Tonight’s debate gave Republican candidates a chance to upset Donald Trump’s lead as the Iowa caucuses approach, but missing man Trump, still took home the win.
In past debates, success has meant different things. In earlier debates, the meaning of “winning” depended on the individual candidate: gain larger endorsements, have a breakout moment, show a more humanized side, upstage a competitor’s policy proposal – the list goes on. But, tonight’s debate challenged our very idea of a debate “W”. You might not even have to be physically on stage.
Donald Trump, the “elephant not in the room,” as Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly proclaimed, still managed to land a seat in the form of sporadic jokes and attacks. However, Trump may have still gained by bowing out of the debate. While engaging in previous debates have not always been Trump’s strong suit, action and the ability to get people talking has been.
Partnering with Google, Fox News was able to produce data throughout the debate, placing national security at the top of America’s priorities. With this priority, you might think Former Gov. Jeb Bush won, with his tough exchanges, and stepping out of his brother’s shadow. In commentary afterwards, The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer noted that Bush had one of his best nights, maybe even better than the rest of the group. You could also say that perhaps the moderators won, equipped with their video footage to remain tough and call candidates out, marking Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Ted Cruz points down.
You could rule out Dr. Ben Carson for his fumble with foreign policy.
But, in determining the winner, I believe you have to look at the larger context of this race. This presidential race has already proven to be unlike any other: Front runners include businessman Trump, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, and there remains speculation about billionaire publisher and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may enter the race. The American people are looking outside the typical political realm and the polls show that they are craving something new.
While this debate showed a new depth of substance and rich discussion of policy and issues, action is ultimately of the utmost importance. And, I wouldn’t put it pass people to take stock of the $5,000,000 Trump raided for military veterans during the debate. We will wait for the results of the Iowa vote.