The Briefing, Vol. III, Issue 36

The Briefing, Vol. III, Issue 36

The Briefing, Vol. III, Issue 36- Debate Winners & Losers

This week:

  • Jeb has a miserable debate
  • Rubio and Cruz soar; Trump forgettable
  • Bernie Sanders the sexist?

The format was poorly designed, the questions were mostly tendentious (and still not necessarily tough), and some terms agreed to in advance were simply not respected. The CNBC debate last week was bad enough that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus responded to it with a letter canceling NBC’s participation in a later debate.

But of course, 14 million people still watched, and the candidates gave them quite a show. This debate will prove to be a huge turning point for several of them. Naturally, we will look at the losers first.


House070215-BushJeb Bush: The biggest loser, hands down. It wasn’t even close.

Bush was under a lot of pressure to turn in a great performance in this debate. And his advisors wanted to see him bludgeon Marco Rubio, even though his donors have “little appetite” for such an attack.

And so Bush showed up at the debate hoping to do both. Unfortunately, he showed up with a pretty lame and tendentious attack on Rubio’s senate attendance, even though he has missed fewer votes than Sens. Ted Cruz, Barack Obama, John McCain, or Hillary Clinton have missed or did miss in their respective campaigns. Rubio, who had already been fielding this criticism for a few weeks, was predictably well prepared, and dispatched with him pretty well while keeping the high ground and appearing to remain above the fray.

Things didn’t improve after that for Bush, who took up less debate time than nearly all the others on the stage. He came off looking a bit petty and definitely outwitted in that exchange. Bush’s call to regulate fantasy football but not at the federal level was somewhat absurd — given that he said he’s in favor of regulation, where else would he regulate an interstate business except through the federal government?

On its own, the debate performance would probably have been enough to doom Bush, just because his campaign has been so underachieving so far. But he has a few additional problems that relate to his and his campaign team’s effectiveness and good judgment.

  • Costly and ineffective in Iowa: Team Bush has found little excitement for its candidate in the Hawkeye State. It has made over 70,000 calls there so far, and identified just 1,260 caucusgoers who will be supporting Bush. It has also found only four volunteers.
    Bear in mind, this comes after a substantial television buy in Iowa by his SuperPAC — $6 million has been booked, although only part of it has been spent so far. No wonder Bush is retrenching and focusing on New Hampshire.
  • Suicide attack on Rubio: We’ve noted the little dust-up between Bush and Rubio on stage, but it gets much worse than that. A leaked Bush campaign memo implied that Rubio has far worse skeletons in his closet than a few missed votes. When asked about this by a reporter, a Bush aide spread the rumor that Marco Rubio had failed his vetting by Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012, when he was considered as Romney’s running-mate.
    Only problem is, that’s not so — and the Romney aide who did the vetting of Rubio has gone public to debunk the rumors.  Unless the ominous hints become revelations soon, Bush is really crossing a lot of lines with this sort of rumor-mongering, and he’d better watch it if he has hopes of running again in the future.

Bush has the money to stay in this race for quite some time, but it’s looking pretty hopeless for the moment. Unless, of course, he really does have something that can end Rubio, in which case he’d have a small chance anyway.

030214-Paul-600x266Rand Paul:  Although we stopped watching when the debate ended, we are told that one of the CNBC commentators said in the post-mortem that the two senators in the debate — Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio — had done pretty well. Yes, it was that kind of night for Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who was nearly invisible on stage. He spoke less than anyone else, and we had to go back and look at the debate transcript just to remember at least one thing he had said.

Nothing has gone Paul’s way in this race. There are many reasons, but Trump might actually be his biggest problem, because the billionaire has attracted a large swathe of the traditional Ron Paul base.

Time to get that re-election campaign rolling, senator.

Donald Trump5Donald Trump: You can say good things about Donald Trump, or you can say bad things about him. It doesn’t matter — it all helps him.  But when people stop talking about him or find him dull and unremarkable, that’s when he starts to turn back into a pumpkin.

