Fox Business News was perhaps a mite too self-congratulatory about how well it conducted tonight’s debate — but the contrast with CNBC’s embarrassing performance was sufficiently stark that I can forgive it. The questions were intelligent and the moderators were prepared.
I thought the candidates all performed at roughly their average level. Bush avoided a reprise of his CNBC disaster, and did a better job than the other candidates of taking the fight to Hillary Clinton. Fiorina, Cruz, and Rubio all did well, as they usually do. Carson’s appeal does not seem to have a lot to do with how well he debates. I doubt that many Republicans found Kasich or Paul appealing on either substance (too far removed from the party mainstream in some ways) or style (frequently peevish). Trump did not seem to have a whole lot to say.
On both immigration and sugar subsidies, Cruz started making an argument that seemed like it would logically lead to a criticism of Rubio — but refrained from actually criticizing him. I can see the point of criticizing him, or of keeping his powder dry. I don’t understand the point of what he did (which doesn’t mean there wasn’t one).
And the Rubio–Bush pyrotechnics we were led to expect? Didn’t happen.