His support is indicated by an *, or less than one half of one percent. :(

Let’s remember one thing: it’s still mid-September of the year before the primaries and the general election. There have been many other flashes in the pan, many other candidates who were never expected to be anything, who surged to an early lead; Howard Dean in 2004 comes to mind. A lot can — and will — happen before the Iowa caucuses, and Mrs Fiorina could overtake Mr Trump, or she could fade badly. One thing is certain: the long knives are out, and she’s getting attacks from both the left — very strongly — and even some from the right.

As I have noted previously, I have not yet changed my endorsement, but I have become very disappointed with Scott Walker. Considering that my endorsements have pretty much been the kiss of death for a candidate — I gave my early support to Rick Perry in 2012 — perhaps the best thing I can do for Mrs Fiorina is not to endorse her! :)

The Democrats are worried about Hillary Clinton

From CNN:

Top Dem donors urge Biden to seek White House

By Stephen Collinson, CNN | Updated 4:46 PM ET, Fri September 18, 2015

Washington (CNN) — A group of nearly 50 top Democratic Party fundraisers and activists are circulating a letter urging Vice President Joe Biden to jump into the Democratic White House race, saying he is sure to win if he does.

“The Obama-Biden administration has been a spectacular success. But much work remains to be done,” the letter said. “To finish the job, America needs a leader who is respected both home and abroad, and who understands the real challenges facing American families.”

Signatories to the letter, first reported by Reuters, include former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian, and John Maa, who serves on the party’s national finance committee as well as retired basketball legend and coach Elgin Baylor.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

There’s more at the link, but the story serves to point out what ought to be obvious: the Democrats are worried that Her Inevitableness might not be quite as inevitable as Hillary Clinton would like you to think, just as she turned out not to be so inevitable in 2008.

There have been plenty of stories about a deep loathing between the Clintons and the Obamas, with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett being accused of leaking the e-mail scandal story. Of course, the White House denied that, and most of the professional media have been silent on a feud that everyone knows is there, but which would be harmful to Democratic prospects in 2016. If you google search for the stories about President Obama urging Vice President Biden to run in 2016, you’ll find plenty from conservative sources, but nothing from The New York Times or Washington Post or any of the major networks.

But, in the end, the Democrats will not give up without a fight: if enough of them believe that nominating Mrs Clinton, who is still the obvious frontrunner, will mean a second-place finish in the general election, they will start to desert her in droves.

An historical note: in modern history, the Democrats have nominated their obvious frontrunner (in non-incumbent years) in 1968, 1984, 2000 and 2004, and in each of those years they have lost the presidential election. When they reached beyond the pre-campaign frontrunner (1972, 1976, 1988, 1992 and 2008), they have a much more successful record.

From Around the Blogroll

From The Wall Street Journal:

Carly Fiorina Commands Stage at South Carolina Forum

Nine other GOP contenders also appeared at the forum, but Donald Trump bowed out of the event

By Colleen McCain Nelson | Sept. 19, 2015 1:06 a.m. ET

Republican presidential candidate and former CEO Carly Fiorina in Greenville, South Carolina. Photo: Zuma Press Click to enlarge.

GREENVILLE, S.C.—With her stock rising in the Republican presidential field, Carly Fiorina returned to the campaign trail Friday aiming to capitalize on postdebate buzz and gain traction in a state with one of the first 2016 primaries.

Mrs. Fiorina and nine other GOP contenders appeared in sequence at a South Carolina forum, pledging conservative principles and finding few areas of disagreement. Missing from the event was Donald Trump; the outspoken billionaire businessman canceled just a few hours before the event.

Mrs. Fiorina commanded the stage, taking direct aim at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and calling out Republicans who pledge to reduce the debt and limit the size of government yet accomplish neither.

The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, who delivered one of the debate’s more memorable moments Wednesday with a graphic description of a live fetus in an antiabortion group’s undercover video, doubled down on those remarks Friday. She decried Planned Parenthood and dared Mrs. Clinton and President Barack Obama to watch the videos.

