Yesterday was yet another debate with a fewer number of GOP candidates in the field.
It belonged to the executives: the governors and the businessman.
Indeed, if Saturday showed the kind of debater Donald Trump can be, then it was probably a mistake for him to skip the Fox News debate before the Iowa caucus.
With the exception of the moment when the crowd booed Trump during an exchange with Jeb Bush over eminent domain and stacking the audience with supporters brought in by the Super PACs backing him, he was clearly in charge.
Rubio, on the other hand, looked uncomfortable, heading into New Hampshire second in the entrance polls. He repeated himself four times with the line “this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing” with only slight variations. Chris Christie called him out on it and Twitter noticed, too. He stumbled over a few words. Maybe he was tired from campaigning.
For the first time in any of these GOP debates, it was the governors who were the center of attention. Christie charged to the front bluntly stating that he had a strong record of creating jobs, cutting taxes and the prison population by supporting drug treatment programs – all critical issues for New Hampshire voters. He went at Rubio as a person with no experience, to which Rubio had no rebuff.
For the first time in any of these GOP debates, it was the governors who put in uniformly strong performances.
Christie proudly stated his record in New Jersey about issues that New Hampshire residents care about. He continued attacking Rubio over his lack of experience.
Bush was the most energized that we’ve seen him yet. He was bold and declarative in discussing the support he has from over 30 generals who believe he’d be the strongest commander-in-chief with his plan to combat ISIS.
The third governor on stage, John Kasich, showed why he’s so well-liked in New Hampshire. He was personable and compelling in talking about the 400,000 jobs he’s created and his work to make a deficit into a surplus, all while cutting taxes.
Cruz didn’t make much of an impact other than to have a back and forth with Carson over his alleged accusation that he told people Carson was withdrawing. He did apologize again.
Forty percent of New Hampshire voters don’t decide who they’re voting for until they walk into the booth so it’s still anyone’s game, but we may have very well seen the end of Marcomentum on Saturday night.