Let’s light this candle. John and I will be updating this thread throughout the festivities right near the top of the post, but before we get to that, let us begin with some appropriate wisdom from the Reverend Jim.
This is the end, beautiful friend. This is the end, my only friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end. Of everything that stands, the end. No safety or surprise, the end.
Afterwards, Trump compliments CNN, calls it an “elegant evening.”
There was no name calling tonight, definitely a different tone. The closest Trump has come to being presidential but it still seemed Rubio and Cruz often had more specific, informed answers.
11:01: Closing statements:
- Kasich emphasizes his positive campaign and promises that will continue.
- Rubio talks about his biography and says the moment has arrived to make things better for future generations.
- Cruz focuses on who, of the remaining candidates, can do the best job taking on Hillary Clinton in the general election.
- Trump talks about the “millions of people” who can be brought into the GOP. Urges party to embrace them and unify.
10:48: One of Trump’s best moments of the night talking about self-funding his campaign: “I don’t want anyone to control me but the people right out there.”
10:45: Cruz says the party needs to respect the will of the voters: “If we nominate Donald Trump, Hillary wins.”
10:40: Hugh Hewitt asks about a contested convention. Trump says “I think I’m going to have the delegates.” As for a contested convention, Trump concludes, “I think whoever takes the most delegates should win.”
10:35: Cruz uses his ask-the-audience, asks who feels disrespected by Washington. He criticizes Trump for asking people to pledge their vote to him at his rallies. Trump follows by saying the Today show was a “total disgrace” trying to compare his rally of people raising their hands to Nazi Germany.
10:31: Jake Tapper asks Trump about the young man who was elbowed in the face at a Trump rally. Trump says people come to his rallies full of anger but he concludes, “I certainly do not condone that.”
10:28: Kasich wants to build a monument to the man who stood down a tank in Tiananmen square. He also wants to pressure China to get rid of Kim Jong-un.
10:12: Rubio has a very strong answer on a good deal with Cuba: “I don’t know where Cuba’s going to sue us but if they sue in a court in Miami they’re going to lose. [cheers] On the issue of a good deal, I know what the good deal is… Here’s a good deal: Cuba has free elections. Cuba stops putting people in jail for speaking out. Cuba has freedom of the press… Cuba takes all those fugitives of American justice, including that cop killer from New Jersey and send her back to the United States and to jail where she belongs. And you know what, then we can have a relationship with Cuba. That’s a good deal.” The fugitive he’s referring to is Assata Shakur, a figure revered by many Black Lives Matter protesters around the country.
10:08: Rubio tells story of veteran who called VA suicide hotline and got voicemail. Here is that story from last month at Military Times.
10:05: Trump on ISIS: “We have to knock ’em out. We have to knock ’em out fast and we have to get back home and we have to rebuild our country which is falling apart.”
9:55: Cruz says “For seven years we’ve face terrorist attacks and President Obama lectures Americans on Islamophobia. That is maddening.”
9:51: (John) Strong answer from Rubio on Muslims who serve in the U.S. military.
9:45: Given the distinct lack of jokes about hands and other body parts, I think I’ll turn this over to John. (Jazz)
9:38: Ted Cruz breaks out the Smoot-Hawley card to play against Trump. Free trade not popular in the room there.
9:29: It took a half hour for Dana to try to goad Rubio and Trump into a fight. Both of them just gave policy answers and didn’t rise to the bait. This may actually be the “softer” debate Trump predicted.
9:24: Nearly one half hour in I’m feeling confused. Somehow a substantive debate on immigration, education and entitlement reform has broken out in the middle of what was supposed to be a food fight.
9:19: Trump lets the Carson endorsement out of the bag and sounds for all the world like he’s going to make him the Secretary of Education.
9:15: Cruz cites building a wall, tripling border patrol and ending sanctuary cities by removing their federal funding. Good round of applause.
9:10: Rubio throws Disney under the bus on H-1B visas. I imagine there will be a call to his office later.
9:05: Interesting. Tapper asks Trump an oppo question about his manufacturing in China vs. his claims of bringing business back. Trump recites something about knowing the visa system and fixing it as president.
8:55: Interesting introductions. Kasich shakes hands with Cruz. Cruz shakes hands with Trump. Rubio walks out and he and Trump don’t even look at each other.
8:48: Reince Priebus comes out and does an admirable job of pretending that everyone will get behind the nominee “no matter who it is.”
8:33: The first major disappointment of the night. I was fooled into believing the debate started at 8:30, but it’s actually one half hour of CNN self promotion.
It’s the end! Well… probably not, but it may well be the end of something. Everyone except Marco Rubio seems to feel that Marco Rubio is at the end of the road unless he can somehow strike a knockout blow against Donald Trump tonight and sink his numbers in Florida. If Marco loses his home state next week that should – in theory – be the end.
This will also, at least according to many cable news sources which I certainly trust for everything, be the end of the #NeverTrump movement’s hopes. Will The Donald finally do or say something so outrageous that even his most ardent and loyal fans will abandon him on Tuesday? If he walks away with wins in most of the states, many observers seem to feel that it’s the end. But is it? Sure… he’s got the Northern Mariana Islands wrapped up, but only Ohio and Florida are truly winner take all. Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina all have strange hybrid rules which are capable of producing an odd mix of delegate distributions. Florida and Ohio are worth more than 160 delegates combined, but it’s no longer a sure thing that Trump will win Ohio by any means. And for that matter, his formerly Yuge lead in Florida has shrunk to single digits in the last survey released today. What would happen if Trump lost both Ohio and Florida? On Wednesday morning it will be an entirely new race.
There was more bad news for Trump when CNN announced the final rules, too. He wasn’t allowed to drape the the stage in Trump golf apparel or replace the backdrop with photos of his various golf resorts. Also, local fire codes prevented him from setting up a grill off to the side serving Trump Steaks to the crowd.
All jokes aside, Trump is anticipating a “softer debate” tonight, keeping with his plan to reunite the party behind him. That sounds like a great idea, but I’m not sure anyone checked with the rest of the contenders. I’m guessing John Kasich will still be Mr. Positive, but Rubio and Cruz will likely pull out all the stops and hit The Donald with every last bit of oppo that’s surfaced over the past two weeks.
Will it work? Color me skeptical. But this one might at least go down in the books as a memorable slug-fest.