GOP debate

Latest GOP Debate — Rubio Rising

fox news focus group marco rubio

It would appear that there are a great many outlets who really, REALLY, want Donald Trump to have succeeded in “winning” last night’s GOP debate without having actually been there.

Vox Vox-splained it this way:

My colleagues are saying Donald Trump won the debate, because in his absence the rest of the Republican candidates cut each other down. But Trump won the debate in another way: His absence from the debate appears to have hurt viewership, as he predicted.

Early numbers suggest that between 11 million and 13 million viewers watched the Fox News debate, which is about half of the audience Trump drew to the first Fox News debate in August, when the event drew a record-breaking 23 million viewers. (We’ll have more precise numbers later in the day.)

(My suggestion is to keep an eye out for those more precise numbers.)

And while CNN Money has to begrudgingly admit that Fox had better ratings than the rival cable stations showing Trump’s event, that means nothing:

So Thursday’s debate was bigger — but not by much. The other five GOP debates of the cycle have had household ratings ranging from 8.9 to 15.9.

That’s why Trump can claim victory. (His campaign had no immediate comment about the ratings on Friday.)

Actual viewership numbers will be available later in the day on Friday. Fox News likely had 11 million to 13 million viewers for the debate.

But one thing is ultimately unknowable: How many more viewers would have watched if Trump had been center stage?

Which Candidates are Rising After South Carolina Debate?

Everyone has their opinion of the new ladscape after last night’s GOP debate in Charleston. Is Trump still dominant? Did he and Ted Cruz break up? How much will the “New York values” moment hurt the Texas Senator? Will Marco’s new found passion ignite a fire for him in the hearts of voters? Did he expose Cruz as a master flip-flopper and cynical politician? Is Jeb actually the adult on the stage pulling the puppet strings (I’ll be honest: that last one seems plausible to me)? Just why in the world weren’t Fiorina and Paul — despite being low in the polls, which is the metric for qualification — on that main stage (although Paul’s boycott of the undercard debate led to a boost in attention for him on social media, a situation better for him as an also-ran as anything else would be)?

Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist has a quick roundup that covers the bases beyond the usual “Yeah, but who won?!” claptrap. She seems to have drawn a similar conclusion to just about every other wise pundit who keeps a weather eye on these things: the field has narrowed to 3 — Trump, Cruz, Rubio. (Although her piece has some other interesting points and is worth the read in full).

I’ll add only three things…

Trump, and Cruz, and Civil Discourse

Just in time for tonight’s debate, Donald Trump spread his particular brand of Holiday joy at a gathering last night in Vegas, near where the GOP debate is scheduled to take place. Here’s a rather astonishing takedown of the event, where apparently things looked more like the beginnings of a bar brawl rather than a serious campaign speech. And the man himself was crucial in keeping blood boiling. Here’s a disturbing snippet:

Trump, meanwhile, gleefully narrated the madness from his podium like a tabloid talk show host presiding over an on-camera brawl between guests — egging on the confrontation, whipping the audience into a frenzy, and basking in his fans’ celebratory chants.

“Trump! Trump! Trump! Trump!”

“This is what we should have been doing to the other side for the last seven years!” Trump exclaimed during one of the scuffles with protesters.

At several points, Trump berated the reporters in the room for taking pictures of the clashes. “They are terrible!” Trump hissed of the press. “The worst!” Hundreds of riled-up Trump fans turned to face the press corps, and booed loudly.

Rage on GOP,c_limit/cnbc-gop-debate.jpg


Our Commander in Chief drew a big laugh with this little quip last night:

Heh. Good one Mr. President. I mean, you’re good at the snark. It’d be great if that were a really necessary and important part of the job you’ve had for the last 7 years, but funny is always good. And, you’re not wrong. In fact, the debacle that was the CNBC debate has led to some pretty interesting calls for change in the coming debates:

This time, especially following the CNBC debate Wednesday, candidates are complaining that the moderators are taking too much airtime, keep interrupting those on stage and are biased against conservatives. Front-runners say that those stuck in single digits in the polls shouldn’t even be in the debates while the dark horses complain that being confined to second-tier events is killing their campaigns.

ICYMI: GOP debate at the Reagan Library

In case you weren’t able to catch it last night, here is the full video of the Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. You’ll notice that the debate was centered around Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, not surprising since the race is largely between the two of them right now.