And nobody was talking about Trump last week because his performance was utterly unmemorable. He spoke less than three other candidates, which is not very Trumpy. He could have had more time if he’d tried, but he didn’t seem to have much to say except about the rules of the debate itself. He bragged in his closing statement about his involvement in getting CNBC to reduce its length, and that was probably his best moment of the evening. For those who backing Trump over his single-issue immigration stance, it’s also worth noting that he forgot his own position on immigration at one point while discussing the H1B program and high-skill immigration in general.

The most important thing is that Trump got where he is now by dominating the field and making all of those politicians look like fools. People liked that, back when he was doing it. He isn’t doing it anymore, and he didn’t do it in that debate. (Our theory is that he doesn’t know enough about the subject matter when substantive issues come up, but there’s also the possibility that the schtick just gets old at some point.) The fact that he seemed unaware of what was in his own immigration position paper — praised by many of his biggest fans — seems to confirm that.

Either way, Trump seems to have lost the shine that made him the frontrunner. Just because everyone predicting his demise has been wrong for so long doesn’t mean they won’t start being right. The polls in Iowa are just beginning to hint that Trump’s moment is almost gone.

CIB061515-CarsonBen Carson: Carson’s new status as the Iowa (and perhaps national) frontrunner didn’t make him any less low-key in this debate. He didn’t do horribly, but he didn’t seem to understand questions about his own tax plan and that’s never good. He took up less speaking speaking time than all but Paul and Bush, and he was a non-entity throughout.


House042015-1-rubioMarco Rubio: Not only did he stop Bush in his tracks, but he also dealt deftly with criticisms about his personal financial acumen and an inaccurate characterization of his tax plan. No, he did not quite address these things head-on, but no good candidate does. Rubio showed how good he is at redirecting tendentious questions and accusations. He does so effortlessly, just as when he dealt with Bush. He’ll have to do more than that to reassure people in the long run — and but this is good enough for now.

This guy is good on his feet — really good. He has a positive message, he’s young and attractive. Team Bush has tried to frame him as a Republican Obama for his assumed lack of experience. One could say he fits that bill in some ways, but don’t forget that Obama won two presidential elections and was considered the ideal candidate when he ran.

Ted Cruz1Ted Cruz: Sometimes, when Cruz speaks, he says the right things but doesn’t sound very convincing. That was not the case last Wednesday night. He displayed perfect timing in deciding when to go after the CNBC moderators, right when he was given a tendentious but not terribly hard-hitting question, much like the others before him.

Cruz earned a lot of good will just with that little riff. And overall, he made a realimpression and had a good debate. His discussion of the problem with the Federal Reserve Bank’s dual mandate (price stability and maximum employment) is one that needs to be had and rarely is — there is, in fact, little-known legislation to go back to the single mandate of price stability. His reference to the gold standard (to which he wisely did not entirely commit) is surely a means of fishing for the old Ron Paul base — the part of it accessible to Cruz at this point is mostly attached to Trump.

Cruz shows potential to become one of the contenders after Trump and Carson fade away — assuming they do. That’s clearly been his plan all along.

CIB041515-ChristieChris Christie: A surprisingly strong debate performance from Christie doesn’t mean he has the slightest chance of winning the GOP nomination. But you had to enjoy watching him, much like conservatives did in his YouTube confrontations of the old days.

Carly Fiorina 4Carly Fiorina: She wasn’t exactly a clear “winner,” but she broke even and she didn’t hurt herself at all. Her problem is that she’s been slowly fading ever since that spectacular performance in the last debate. She didn’t do anything in the debate to stand out too much, but she smartly took the initiative to consume more debate time than anyone else.

CIB061315-ClintonDemocrats: If Hillary Clinton is elected, Americans face eight years of being called sexist for criticizing her about anything. It’s worth laying down this flag now, because if Bernie Sanders is a sexist, then every human being alive is a sexist.

Republicans would do well to mark this one down for the future, because when the inevitable “war on women” theme crops up again, it will be worth bringing up the example of Sanders to show how empty the rhetoric really is. “Just ten months ago, her campaign was accusing Bernie Sanders — a lifelong progressive democratic socialist, of being a sexist, of waging a war on women. It just goes to show that they’ll really say anything…”

Election 2015

Virginia State Senate: Republicans face a risk of losing their narrow 21-19 majority in the State Senate. Tie goes to the Democrats, who control the lieutenant governorship. Keep an eye out for this result on Tuesday.