Mrs. Fiorina’s comments have drawn scrutiny because the images she described don’t appear in any the videos. One video does show a former employee of a tissue procurement company describing a similar scene at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

On Friday, Mrs. Fiorina said the videos she referenced are real, calling such “butchering” an assault on the character of the country.

“We cannot be a nation that funds this kind of barbarity,” Mrs. Fiorina said.

Her remarks drew an enthusiastic response. The question now, though, is whether she can translate plaudits from the prime-time debate into a boost in the polls, an uptick in fundraising and a more robust campaign organization.

After listening to five hours’ worth of remarks from 10 candidates, many in the audience said they left impressed by Mrs. Fiorina.

There’s more at the link. And yeah, I know: I’ve spent a lot of bandwidth writing about Carly Fiorina lately; I’d point out that I wrote four of those articles before her successful appearance on the CNN debate stage, and not all of them were completely positive.1 I have not changed my previous endorsement of Scott Walker, at least not yet, but I am sure leaning that way. I have not yet made a campaign contribution to Mrs Fiorina, but I think that will be happening soon, as well.

At any rate, on to the blogroll!

That’s all for this week! It’s back to work for me on Monday, but I hope that there won’t be too much of a drop-off in my writing.
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I hate to say it . . .

. . . but I’m very disappointed in Scott Walker:

Scott Walker: Media Would’ve Said Fiorina Won Debate ‘No Matter What’

by Andrew Desiderio | 5:42 pm, September 17th, 2015

Wisconsin Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker went after the media following CNN’s GOP debate, telling radio host Glenn Beck on Thursday that members of the political press were going to spin the debate as a win for Carly Fiorina “no matter what.”

“I think going in, we knew the narrative no matter what was going to happen was that they were going to say Carly had a big night, no matter what, and obviously they said that,” Walker said. “I think the other impression was — the feedback I got from folks, not just the press but from across the country we talked to, was a frustration that there wasn’t more talk … about issues.”

Walker, who once sat high atop the polls in Iowa but whose campaign has since faltered as Donald Trump rose to prominence among conservatives, also criticized CNN for “trying to pit people against each other for ratings, instead of talking about the issues.”

“That’s what’s wrong with this campaign, we’re not actually talking about issues, we’re talking about personalities,” Walker said.

There’s more, including the audio from the Glenn Beck program, at the original.

I endorsed Governor Walker for President a couple months ago, and even bought, and have worn, a Scott Walker t-shirt. I endorsed Mr Walker because I saw him as a tough guy who would fight hard and win, just as he has done, thrice, in Wisconsin, and just as he did in the fight against public sector unions.1 I did not expect Governor Walker to be a whiner about not having done well in a debate.

From The New York Times. Click to enlarge.

From The New York Times. Click to enlarge.

Mr Walker has something of a legitimate claim: he was asked only two questions, directly, in three hours, and got in only five rebuttals. Yeah, Donald Trump got more than twice as much talking time, and Carly Fiorina about 50% more talking time than did Mr Walker, in part because they got more questions, but also because they took the time, they seized their opportunities. If Mr Walker got only nine minutes of time, fewer than anyone else, it’s at least partially his own fault.

And Mr Walker knew the rules of the debate, going in. If he didn’t like them, he could have declined to participate; he went forward anyway.

Well, carpe diem Governor Walker, seize the day! If things aren’t going your way, make them go your way. Donald Trump did, and Carly Fiorina did, and if you believe that you deserve to be on the big stage with them, then you had damned well better be ready to fight your way into the lead, because nobody is just going to hand it to you. You think that the debate was unfair, that it was rigged? You’re asking us to vote for you to become the next President of the United States, and that means that we are supposed to believe you can handle Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping and Angela Merkel and Benjamin Netanyahu, and if you believe for one moment that they will be nice and play fair, then you don’t deserve to be President of the United States.

In the meantime, Governor Walker needs to fix his own campaign. As I have pointed out previously, his own campaign website has a “Who Won the Debate” page, in which readers are asked to vote on the result. On that page, the website uses the debate participant photo from the previous debate, the one on Fox News, the one in which Mrs Fiorina was not allowed to participate.

