Video: Luntz group declares Rubio winner of non-yuuuuge debate

posted at 8:41 am on January 29, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

The big reveal never happened last night, as Donald Trump followed through on his threat to hold a competing event to the RNC debate on Fox New in Iowa last night, but the remaining candidates spent the night mixing it up. After the moderators attempted to “focus on the elephant that’s not in the room” in the first segment, though, the candidates mainly ignored Trump to debate each other. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz got the most time to speak, and also the most preparation from the moderators, making it look at times as though these were the top two candidates in Iowa.

Frank Luntz’ ubiquitous focus group called the debate for Rubio:

They weren’t terribly happy with Donald Trump for skipping the debate, but only a few thought it would matter. One concluded that it hurt Cruz the most, and that might have been Trump’s strategy:

I thought most of the candidates in both debates acquitted themselves reasonably well, with the exception of Ben Carson, who still looked out of his depth on stage. At one point, Carson appeared surprised to take a question, and his answer showed that he wasn’t prepared for it when it came. Jim Gilmore offered a pretty good argument for an appointment as Secretary of Defense. Otherwise, for the most part, everyone other than Cruz and Rubio provided familiar performances and debate strategies, right down to Chris Christie’s routine-but-still-effective “a pox on Senators” exclamation.

Both Cruz and Rubio came in with different strategies from previous debates, apparently hoping to fill the vacuum left by Trump. Cruz seemed to be looking to pick a fight with the moderators early, but got shut down by Chris Wallace rather firmly. Cruz also tried joking about walking off the stage if the moderators kept asking “mean questions,” but the audience didn’t get the joke, and Rubio followed up by saying he would stick around no matter what questions got asked. It looked like Cruz tried a little too hard to mock Trump and ended up with a bit of egg on his face — but only for a moment.

Rubio came in looking to dominate by asserting himself more often, sticking to national security as much as possible, and pushing back hard on any criticism that came his way. For the most part that worked, although he and Cruz ended up getting tangled in previous statements on immigration aired by the moderators during the debate. Both took fire from others on stage during the exchanges — Rubio from Jeb Bush, Cruz from Rand Paul — that briefly set them back, but both rebounded well.

As the Luntz group also concluded, I felt Rubio did the most good for himself in the debate, but I also think Cruz did better than the Luntz group concluded. Will this change the direction of the race in Iowa? It could shuffle the order of the likely top-three finishers in Monday’s caucuses — Trump, Cruz, and Rubio — but those will be the medal winners in any case.

Rubio also got the answer of the night in this 75-second clip. Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake quipped that “there was so much red meat, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse would be jealous.” The only people who didn’t love this were Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and the Swedes:


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Comments

Nailed

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2016 at 12:01 PM

“Frank Luntz’ ubiquitous focus group called the debate for Rubio”

Meh. Rubio managed to get zinged by hapless airhead Jeb. Jeb who lost his train of thought between “Monday” and “night” when trying to say “Monday night”.
Rubio’s tone is always ‘kid frantically trying to explain to his angry dad why he didn’t do his chores’.

One32ndHekawi on January 29, 2016 at 12:02 PM

MOOK SPOOKED: Hillary manager predicts Trump will win presidency if nominated!

Democrats aren’t laughing about Donald Trump anymore. He has them all but admitting defeat.

In a stunning admission, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager predicts in an email that Donald Trump will become president if he wins the Republican nomination.

“If Donald Trump takes the Republican nomination, our party will lose more than the presidency,” Robby Mook writes to supporters.

“Years of progress will be ripped away. Obamacare will be repealed. Marriage equality will be rolled back. Get excited to visit the wall on the Mexico border
http://www.theamericanmirror.com/mook-spooked-hillary-manager-predicts-trump-will-win-presidency-if-nominated/

Garyinaz66 on January 29, 2016 at 12:04 PM

People, I love ya but get the sleep out of your eyes.

The “debate” was a nothingburger.

Three days to Iowa.

Meremortal on January 29, 2016 at 12:04 PM

Romney did his job. He won Independents by 6 points. Evangelicals preferred the Islamophile/Closet Muslim to the Gentlemanly Mormon and stayed home, thus giving us the nightmare of the last 3 years.

Basilsbest on January 29, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Exit polls showed Romney got an equal or greater percentage of evangelical voters as McCain did, and Romney got more votes, overall.

This is pure, made up BS. Evangelicals did not stay home for Romney. Romney ran a lousy campaign. He is the one who gave us four more years of Obama.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/2012-exit-polls/table.html

JannyMae on January 29, 2016 at 12:12 PM

But hey, we should fall for the “Elect Rubio and we promise to be conservative this time” ploy? Right?

Elect Trump and you are guaranteed not to have one. On any issue, including immigration. Trump has not been consistent on a single issue from what he has said previously.

So, why do you believe him? Because he now says so? Really? Then apply that litmus test to Rubio.

So, for arguments sake, let’s say both are liars. Fine.
I’d rather take someone who has deeply held convictions on a number of conservative issues (Rubio), and take a chance on the others, than a candidate who has no convictions at all and looks at every issue as a bargaining chip (Trump).

Caveat Emptor.

bigdubs on January 29, 2016 at 12:25 PM

“If Donald Trump takes the Republican nomination, our party will lose more than the presidency,” Robby Mook writes to supporters.