Kentucky-Governor:  There is a late GOP poll showing a tie, but Matt Bevin, R, remains the underdog and trails by five points in the more-trusted Bluegrass Poll. A major factor in the outcome will be the performance of the third-party candidate, Drew Curtis. If he does worse than the polls suggest, Bevin at least has a chance.



  1. “If Hillary Clinton is elected, Americans face eight years of being called sexist for criticizing her about anything. It’s worth laying down this flag now, because if Bernie Sanders is a sexist, then every human being alive is a sexist.”
    This is laugh out loud funny but also sadly, true! If this election turns on “let’s elect a woman” as it did “let’s elect a black” then we are certainly in trouble. Let us hope your marker is taken seriously, if not, then we got to go with Carly Fiorena who really is
    Hillary’s worst nightmare!

      • Give me a clue, what did she say or how do you Google a speech?
        Must have been pretty bad. What I hear from her now is on point and
        she’s very well spoken. I for one have some doubts about her conservative
        credentials based on previous positions she has taken when running
        for office. Just on the basis of her ability to express herself and and deal
        so well on the fly with any issue that’s thrown at her, she would be a great
        foil (and our only one) to throw at Hillary If “let’s elect a woman” is the
        major reason for voting for President then I’m with her. I am coming down
        on the side of Cruz for now and would not be too disappointed with Rubio.
        I have serious problems with Trump, primarily on an intellectual level but
        also with doubts about his conservative principals and his liberal past. If
        Hillary gets in, this nation is doomed, if it has not already been doomed by Obama.

          • I’ll give it a try but I don’t understand why you are unable to give us an indication of what she said that was so wrong. Is she a truther?

          • I didn’t realise that was what you meant: I’m sorry. She said how wonderful muslims were, how much they’d contributed to Western knowledge in many fields and she seemed very uninformed & lukewarm about the West’s achievements, as if the West could not compare with islam.

          • I see what is bothering you here and agree it is a perplexing view.
            What I think she was driving at is that the Muslims back then
            were very advanced in terms of mathematics and other disciplines
            that we hold in high regard today. I have often said that the Muslim
            population stopped advancing and is stuck back in the medieval days
            in some ways like the Amish have. I have a theory it was due to their refusal to join the enlightenment that was led by the art of printing. Until very recently the Koran was passed down by each generation memorizing it and the print Koran was blasphemy. To this day they are still held back by their insistence in using the Lunar calendar rather than the much more accurate Cesarean calendar. The western civilization was just as cruel as the Muslims back in the day but they advanced out of the Spanish Inquisition and head lopping behavior that the Muslim religion still seems OK with. Carley’s point here is that there was a lot of important stuff that came out of Muslim history. She leaves out that they have not advanced to the levels reached by the civilized world in the approximate 1500 years since they were tops.
            That in a nut shell is what is both wrong with their system and why
            they are such a problem to the rest of the world given their absolute
            conviction that it’s their way or death. I believe Carley’s speech was an intellectual exercise not an endorsement of the Muslim way. I doubt that she thinks Sharia law or any of the barbaric behavior of ISIS has any place in the modern world and needs to be addressed if not eliminated.

          • I do not like her way of weighing islam against the West. Her speech was skewed, because, as you say, she ignored the total standstill in the islamic world & did not report the very real & high achievements of the West. I thought that spoke of a deep ignorance of what the West achieved.

          • I must say one of the doubts I have about her is her ability to talk
            around a subject, seemingly intelligently, but actually not very versed
            in it. It is common among the intellectual set to give some ground
            (call it political correctness or relativism) to give them standing among
            those they are trying to impress. Perhaps I am doing it now! Well,
            I think what Carley said back in 2001 is not a piece of her bedrock
            beliefs that she’d govern by. I have more trouble with Trump who
            supported the likes of Hillary and Pelosi and makes a poor excuse for
            doing so, and he still has it in his belief set that single payer health is
            the way to go and there’s a “golden door” in his magic wall for him to welcome back the people he’s deported. In short, Carly is not my favorite, but if it is a woman we are to elect to the Presidency, let it be her rather than Hillary!