Now, that could have been, and probably was, simply a mistake by a campaign staffer, someone getting the page ready even before the debate. But once the Walker campaign was notified of the mistake, something I did personally both by telephone2 and e-mail3, that image should have been changed. That it wasn’t changed means either:

  1. Mr Walker’s campaign staff doesn’t get communication from the lower levels (I have no particular contact with any campaign higher ups); or
  2. Mr Walker’s campaign staff does know about the mistake, and is just being petulant about it.

In either case, Governor Walker is ultimately responsible for it.

Governor Walker still has a chance to pull this one out, but it’s not much of one; he has let a big opportunity to separate himself from the pack slip away, and presidential candidates don’t usually get second chances. The next debate is scheduled for Wednesday, October 28th, at the University of Colorado, to be broadcast on CNBC. Mr Trump and Mrs Fiorina have momentum going for them, but either of them could easily hurt their chances with a poor performance. If Governor Walker is going to have any chance going forward, he’s going to have to grab that debate and take control and do it all himself; no one is going to make it easy for him. And if he can’t do that, then he doesn’t deserve to be President.
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  1. I have previously explained my opposition to public employee unions, as opposed to unions in the private sector:

    (P)ublic employee unions are not subject to the same economic discipline as are unionized workers in private industry. In private industry, unions have to balance what they want for their workers with a pay-and-benefit structure that the company can afford to pay and still stay in business. If they demand more than that, either the company does not agree, and the workers eventually lose their jobs after a lengthy strike forces the company to hire replacement workers, or the company accepts the demands, and slowly — or perhaps not so slowly — goes out of business, in which case the workers also lose their jobs.

    But when it comes to public employee unions, there is no such thing as the “company” going out of business, nor does the “company” have to worry about losing “customers” to competitors. There are no competitors, and the “company,” if it cannot meet the wage-and-salary obligations under the union contracts can simply increase its prices (meaning: taxes), and the “customers” have no choice but to pay the higher prices.

  2. On Friday morning
  3. On Thursday evening.

Rule 5 Blogging: Rangers!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Megan Fox in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude.

This week, we note CPT Kristen Griest and 1LT Shaye Haver, who became the first women to pass the Army Ranger School:

CPT Kristen Griest, left, and 1LT Shaye Haver, right, became the first female soldiers ever to graduate from Ranger School on August 21, 2015.

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: Rangers!’ »

The Pope should cancel his trip

It seems like everyone on the left wants to offend Pope Francis. From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Nutter says he hopes to raise LGBT issues with Pope

By Tricia L. Nadolny, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Last updated: Friday, September 18, 2015, 8:14 PM | Posted: Friday, September 18, 2015, 5:46 PM

Mayor Nutter, if given the chance, plans to speak with Pope Francis during the papal visit to Philadelphia about barriers faced by the LGBT community in the United States and to ask the pope to “end judgment” of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.

In a statement issued Friday, Nutter’s office summarized the message he hopes to deliver to the pope. The comments, addressed to “Your Holiness,” touch on a range of concerns in the LGBT community including alienation from the church, discrimination in housing and employment and isolation of youth leading to depression and suicide.

“We encourage ending the systematic and institutionalized discrimination against LGBT people through the message of love, hope and acceptance,” the draft remarks from Nutter read. “For the many LGBT individuals who seek the Lord and have good will, we ask that you end judgment of these individuals by those within the Church through teaching and pastoral practice currently in place.”

Nutter’s comments, provided by his spokesman Mark McDonald, came on the heels of an op-ed published Thursday by Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney in which he called on the mayor to stand up for the LGBT community if given one-on-one time with the pope.

There’s more at the link. Of course, Mayor Nutter is only the latest Democrat to try to insult the Pope and the Catholic Church. From The Wall Street Journal:

Vatican Disputes White House Guest List for Papal Visit

Invitations to transgender activists, first openly gay U.S. Episcopal bishop and activist nun to White House event prompt pushback

By Francis X. Rocca
Sept. 17, 2015 7:45 p.m. ET

On the eve of Pope Francis’s arrival in the U.S., the Vatican has taken offense at the Obama administration’s decision to invite to the pope’s welcome ceremony transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and an activist nun who leads a group criticized by the Vatican for its silence on abortion and euthanasia.

