Trigger warning: hot takes!

Give our analyses a look, then take it to the comments…


The CNBC Republican debate was a dumpster fire from beginning to end.

John Harwood and the other moderators were openly hostile and argumentative to the candidates when they weren’t encouraging the candidates to fight among themselves.

What a contrast to the respectful way CNN treated Democrats.

Speaking of the Democrats, were they asked any questions that would appeal to conservative viewers? I watched the Dem debate and I can’t recall any.

Yet Republicans were asked about climate change and pot legalization.

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Chris Christie all scored applause by pointing out the political bias of the moderators and their questions. Each instance was a shining moment in an otherwise maddening display of liberal media activism.

CNBC should be ashamed.

Tonight’s moderators made Candy Crowley look like William F. Buckley.


It only took a minute or two to realize that this was a debate, all right. But it was a debate between the moderators and the candidates. Ted Cruz was the first to fight back, with a brilliance that recalled his history as a champion debater. Most of the others—except Bush, Kasich, and Paul—followed in due time, and the crowd roared its approval.

Cruz and Rubio were the standouts. Christie had his moments, too, but it’s unlikely he convinced people to choose him. Fiorina held her own and more, and for Trump and Carson if you liked them before you’ll probably like them now.

Jeb Bush is fading before our very eyes, and it’s become annoying when any of the bottom tier of candidates—Paul, Kasich, and Huckabee—speaks. They’re wasting our time and should drop out. Now.

Amy Miller:

In the past, I have been loathe to immediately attack moderators; I’d rather stick to candidate performance and interaction. Last night’s debate forced me to break that rule, though—CNBC embarrassed itself, and Reince Priebus has a lot of explaining to do.

Still some of our candidates managed to shine through the haze of media bias. Marco Rubio keeps getting better, and if a “winner” is possible, he’s it. He displays both institutional and policy prowess, and his rebuff of Jeb Bush was a clinic in regaining control of the narrative—which will be crucial during the general:

Ted Cruz came in at a close second, and I think he did a great job defending the entire field by hitting back at the biased moderators. He rallied the panel and the crowd against the moderators, and it made a difference as the debate wore on. It was a well-executed coup.

I’ll be interested to see the dynamic between Rubio and Cruz change as we get closer to the first primary contest next year. Cruz’s base is loud, passionate and vocal, and they’re already taking Rubio to task over his time in the Senate. Rubio, on the other hand, is likely to come out swinging against Cruz’s record of more talk than action in the Senate, which will hurt Cruz as we dive deeper into policy and bullet point visions for what America will look like post-Obama.

Carly Fiorina didn’t blow me away, but as usual, she was strong. I don’t agree with the criticism floating around on Twitter right now pitching her performance as the beginning of the end of her campaign.

Jeb Bush doesn’t want to be president. Moving on…

Ben Carson…I forgot participated in this one. He was likable and totally Carson, but he got overshadowed—as did Donald Trump. Shrug. Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie, and Mike Huckabee are done. They all had good moments, but “good moments” don’t win elections, don’t pad coffers, and don’t convince voters exposed to a supersaturated field of candidates.

Sarah Rumpf:

After the brutal gauntlet of Republican primary debates left Mitt Romney entering the 2012 general election wounded and limping like a stray dog sideswiped by a car, the RNC vowed they would take a firmer hand with the process in 2016. Third time proved to not be the charm tonight and exposed the RNC as embarrassingly negligent in protecting our candidates.

Republican primary voters have sat through a Fox News debate that was the Donald Trump Super Soap Opera Extravaganza, and a CNN debate where the vast majority of the questions were designed to set the candidates at each other. Now tonight we saw the worst to date, as the CNBC moderators interrupted the Republican candidates well before their time was up, debunked Democrat talking points were proffered as substantive questions, and a ridiculous War on Women question was presented as “our issues” by moderator Becky Quick.

The RNC and Chairman Reince Priebus owe the Republican candidates and the many Republican activists who will donate countless hours of their time to help elect a GOP ticket next year an explanation, an apology, and a reassurance that they will take tangible steps to make sure this nonsense ends tonight.

UPDATE: Priebus has tweeted and told reporters that he is “very disappointed” in CNBC and the moderators. That’s one out of three of what Republicans deserve from him. We’ll see if tomorrow brings an explanation and some tangible action.


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