The Corner

Politics & Policy

The GOP’s Thunderdome Debate

(Michael Ciaglo/Pool/Getty)

Welcome to Thunderdome.

For long stretches, this was one of the best debates of the cycle; certainly the toughest, at times the nastiest, and sometimes the funniest and most fiery. Both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz sense that time is running out and they needed to start landing punches. They probably succeeded with Trump University.

Of course, every time it got really good, CNN’s anchor Wolf Blitzer shifted to the human time-outs, John Kasich and Ben Carson. Neither man added much to the debate, other than Carson’s odd reference to fruit salad and Kasich’s strange suggestion that the president should be sorting out the encryption dispute between the FBI and Apple personally behind closed doors, and not having the dispute argued on the front pages of the newspapers.

Will it change anything? To judge from the results of the three most recent contests, Trump won all the recent debates. Most of his supporters seem unshakable. But after Trump’s big win in Nevada, and some gloomy poll numbers in recent days, both Rubio and Cruz supporters needed to see some real fight in their guys tonight, and they got it. The problem for both is that both of them were good — Cruz with his trademark prosecutorial cross examination style, Rubio with humor and a relentless pace of Trump’s unsavory past — so neither man is going to feel much pressure to drop out.

Finally . . . is Donald Trump really getting audited every year for several years in a row? And he’s only mentioning this now? And this prevents him from releasing any of his tax returns?

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