“Years of progress will be ripped away. Obamacare will be repealed. Marriage equality will be rolled back. Get excited to visit the wall on the Mexico border

Fundraising scare tactics. The Dems should be afraid of Donald Trump, but because of the threat he poses to Obamacare and gay marriage. He is sympathetic with both, if not enamored of the gobsmackingly incompetent way in which Obamacare was designed and implemented.

As for the wall, I think he wants to build it, but I think that once he understands the true opportunity cost of doing so, he may decide that it’s not worth it. There’s a cost to not doing it, especially to him, so I think there’s a chance he will. But if he talks McConnell (or whoever) into bringing it up, then lets it die a lonely death in the Senate, then you’ll know he got talked out of it. Regardless of what Trump actually does, I don’t believe for a second that the Democrats are afraid that he’s going to build a wall. They don’t believe the political will exists anywhere to make that happen.

If the Dems win the Senate, it will never get a vote. He’ll have to find his wall funding somewhere in the existing budget and use existing law to justify building. Doable, but it won’t be dramatic.

Immolate on January 29, 2016 at 12:28 PM

The debate clearly showed for all to see how mean and miserable Cruz can come off even when he doesn’t meant to do so. He is a poor communicator by his image. Trump is Trump, an egomaniac that will be easy for the Dems to defeat. The only winner, if there was one was Rubio. Winners of debates do not necessarily translate into votes, but over the long haul you can see which candidates have the greatest potential with all the voters, not just voters in one state or another. Rubio appears to be by far, the best of the bunch and would beat Hillary without sounding like a mean SOB

jake22 on January 29, 2016 at 12:31 PM

I remember the last cycle when one of Duntz’s Group said Romney would be the winner.

alanstern on January 29, 2016 at 12:51 PM

Trump is Trump, an egomaniac that will be easy for the Dems to defeat.

jake22 on January 29, 2016 at 12:31 PM

Keep repeating this to yourself, then pull the covers over your head. Everything’s going to be ok, we’ll check back in with you after Iowa/New Hampshire.

WestportSC on January 29, 2016 at 1:13 PM

Elect Trump and you are guaranteed not to have one. On any issue, including immigration. Trump has not been consistent on a single issue from what he has said previously.

So, why do you believe him? Because he now says so? Really?

bigdubs on January 29, 2016 at 12:25 PM

No, I believe him on immigration because…

1) He enlisted Jeff Sessions, the most conservative immigration expert in Congress to write his immigration policy. Jeff Sessions has also appeared with Trump at one of his rallies.

2) Trump hired Stephen Miller, a key aide of Jeff Sessions for the last 7 years, as a senior policy advisor.

3) Miller helped formulate Sessions’ stance on guest-worker visas, illegal border entries, crimes committed by illegal aliens and refugees, and visa overstays.

4) Miller guided Sessions through numerous interviews as the senator opposed the push for amnesty that was supported by “Gang of Eight” member Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and many other Republicans.

5) Trump proposed limiting immigration for Muslims until the vetting process could be tightened up.

6) Trump had the media debating the Constitutionality of “anchor babies” with many Constitution experts agreeing with Trump.

7) Sheriff Joe Arpaio endorsed Trump on Tuesday, and was planning on meeting with Trump in Iowa later this week.

You have to be willfully blind to not see how committed Trump is to the immigration issue. Does that help you sleep better at night, or are you an open borders fan?

dominigan on January 29, 2016 at 1:23 PM

FOX has yet to say that Rubio had anything less than a glowing debate performance since the debates started in August. It’s easy when you get to rehearse your answers to questions you know is coming.

Rubio is not to be trusted.

Right Mover on January 29, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Video: Luntz group declares Rubio winner of non-yuuuuge debate

They always declare Rubio the winner. And Rubio always gets the loudest cheers from the establishment-packed crowd.

That’s why Rubio is stuck at 10%. Because he’s a winner.

jaime on January 29, 2016 at 2:47 PM

In every prior debate, polling indicated that Trump had won the debate. Candidate polling after each debate showed that to be the case as well.

Did Luntz’s group ever agree that Trump won any of those debates?

Just curious, if anyone remembers.

Meremortal on January 29, 2016 at 3:25 PM

What else would you expect Luntz to say?

He was on the Rubio payroll.

Interesting that the daughter of the Fox Executive who crafts debate questions is also on the Rubio payroll.

wyntre on January 29, 2016 at 3:32 PM

Here are the links to those stories.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/29/marco-rubio-paid-pro-rubio-fox-news-pollster-frank-luntz/

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2016/01/29/rubio-spokesman-worked-for-fox-news-host-dana-perino/

Interestingly, Bill Sammon — FOX News’s vice president of News and Washington managing editor — is the father of Brooke Sammon, who is Rubio’s press secretary

wyntre on January 29, 2016 at 3:37 PM

I thought most of the candidates in both debates acquitted themselves reasonably well, with the exception of Ben Carson, who still looked out of his depth on stage. At one point, Carson appeared surprised to take a question, and his answer showed that he wasn’t prepared for it when it came.

I was listening – they ran an extremely long question then asked Carson to respond, instead of leading with “Dr. C, this is for you” — he had so few questions, and that one wasn’t tailored to him in any way, so I am sure he didn’t expect to be called to answer it (the answer itself was okay).

I would still vote for Carson over any Democrat.

AesopFan on January 30, 2016 at 12:22 AM

Luntz, who’s been paid by the Rubio campaign? Sure Frank, whatever you say.

lonestar1 on January 30, 2016 at 1:06 AM