According to a senior Vatican official, the Holy See worries that any photos of the pope with these guests at the White House welcoming ceremony next Wednesday could be interpreted as an endorsement of their activities.

The tension exemplifies concerns among conservative Catholics, including many bishops, that the White House will use the pope’s visit to play down its differences with church leaders on such contentious issues as same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate in the health care law.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Vatican’s reaction to the ceremony’s guest list. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday he was unaware of the names of individuals on the guest list, but cautioned against drawing any conclusions on specific guests “because there will be 15,000 other people there too.”

In the last few days, several people have acknowledged or made public their receipt of invitations to the event, which will be held on the White House’s South Lawn on the morning of Pope Francis’ first full day in the U.S.

There’s more at the link.

I wrote about Episcopal Bishop Vicky Gene Robinson ten years ago, a selfish man1 who would rather split apart the Anglican Church he purported to serve for his own selfish reasons. That President Obama would invite him to greet the Pope is offensive.2

Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics. He said the Vatican’s disapproval of his presence at the ceremony “speaks to the necessity for continued dialogue” between transgender Catholics and the church hierarchy.

“This is really not so much of a political statement as it is the reality that there are so many LGBT Catholics and family members of LGBT people who would really benefit from this message coming from the White House,” he said.

Let me be blunt here: there is no such thing as an “LGBT Catholic.” The Church holds that to be homosexual itself is not a sin, any more than any other unfortunate condition or illness. But scripture plainly forbids homosexual activity or relations,3 and homosexuals are required to remain celibate.4 We have complete freedom of religion in this country: homosexuals are absolutely allowed to choose not to be Catholics if they wish to engage in homosexual relations. And we have freedom of speech as well; they can tell everybody they wish that they really are Catholics. But, if they do so, they are exercising another part of freedom of speech, the freedom to lie, because that is exactly what such people are doing.5

The White House is seeking to play down its differences with Catholic Church leaders during Pope Francis’ visit, and to emphasize areas in which President Obama’s agenda aligns with the pope’s.

Really? Then why deliberately invite people whose presence is intended as an insult to the Pope and the Catholic Church?6 Couldn’t the President have left the homosexual lobby out of this, and focused on issues in which the Pope and he generally agree, such as climate change and socialism?

Well, no, of course not, because that isn’t the way this President operates. He smiles when he insults people, but he insults them regardless. January 20, 2017, cannot come too soon.
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  1. Bishop Robinson, after divorcing his wife to shack up with and later “marry” a male, wound up “divorcing” his “husband.”
  2. Though President Obama did, at one point, trianglate Bishop Robinson right under the bus!
  3. Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10.
  4. Catechism of the Catholic Church, §2357-2359.
  5. What, I have to wonder, are active homosexuals thinking when they approach the altar to receive the Eucharist. If they ever attended Catechism, they must have learned that to receive the Host while in a state of grave sin is a grave sin in itself.
  6. President Obama plans to nominate Eric Fanning, an openly homosexual man, to become Secretary of the Army. Of course this would be announced before the Pope’s visit. Mr Fanning’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation, but the Republican majority will not have the courage to reject him.

#CarlyFiorina isn’t running to become the first female President; she’s running to become President!

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Card Carly Doesn’t Play

Most political women pander to gender, but Fiorina wants to make it on the merits.

By Kimberley A. Strassel | Sept. 17, 2015 7:15 p.m. ET

Asked during Wednesday’s GOP debate which woman he’d put on the $10 bill, Jeb Bush named Margaret Thatcher. As Mr. Bush then joked that it would probably be illegal to put a British prime minister on American currency, eyes flicked to the woman standing to his left. Quite so.

Carly Fiorina in Phoenix, Sept. 11. Photo: Cheryl Evans/Associated Press

Carly Fiorina isn’t Margaret Thatcher, just as her Republican rivals aren’t Ronald Reagan. Yet Ms. Fiorina has a bit of Thatcher about her—and in one way in particular. She isn’t a woman running for president. She’s a presidential contender who happens to be a woman.

