The winner of last night’s Republican presidential candidates debate was Senator Marco Rubio. The runner-up was the Tax Foundation, which was somehow mentioned more times than Ronald Reagan.
This was the CNBC debate, which meant that economic issues were at the forefront. Mercifully, the moderators scrapped the CNN approach of poking Donald Trump with a stick for the entire first hour, and got down to substance rather quickly. Also mercifully, the event was limited to two hours rather than three, one of the many things for which Trump claimed credit throughout the evening.
The center podiums were reserved for Trump and Ben Carson, who recently switched places in the polls between runner-up and frontrunner. Yet the pack leaders seemed largely absent. Carson’s primary contribution was to seem unacquainted with his own tax plan—“Once we put all the facts down, you’ll see that it’s not true” was his rebuff to one of the moderators—while Trump was far less effective than usual. He didn’t even attack Rand Paul’s hair.