Speaker Ryan, Cruz & Rubio Score Big, the Biggest Loser
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin became Speaker Ryan [Thursday] morning. In doing so, he becomes the youngest speaker of the House in nearly 150 years. He is now second in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden.
While I have concerns about some of Ryan’s positions, I will say this for the new leader of the House: Well-known for his devotion to policy solutions, Paul Ryan is one of his party’s most articulate spokesmen. There will be many contentious battles in the weeks and months ahead, and his ability to articulate a conservative vision for the country will be tested like never before.
I look forward to working with Speaker Ryan as he seeks to restore balance to our constitutional republic by truly making Congress a co-equal branch of government once again. He should begin by lending his full support to the impeachment efforts against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Cruz & Rubio Score Big
Here’s my analysis of the key moments from [Wednesday] night’s Republican debate.
JEB BUSH — The pressure was on Bush [Wednesday] night to take his game to a new level. His performance was widely panned. Politico surveyed “top operatives, activists and strategists” in the first four early voting states immediately after the debate. Their results found that “Nearly 60 percent of respondents said Bush lost the CNBC debate, botching his comeback opportunity.”
It’s not that Bush made big gaffes, he just didn’t stand out. Viewers didn’t hear or see anything that would lead them to think that Bush is the best candidate for the job. Commentators right and left are saying this morning that Bush reinforced the sense that he is not a very good candidate. It’s worth remembering that the last time he ran for office was 2002 — more than 10 years ago.
BEN CARSON — It can be argued that Dr. Ben Carson is the current GOP front runner. He has hit a nerve with evangelical Christians, especially evangelical women.
But during [Wednesday] night’s debate on economic issues, he was unable to tell us what his proposed flat tax rate would be. Later on, it sounded as if he was proposing a consumption tax too — in addition to a flat tax on income — when he talked about how much money would be generated from “a 15 percent tax on your gross domestic product.”
CHRIS CHRISTIE — New Jersey Governor Chris Christie knocked it out of the park when he took on an incredibly dumb question about government regulation of fantasy football.
“Carl, are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football?” Christie asked. “We have $19 trillion in debt. We have people out of work. We have ISIS and al Qaeda attacking us. And we’re talking about fantasy football? Can we stop?” (Watch it here.)
TED CRUZ — Senator Cruz had THE moment of the debate when he denounced the moderators for trying to create a “cage match” between the candidates. He did not complain about the questions posed to him, but he called out the moderators for the absurd questions posed to fellow candidates. (Watch it here.) Cruz’s response set a record with focus group viewers.
MARCO RUBIO — I wrote [Wednesday] that Senator Rubio would likely be confronted on his Senate attendance record. A rival campaign had spent the last several days stoking the issue, believing the media would take the bait. They did and Rubio was ready.
He noted that the media were not at all concerned when liberal senators who were running for president regularly missed votes.
The audience also roared its approval he compared the media to a left-wing Super PAC. (Watch it here.)
DONALD TRUMP — The former GOP front runner held his own, but did not dominate the show. He definitely moderated his demeanor and tone, perhaps in an attempt to appear more statesman-like. He did not attack Ben Carson, as was expected. Instead, Trump went after Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The Biggest Loser
Without any question, the biggest loser of the night was CNBC and moderators John Harwood, Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla.
For example, after opening the debate by asking all the candidates to name their biggest weakness, John Harwood kicked off the questioning with this gem to Donald Trump: “Let’s be honest, is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
Immediately following the debate, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blasted CNBC, calling the performance of the moderators “extremely disappointing,” adding “CNBC should be ashamed of how this debate was handled.”
Sean Hannity said, “This is going to go down in history as a really bad night for the media.”
However, former Attorney General Ed Meese isn’t letting GOP leaders off the hook. Meese called the debate a “verbal shooting gallery set up by CNBC.” He said, “Whoever selected the moderators should be fired and the RNC leaders who allowed it should be condemned.”