That’s new for the GOP. Women have made remarkable inroads everywhere, but there still may be no tougher realm than Republican politics. This isn’t, as the press suggests, because conservative voters are old fogies who’d chain their wives to sinks full of dirty dishes. It’s because conservative voters demand more from their candidates.

Women Democrats pander on gender issues—abortion, birth control, the myth of unequal pay. They promise female voters special handouts. They pitch their womanhood as a qualification for office. And their base loves it.

Women Republicans don’t get to engage in such vote-buying. They are expected to be principled, knowledgeable, serious. They are expected to propose policies — sometimes unpopular ones — designed to help all Americans. And, because the general public (both right and left) is still new to the idea of a woman president, they are expected to do all this twice as well as men.

This was Elizabeth Dole’s problem in her fleeting 2000 presidential bid. Ms. Dole ran on her gender, arguing America ought to elect its first female president — which was no argument at all. It was a problem in 2012 for Michele Bachmann, who loved to claim special insight as “a mother of five” and a “homemaker.” It was a problem for Sarah Palin, whose occasional flubs allowed late-night comics to undermine her seriousness as a vice-presidential candidate.

The Iron Lady didn’t do identity politics, and Ms. Fiorina doesn’t either. At the debate she offered unadulterated substance. She was informed, focused, specific. Want to know what Carly thinks of Putin? Here. Need Carly to explain how hard it is to alter the 14th amendment? Right at ya. Curious if Carly is familiar with Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force, and where he’s traveled lately? Boom, boom, boom.

There’s a lot more at the link.

A bit of a quibble with the author’s last (reproduced) paragraph: Mrs Fiorina didn’t get it right about how difficult it is to alter the 14th Amendment; she said that it required 2/3 of the states to ratify a change, where the requirement is actually 3/4 of the states. The 2/3 requirement is the supermajority required in each House of Congress to pass an amendment and submit it to the states for ratification.

But the article is right on target: I can’t say that it’s true for every supporter of Mrs Fiorina’s campaign, but at least for me it is important that she is not running as a female candidate but as simply a candidate, not claiming that she should be the first female President, but simply that she is the best person running to be our next President.

We already have a candidate running to be the first female President in Hillary Clinton, a woman of an extensive résumé but few actual accomplishments, a candidate running, because it’s her turn to be President, damn it! but who is considered presidentibili not because of anything she has actually done but simply because she married the right man; Hillary Clinton might have been elected to the Senate and appointed Secretary of State, but Hillary Rodham would never have been.

I am not naïve enough to believe that none of Mrs Fiorina’s support is due to her being a woman, any more than I think that her being female might not cost her some votes as well; that’s simply the way the world is. Even the oh-so-liberal New York Times sexistly tweeted last night:

My response was obvious:

You see, at The First Street Journal, we don’t care about Mrs Fiorina’s chromosomes or her genitals; we care about whether she is a good candidate, whether she would make a good President.

Will Mrs Fiorina make a good President? The answer is: we can’t know until she actually becomes President. There is no real training program for presidents, and the closest position we have in the United States is the gubernatorial seat, and while we have had former governors who have been good Presidents, we’ve had too many who have made lousy Presidents. Every presidential candidate is, in the end, a guess and a reach.

But, of all of the candidates running, Mrs Fiorina seems top-notch to me: she is intelligent, she’s obviously a quick learner, she is tough and intuitive and she gets to the core of problems quickly. She didn’t start near the top, but came up from the bottom, and has a personal understanding not only about how things work in the executive suite, but in all of the layers from the entry-level on up. We are not interested in her becoming the first female President; we are very interested in her becoming President.

Scott Walker’s campaign fouls up

Where's Carly Fiorina?

Where’s Carly Fiorina?

Scott Walker’s campaign website has a page, Who Won the GOP Debate? You can scroll down and choose from any of the eleven candidates who were on stage. Naturally, Governor Walker is the first choice, and below his image are the other ten candidates, in alphabetical order.

