Republicans Rumble In Last Debate Before Iowa Caucuses



Madison Dibble

Before Fox News had asked a single question in the final debate before the Iowa Caucuses, the debate had already become the most talked about debate of the 2016 primaries. Donald Trump vowed to be a no-show in opposition to the “biased” moderator Megyn Kelly and the rest of Fox News. Instead, Trump held a rally for veterans in Iowa. Whether he actually stood in opposition of Fox News and Megyn Kelly is up for debate. It could be a far more calculated political move that simultaneously shows Trump supporting the veteranswhile avoiding the punches from Ted Cruz and the rest of the field.

Nevertheless, this debate was the last hurrah for candidates to make their positions known to the people of Iowa before their votes are cast this upcoming Monday. Plenty of punches were thrown, but their impact will not be felt until the Iowans vote. Here are the debate grades:

Ted Cruz: Senator Cruz had a strong start with his Trump impersonation and dishing out fake insults. He nailed questions regarding his proposed repeal of Obamacare, plans for military rebuilding, and his strong plans for destroying ISIS. However, he took some hits on his immigration stance after a video compilation showed his change in position. His biggest mistake of the night was threatening to leave. “If you ask one more mean question, I may have to leave the stage,” stated Cruz. This statement showed Cruz as petty and immature.

Grade: B-

Marco Rubio: Senator Rubio offered a solid performance throughout the debate. He started out with an aggressive tone on every issue, but his exterior softened and led to the best soundbites of the night including, “We don’t want to be the rest of the world, we want to be the United States of America.” He clearly targeted the Christians in Iowa, hoping to grow his momentum among Evangelicals. Rubio left the debate with some dents following a hard line of questioning on immigration. His “Gang-of-Eight” bill haunted him throughout the debate. With that said, Rubio’s soundbites could gain him some support. His best line of the night was his burn on the socialist, Bernie Sanders. “Sanders would be a great president…of Sweden,” he asserted.

Grade: A-

Ben Carson: Dr. Carson drove home his position as an outsider and as an honest, nonpolitician. He also stood firmly against political correctness. At one point he boldly stated, “We need to stop allowing political correctness to dictate our policies because it’s going to kill us if we don’t.” He lacked the aggressive tone needed throughout the debate to set himself apart from other candidates.

Grade: C

Jeb Bush: With Trump missing from the debate stage, Bush should have seized the moment better than he did. He took every opportunity to remind voters that Trump was not there, however, all that did was remind people how well Trump has handled him in the past. Bush had one shining moment when Rubio stated that Jeb had changed his position on immigration. Jeb responded, “So did you”.

Grade: C+

Chris Christie: Governor Christie did a solid job of separating himself from Congressional insiders. He also tried to pull some conservative votes by saying he will defund Planned Parenthood. Christie’s strongest moment was his attack on Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. “Hillary Clinton put America’s secrets at risk for her convenience.” Christie had a good night, but he has a long way to go to capture the establishment’s vote.

Grade: B+

John Kasich: Governor Kasich reminded everyone that he is the governor of Ohioand that he has balanced a budget. However, this is the same song-and-dance that he has used in every debate. He has said what he did in Ohio, but fails to lay out plans for America.

Grade: C

Rand Paul: Senator Paul did what Paul does: He stated his support for all freedoms. He attacked the field for their support of the NSA’s bulk collections and fielded a question on incarceration rates and drug offences very well. While he never fumbled a question, his libertarian views keep him outside of the Republican mainstream.

Grade: C+

Fox News: The moderators– Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace– were the big winners of the night. They chose pointed questions that were substantive. Along with their strong questioning, they forced the candidates to answer the questions they were asked. It is a simple job, but it is rarely done well.

Grade: A