          • I’d rather the USA voted for neither of these two women. I don’t think Mr Trump is so far wrong (e.g. Mexico, to cut off the weapons smuggled in from the USA, might indeed be willing to pay for the wall, just to limit the number of drug-smuggling related murders in their country). I also think Mr Trump can easily say he supports Mrs Clinton, but he won’t have her in his cabinet if he’s voted in! I like Dr Carson & I was impressed by Mr Cruz in the debate! (Although Mr Obama sneers at the Republicans for being unable to handle 3 ‘moderators’ …)

          • I wonder how much of Trump’s bravado about the wall is real and how
            much he really thinks he can do? Deport 12 million? make the Mexicans
            pay for it? get congress to go along with it all? I think he’s got a lot of doing to do other than just saying and expecting our believing. I like
            Cruz for his anti establishment overview and his ability to speak
            intelligently about it. Rubio is good too and would be a great counterpoint to the wicked witch, Hillary. There is a lot of good talent on the Republican bench. I don’t suppose there will be any trouble selecting a good VP candidate regardless who has the top of the ticket while on the Democrat side I see nothing.

            Nice chatting with you!

          • I do think in ‘the world of business’ Mr Trump is very able (and I don’t know that he might not already have spoken to Mexicans who want the ongoing murders with firearms from the USA stopped). I also do like his plan to rid the USA of illegal aliens (at least as far as he can, for every country has them). Meantime, read at (if you have not yet). I also like Mr Cruz (although Mr Obama sneered at the Republican candidates for being ‘afraid’ of the moderating panel). You’re right, Mr Rubio’s also good. I also like Dr Carson (anyone who says the SDA church should ordain women is very brave). The only slogan for this election should be: No Clintons, No Bushes, No Fiorina. I like talking to you too: thank you for your kindness & patience!

          • Likewise! I just have to add, don’t take Trump’s self proclaimed wealth
            and ability to make a deal as the gold standard on how to act as president. There is a bit too much self promotion in his demeanor (is that an exaggeration or an understatement?). He has faced bankruptcy four times and managed to leave others holding the bag and does not seem to hold much empathy for those that were hurt (and they all were not just rich people like him.) When I look at how they treated Romney, who was just trying to save businesses from failing, what they might do to Trump on this issue could be very damaging and perhaps not unjustifiably so.
            Well, I’m with you that the Republicans have a lot of good candidates
            seeking the presidency, I would include Carly in the mix and drop
            Trump for the copious reasons I have given above, but I’d support any of
            them over Hillary. It’s good to run into someone who is as interested and

            concerned with the decision that needs to be made in 2016 as I and is
            willing to discuss their thoughts in such a forum.

          • No, I don’t simply take Mr Trump at his own valuation (and I dislike the way he sometimes speaks to & about others, like Megan Kelly & lately Dr Carson). And after her speech I wouldn’t include Mrs Fiorina (because I think islam is the greatest enemy of the present world & of the Judean-Christian values & laws of this world … islam is even, if I dare say it, more dangerous than climate change). I am not an American and I don’t live in the USA, but the USA directly & greatly influences the rest of us, so we should take an interest. The young Mr Cruz is becoming quite a favourite with me …
            May the 2016 decision be a good one, for the USA & for the world.Thank you for your patience & kindness to an old lady!

          • What a surprise to learn that you are not an American citizen!
            We could use a lot more informed and interested citizens like you.

          • Two of our children, with their spouses & children once thought of emigrating to the USA (now I am very grateful that they didn’t). In the end, weighing up pros & cons, they went to New Zealand and they are very happy there & our grandchildren love their new country & the opportunities they have there. But thank you for the compliment! I am simply interested, but not, I think, wildly well-informed.