But the header image, which I have saved and used in this article,1 is from the previous debate on Fox, the one in which Carly Fiorina was excluded. Given that Mrs Fiorina turned in one of the best debate performances — many people say that she simply won outright, though that is not my position — that’s a pretty glaring error, and one which will be seen as a sexist attempt to exclude her from the conversation.

In my opinion, this was simply a mistake by a campaign website staffer, but it doesn’t matter: Mr Walker will get hammered for this. The candidates have to be ultimately responsible for what goes out under their names.
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  1. Image captured at 15:54 on Thursday, September 17, 2015.

The Fed stands pat

From The Wall Street Journal:

Fed Stands Pat, Wary of Global Tumult

Majority of central bank officials still expect to increase rates this year

The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates at near-zero levels despite signs of a stronger job market, signaling trepidation about recent turbulence in financial markets and in economies abroad.

Decision in Depth

There’s really no reason to raise interest rates now: the demand for loans from creditworthy customers simply isn’t there, and the banks are sitting on cash. If there’s no pent-up demand at current rates, things certainly wouldn’t improve if rates were raised.

#CNNDebate My debate scoreboard

This is the first candidate debate I’ve watched in decades; I don’t really think much of the debate format anyway. Candidate debates are exactly the opposite of what a President does: debaters have to stand there, with no notes and no help, and answer questions on the spur of the moment, while the President always has all of the available information at hand, and plenty of help with every decision. Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably the closest we’ve ever come to nuclear war, President Kennedy didn’t actually take his decision on blockading Cuba until the sixth day after he had been notified about the presence of Soviet missiles in that island nation.

And I missed the tail end of the debate. I recorded it, and didn’t start watching it until 9:00 PM, and the recording cut off at 11:30 PM, as it was supposed to do, but the debate ran overtime. Those caveats said, my impressions:

  • Grade: F If anyone lost the debate, it was Dr Ben Carson. It wasn’t for what he said, but how he said it; he did not present an image of strength or decisiveness, and he was wishy-washy on some things. His was the worst performance.
  • Grade D for Senator Paul, C for Governors Huckabee and Christie Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) gave fairly weak performances, primarily because they didn’t get as much face time as the others. Messrs Huckabee and Christie had a few strong moments, but not enough of them.
  • Grade C+ Governor John Kasich had some good answers, and was trying to tout his own record without slamming anyone else. I liked his style, but he got lost in the crowd a bit too often.
  • Grade B- Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a fair to good performance; he had some strong points, but his performance was uneven.
  • Grade B Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) had some strong and assertive answers, but suffered from a bit of face time shortage.
  • Grade B+ Carly Fiorina had a strong performance, and was easily the candidate who presented the most specifics about what she would do as President. She made one bad (to me) mistake, when she said that a constitutional amendment would need to be ratified by 2/3 of the states, when an amendment actually requires ratification by 3/4 of the states. She gave strong answers beginning, middle and end, and might have been one of the best actual debaters, however hers was a good, but not great performance. She did win a couple of exchanges with Donald Trump, but the exchange between Mr Trump and her about their respective business careers was a loss for both.
  • Grade B+ Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) turned in a strong performance, though he had a bit of an uneven spot in the middle. All of his answers were strong ones, but he got overlooked a bit too much.
  • Grade B+ Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) Possibly the best actual debater there, but some of his positions were too nuanced and didn’t play as well as they might have. He did have a couple of strong answers concerning his brother’s record.
  • Grade B+ Donald Trump was the most dominant figure on the stage, in part because so many of the questions were about him, but also because he wouldn’t be denied getting in his points. However, his actual answers lacked any specificity, and he was just plain wrong about a couple of things. Mr Bush noted that just because Mr Trump says something doesn’t make it true. He got thrashed by Mrs Fiorina on two questions, and the business exchange between Mrs Fiorina and him was a loss for both.  Governor Christie had a strong point during that, noting that the unemployed worker doesn’t care one bit about Mrs Fiorina’s and Mr Trump’s business careers.

I didn’t see any clear winner in this debate. Had there been fewer candidates, I believe Messrs Kasich and Christie would have been right at the top on performance. I didn’t see any realistic hope that Drs Carson or Paul would have done better had the debate had fewer competitors; they just didn’t have strong answers even when they got the chance.