Smackdown. Fight Club. Nasty. Ugly. Surreal.
words used by pundits to describe for Thursday’s Republican presidential debate hat most observers say shrunk the 11-person field to a likely two-man race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.
Cruz seemed to effectively shut down Trump’s attempt to cast doubt that he is constitutionally qualified to serve as president, because Cruz was born in Canada to
American citizens. And by dramatically recounting his 9/11 experience, Trump countered the “New York values” tarring Cruz used to question Trumps conservative credentials.
The other four candidates on stage were left to try to claw their way into the fray,
cast aside as the two frontrunners slugged it out.
Now, many political observers predict a two or three man race for the Republican nomination.
And despite an air of resigned acceptance that Donald Trump may indeed become Republican nominee, it is important to remember this: not a single vote has been cast in the race for the White House.
Fight Club: Cruz vs. Trump
Jacob Heilbrunn – The National Interest
The extent to which Trump has reshaped the race is extraordinary. He remains the fulcrum around which the entire GOP primary revolves. … He doesn’t simply differ with the GOP’s traditional stands. He assails them with almost lascivious pleasure. …Absent Trump the debate would have been a much more genteel affair….
Cruz remains the most potent foe of Trump.The former Princeton University undergraduate and Harvard law school graduate is doing a brilliant job of pretending to be a populist…. He even managed to portray his loan from Goldman Sachs as the product of not having the kinds of millions at the disposal of Hillary Clinton.
GOP Candidates Try to Scare the Hell Out of America
Ron Fournier – National Journal
They’re coming to kill you, America. Dirty bombs. Cyberattacks. Electromagnetic pulses. Iran. Dodd and Frank. “Strong, powerful young men.” …the GOP presidential field tried Thursday night to scare the hell out of America….
Americans are justified to be afraid. American leaders should work to calm the public. They should redirect anxieties toward support of well-reasoned responses that make the nation as safe as possible without careening toward another war over false pretenses.
The Skinny on the GOP Debate
Scott McKay – The American Spectator
We’re no longer subjected to cattle-call debates with 10 candidates squabbling over seconds of airtime. Now it’s only seven, and there are opportunities for more substantial discussions. And as such, the performances are getting sharper, and better. …
At this point, a four-man race is where we are. It’s Trump, Cruz, Rubio, and Christie. And any of the four ought to be colossal favorites over whoever the Democrats might belch out of their primaries.
Trump and Cruz Set an Ugly, Nasty Tone
Frank Bruni – The New York Times
Remember that phase of the campaign when Ted Cruz spoke no ill of Donald Trump, who returned the favor?
You may now forget it. Bury it. Write its obituary, in a pen dipped in acid….
By the time it was all over, I was fantasizing about Trump’s promised wall, only it didn’t separate the United States from Mexico. It separated Cruz from Trump, Rubio from Cruz and all three of them from the rest of us, who are looking for leadership, not egos and vitriol.
Can Donald Trump Actually Be the Republican Nominee?
Dan Balz – The Washington Post
What was unthinkable a few months ago no longer is. Trump’s durability in national polls and his standing in the early states have forced GOP leaders — and all his rivals — to confront the possibility that the New York billionaire and reality TV star could end up leading the party into the fall campaign against the Democrats.
The GOP race is now commonly defined as a pair of contests. The first features Trump and Cruz fighting to emerge as the leading candidate in what is either defined as the anger lane, the populist conservative lane or the outsider lane….
The other contest is the battle among more mainstream conservatives, representatives in one form or another of a nervous party establishment worried about protecting down-ballot candidates in the fall.