Frank Bruni on Last Night’s Republican Debate: Trump, Rubio, and Cruz Go at It!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, has a good take on last night’s Republican presidential nominee debate.  We are down to five candidates (Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Carson, and Kasich).  In my mind, Kasich is the only one who has the heft and experience to become president but it will not happen for him at least not this year. The most interesting aspects of the debate were among Trump, Rubio, and Cruz.  Besides the nasty epithets hurled at each other, it was clear that Rubio was out to irk and perplex Trump.  He succeeded to a degree.  However, Rubio’s efforts may be too late.  Here is a good recap from Frank Bruni:

“Something profound happened on the stage in Houston on Thursday night. Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz stopped focusing on each other long enough to turn toward the person who is actually beating both of them and at this point favored to win the Republican nomination: Donald Trump.

Cruz dismissed Trump as someone who’d discovered certain concerns — who’d discovered conservatism, really — only when he became a candidate. Cruz said that while he was working to combat the illegal immigration that so inflames Trump now, “Where was Donald? He was firing Dennis Rodman on ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’”

But Rubio turned in Trump’s direction with particular force. With ferociousness, in fact. He recited a meticulously memorized litany of Trump’s transgressions, especially those that contradict Trump’s words now: the illegal immigrants that Trump reportedly hired for his construction projects, the litigation against a college bearing his name, multiple bankruptcies associated with him.

Referring to Trump’s promised barrier along the Mexican border, Rubio sniped: “If he builds the wall the way he built Trump Towers, he’ll be using illegal immigrant labor to do it.”

He went after the notion that Trump is a good businessman. He went after the idea that Trump is a straight talker. He called Trump a liar — repeatedly.

In other words, he finally hit Trump where Trump lives: image-wise. This had to happen, because one explanation for Trump’s success is how reluctant his adversaries have been to confront him as they quarreled with one another instead.

And this had to hurt Trump, because he was shown in a harsher light than he’d been shown in at any previous debate, and his face reddened in the glare.

But Thursday night may well have been too late, and Trump has been made to mimic a ripe tomato before — with minimal political damage to him.

Besides which, Trump at times pushed back as effectively as possible, brushing off charges of hypocrisy and painting Rubio as a pipsqueak with no knowledge of business, and Cruz as an obnoxious scold despised by his Senate colleagues. Those were the smart colors to apply to them.”

The best line during the debate was by Mark Rubio:

“Here’s a guy [Trump] who inherited $200 million. If he hadn’t inherited $200 million, you know where Donald Trump would be? He would be selling watches in Manhattan,” the senator said.

The march to the Republican candidacy continues.



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