          • We could use some solid immigrant stock. Our loss. I have a daughter
            who is living in Denmark with her Canadian husband and child and a
            sister who as been living in Canada for 30 years or more. Both are
            hopelessly liberal and still feel their duty to vote here. Is that Ironic?
            I love them both but I think you have a better grasp on the issues and
            what’s at stake than they do. Cheers!

          • Strange, but when our two sets of children & their children arrived in NZ, the custom officers said, ‘So glad you came. We need you. We need younger people with children’. They’ve been hearing this for nearly 3 years now, from shop owners & tradesmen, from teachers & librarians … in fact, from everyone who sees them with their children. But, being the children of their father & me, they are hopelessly conservative … right down to going to church! And they will soon have citizenship in their new country & be able to vote.

          • I don’t want to be a downer, but a few years ago I read a book written
            by Marc Stein, an immigrant to the US from England. He’s conservative
            but his book,” America Alone” points out that most of the free world
            countries have such low birth rates that they will have an insufficient
            work class to support their aging population. It was especially true in
            Greece and we can already see the turmoil it is causing but, to a lessor
            extent, it’s true throughout Europe with their birthrates below the 2,1
            children per couple needed to keep the demographics level. There is
            no wonder why they greeted your children with open arms in New
            Zealand as they do my daughter’s family in Denmark. Why was the
            title “America Alone”? Well, at least back then, America’s birth rate
            was the only one in the Free World exceeding the 2.1 magic number
            but only by a little and largely because of all the Hispanics flooding
            over our borders. To support Stein’s argument you will note that the
            the Germans were willing to take in a large number of the Muslim
            refugees precisely for this reason. The depressing thing is that the
            Muslim world is breeding like rabbits and by demographics alone,
            they will inherit the world in a few generations, if they don’t blow it
            up before hand.

          • I also read Mr Steyn’s book. And some time ago (before 2012) there was a video on the internet that also showed how the muslims’ breeding rate leaves us behind, with very clever graphics (but I don’t remember a title). The other thing, of course, is abortion. I read that the USA had aborted something like 57m babies. If those children had grown up & were now working, America would have far fewer economic problems … & far more people to defend her, if necessary.

          • Problem is, one reads & sees so much that, unless another person also remembers a book/video/film/song, it’s as if one lives all alone in this wide world. Glad somebody else is out there, Sir!

  2. There two people that shoulder never be allowed anywhere near the Oval Office and they are, Jeb, or Hillary!
    Jeb with his Father “Read My Lips” and his brother Dubya “Dumber Than A Box of Rocks” and we just don’t need another Wimp in the oval office like the one we presently have. And Heaven for bit, a full blown criminal in a pant suit.
    YES…anybody, but Jeb, or Hillary!

  3. Debates are a waste of time. If you get called on for a useful question, there isn’t time to be specific. No one wins. Cruz , it seems “won” by yelling at the moderators, which had nothing to do with debating anything.

  4. If we criticize Hillary we are sexist, if we criticize Obummer, we are racists. I don’t like Hillary for what she stands for and lies, not because she is female. I don’t dislike O because he is half black, and not born in the US, I hate him for what he stands for and his lies.

  5. It is ridiculous to declare a winner or a loser in the so-called debate. It was a joke. Yes, some of the candidates took more time than others. I would have been like Dr. Carson; Why enter into this nonsense? You cannot measure anything about any candidate from this last so-called debate. It was a joke. Jeb needs to hang it up. Hillary supporters are mostly only supporting her because she is a woman. The Democrats just simply do not have anyone worth anything running for president. I would write my own name in before I ever voted for any of the Democrats presently running.

  6. No Clinton, no Bush, no Fiorina! (If you don’t know why no Fiorina, please google her post 9/11 speech.) She is woefully uninformed on the history of islam & the history of the West, including her own country.

  7. Jeb Bush is the only executive in the race for the WH!! I know a large number of conservatives are holding back and some will not vote if Jeb is the nominee, but if you sit it out allowing the Felon Bitch Hillary Clinton to take up residency in the OVAL, office her and all her gang of lunatics just hang on and watch the country go further in the HOLE of HELL

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