While Perry and Romney sparred and the former also took heat for laying the blueprint for ObamaCare, they came out of the debate OK. This was also Jon Huntsman’s best debate performance, to the point that I’d say he was a winner (and I’m not a fan of the guy, though his tax reform plan is very good). And as much I hate to say it, Ron Paul came off very bad last night; not that he is a good debater anyway. Michele Bachmann, who was barely noticed, and everyone else were just window dressing.

You can read a fact-check of the debate here.

LIVE BLOG: GOP Presidential Candidate Debate

Eight of the candidates seeking the Republican nomination will square off tonight at the Reagan Library in California. It’s Rick Perry’s first formal debate since joining the field of candidates. All eyes will be on him as he tries to live up to the hype.

What to watch for:

The debate, organized by Politico and NBC News, will begin at 8pm. We’ll begin chatting here around 7pm.

Trump backs out of Newsmax debate

Donald Trump has backed out of the December 27th debate, hosted by the conservative magazine, Newsmax, after several Republicans candidates turned down invitations to participate. Why? Well, Trump says it’s because he is still considering an independent bid for president:

Donald Trump has backed out of moderating a Republican debate because, he says, he’s still considering running for president as an independent candidate.

In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said that GOP candidates are “very concerned” that he will announce an independent candidacy after “The Apprentice” ends, and that they won’t agree to a debate with him unless he rules that out. Which he won’t do.

“It is very important to me that the right Republican candidate be chosen to defeat the failed and very destructive Obama Administration, but if that Republican, in my opinion, is not the right candidate, I am not willing to give up my right to run as an Independent candidate,” Trump said in his statement. “Therefore, so that there is no conflict of interest within the Republican Party, I have decided not to be the moderator of the Newsmax debate.”

Rick Perry moving up in Iowa?

After coming on strong in August and September and largely stealing Michele Bachmann’s thunder, Rick Perry was knocked down a peg after a some bad debate performances and gaffes. But don’t look now, Perry may be making a comeback in Iowa, at least according to a new poll from the American Research Group (ARG).

  • Newt Gingrich: 22% (-5)
  • Ron Paul: 17% (+1)
  • Mitt Romney: 17% (-3)
  • Rick Perry: 13% (+8)
  • Michele Bachmann: 7% (+1)
  • Rick Santorum: 7% (+1)
  • Jon Huntsman: 5% (+2)
  • Other: 1%
  • Undecided: 12%

As you can see, Perry has seen an 8 point jump in his numbers since the last ARG poll, while Gingrich and Romney have declined. Here are some other key points from the poll from the Houston Chronicle:

Perry’s in fourth with 13 percent, almost as much as the 14 percent support he had in September when his campaign trail looked a bit smoother than it’s turned out to be.

Perry, however, jumps slightly ahead of Paul (still within the four-point margin-of-error) with strong Republican respondents, pulling 14 percent of their support to Paul’s 13 percent. But Paul rules the Independent vote in Iowa—a full 39 percent of respondents identifying as Independents say they’ll vote for him. Gingrich is first with Republicans and second with Independents, but Jon Huntsman, perennially stuck at the bottom of the pack, is close behind him with Independents, polling with 13 percent of their support.

GOP Presidential Power Rankings

There wasn’t a shake up in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for president in the last week. It certainly looks like Newt Gingrich is tightening his grip as the frontrunner and Mitt Romney is becoming desperate to knock him down. Meanwhile, Ron Paul is emerging as a legitimate candidate.

You can see the latest polling out of Iowa here. And in case you missed it, Saturday evening’s debate at Drake University in Des Moines, you can watch it below.

Please note that we’ve removed Herman Cain (suspended campaign) and Gary Johnson (likely running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination) from the power rankings.

The News

Rick Perry declines invite to Trump debate

Rick Perry became the latest Republican hopeful to decline an invitation to the debate that will be moderated by Donald Trump on December 27th in Iowa:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the latest GOP presidential candidate to decline an invitation to the controversial debate that will be hosted by Donald Trump, saying that “retail campaigning” in the days leading up to the Iowa caucuses is his “top priority.”

“Gov. Perry has talked to Donald Trump in recent days and respects him and the folks at Newsmax very much,” said campaign manager Ray Sullivan in a statement. “In the coming weeks, Gov. Perry will be in Iowa almost continually, meeting with real voters, doing town-hall meetings and events and talking American jobs, faith and overhauling Washington, D.C., to Iowa voters.”

The campaign also pointed out that there are two debates in the next seven days.

Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney have already declined invitations. Michele Bachmann backed out yesterday. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has urged candidates not to attend, largely because Trump is still kicking around the idea of running in an independent or third party bid.

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