The biggest take away from the CNN Republican Debate is that contrary to prior promises, Donald Trump says he will not release his income tax returns because he is being audited.

There is no law, that I’m aware of, prohibiting such release. It sounded like a massive dodge, since IRS audits can go on for years. Trump even said his last 4-5 years of returns are being audited.

Trump was his usual, petty self, gratuitously insulting Hugh Hewitt for supposedly having low ratings, even when Hewitt hadn’t asked hostile question at the time, but reminded Trump of the prior promise to release the returns. I guess Trump supporters will see such conduct as “tough” and being a “fighter,” but it was childish.

Perhaps more important, Marco Rubio was the first person in any of the debates to successfully take on Trump on a range of issues.  Rubio mocked and belittled Trump in the humorous, mocking and highly effective manner that Trump used to make Jeb look small.

Rubio was the dominant non-Trump candidate on stage, and that might be the most important take-away. I doubt many Trump supporters changed their minds, but I could see the non-Trump vote coalescing around Rubio because Cruz, while he did fine, was not the dominant personality on stage.

Everything above assumes a rational world. But it’s not a rational world, so I make no predictions as to whether this changes anything.

Highlights:

This may be the highlight of the night, when Rubio turned his New Hampshire debate debacle into a punch line against Trump.

Rubio even managed to use the immigration issue to his advantage versus Trump:

Here’s the sleazy hit on Hugh Hewitt when asked about tax returns.

The audit came up multiple times.

Cruz also went after Trump effectively on taxes and the Trump University fraud case.

This probably was Trump’s highlight:

A selection of my tweets from the night: