Some GOP players stand out in debate



Oliver Holliday

If you told a political analyst six months ago that after the second GOP debate Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina would be first and second in the polls and Scott Walker would have dropped out, they’d probably scoff at you. 

Surprisingly enough, in less than a week after the second debate that is exactly what has occurred. While it’s still early in the race, the second debate has some major implications.

The theme of the night was attacking Trump, which forced him up against the ropes. Sometimes he managed to bounce back, but just as often he seemed a bit overwhelmed and let others’ stronger policy knowledge overwhelm him. Nonetheless, just as in the last debate, Trump found himself with the most time on the microphone. 

One of the candidates slammed by Trump was Carly Fiorina. She was put in a difficult situation when he called her out for her poor performance as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. Despite this, the general consensus puts Fiorina as the outright winner of the debate. 

Political enthusiast Sean Doherty weighs in on her performance: “Carly Fiorina was certainly the most interesting to watch in the debate. She addressed Trump’s insults with class and also had the line of the night with her attack on Planned Parenthood, refocusing the spotlight on the ‘character of our nation”. Denouncing Planned Parenthood, and her very firm and calculated responses to questions on Putin and other foreign policy issues set her apart from the field, especially in the eyes of conservatives. 

Villanova political science professor and elections expert, John Johannes, also had some insights on the debate. “The most interesting thing in the debates is you begin to see the difference between the policy people and the personality people,” Johannes said. “Trump showed he has no policy knowledge, he’s playing to the American notion that you don’t need a politician to do politics. It’s like saying you don’t need an accountant to do accounting or a doctor for surgery.” 

One of these “policy people” is senator Marco Rubio of Florida, whose eloquent and calculated discussion of foreign policy and national security was standout. Not only did he dismantle Obama’s policies in the Middle East, but he also dominated an exchange between him and Trump regarding national security. 

Many of the expected frontrunners such as Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and Chris Christie have been overwhelmed by Trump’s popularity surge and brash nature. Bush came with a bit more fire this debate, even finding himself being complimented by Trump for it. Having generally avoided mentioning his brother during his campaign, Bush was met with thunderous applause when he declared his brother George W. Bush, “Kept us safe.” 

Christie, who would have been the race’s bully had it not been for Trump, has had to adjust his tactics. His appeals to the American people and a few successful and level-headed jabs at Trump made this debate a small victory for Christie’s campaign.  

On Monday, Walker announced he would be dropping out of the race. This is not entirely surprising after yet another underwhelming debate performance. With one more debate to go before primaries, the Republican race is shaping up to be very interesting.