I finally got a chance to watch the debate yesterday and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, the CNBC moderators were awful and basically a bunch of liberal a$$holes (seriously Harwood reminded me of a high school teacher who was an obtuse, anal prick that hated you for being smarter than him), the candidates themselves seemed so much better than in previous outings. They realize that time is running out and so they all brought their A game (or as A as they could). I think Rubio and Cruz really dazzled and clearly won the debates, with Rubio probably gaining many of JEB's supporters. Anyway, here are my candidate-by-candidate comments
Marco Rubio - He really came prepared, he knew what he would be attacked with and had answered prepared. I loved that he had examples of Democratic Senators who missed votes when the panel attacked him and then had McCain in his back pocket for when JEB tried to wallow in there. He spoke really well, could make witty comments on the fly and didn't make any stupid water comments.
Ted Cruz- He did an amazing job. Even though he is of about the same age as Rubio, he just seems more mature for some reason. I loved his attack on the panel for asking idiotic questions. I also had the feeling that he is trying to get Rand Paul's supporters for when he drops out, which is inevitable at this point. Note that he mentioned that he co-sponsored Rand Paul's Audit the Fed bill, says he wants a currency backed by gold ("ideally") and even referenced Colorado brownies. Gold bugs and hippies/college students make up probably 90% of Rand Paul's support at this point.
Donald Trump - One thing the CNBC debate proved is that he isn't a buffoon, he is a smart guy who learns from his mistakes. He came across as quite a bit more Presidential this time around, which is a major improvement. I think he is in it to win it.
Ben Carson - Just so out of his element. I now he is a brilliant surgeon and everything but he really did come across as not being able to do simple math. The segments on his tax plan were downright painful.
Carly Fiorina - I think that with everyone else stepping up their game while she was always at the top of hers, her relative strength has diminished. She is a great speaker who, like Rubio, handles herself excellently on the fly (when they asked her about Tom Perkins' comments, her answer was short, quick and completely ended any chance for a follow up). With Rubio and Cruz shining so brightly right now, I don't know if there is a path to victory for her anymore.
Chris Christie - He really had a great night, I just wish he were a conservative. He was smart, witty and made a lot of sense when he talked. But he is still the a$$hole who hugged Obama and probably helped cost Romney the election.
John Kasich - I know people kept commenting that he was yelling too much but I thought he generally came across well, like when he was commenting on how most of the other candidates' plans were just pure fantasy. Most of the others just don't know what it takes to make massive overhauls of the Federal government and you have to admit, Kasich is really the only one on that stage who does.
Mike Huckabee - Every time the camera went to him, I thought, "oh yeah, I forgot he was still running." I did though love his answer when the panel tried to get him to attack Trump, he pointed out that Trump would be better than any Democrat. Which is true.
JEB - Boy he really sucked. He kind of came across as the Republican Al Gore, just so uncomfortable in his own skin that he will be taking alpha male lessons from Naomi Wolf. Plus, he really should have thought through his suggestion that Marco Rubio should resign his seat. We have four sitting Senators running for the nomination and I'm sure they have all missed votes, should they all resign? It makes no friggin sense. Just give up already and endorse Marco.
Rand Paul - He actually did pretty well, focusing on his most Republican friendly positions. He also looked happier than he has at one of these debates. Too bad its too late. It's definitely time for him to drop out and endorse Cruz.
So those are my thoughts. At this point I am having an internal debate on whether to support Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio seems conservative enough and has broader appeal but I agree with Ted Cruz on well, just about everything.