Rubio wins with a one-two punch

Republicans head home to Milwaukee for the fourth debate of the year

Sarah Lentz, Political Analyst

Last night, the fourth Republican debate of this election cycle took place in Milwaukee, Wis., birthplace of the Grand Old Party. Hosted by the Wall Street Journal and Fox Business, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Tim Kasich and Rand Paul faced off to focus specifically on matters of the economy and restoring American prosperity.


Who’s out?


Without a doubt, Cruz. It’s clear to see he’s punching above his weight. He is neither as charismatic nor well-spoken as any other candidate on the stage. In a race with this many people, he needs to possess one or the other and he just doesn’t.


Bush could also be out of this race. He was so totally forgettable that if he wasn’t talking, one could forget that he was even there at all, even when Bush was on screen. Bush did effectively slam Hillary Clinton as often as he could, but being president of the “I hate Hillary” club doesn’t get you the oval office.


Kasich was flirting with the GOP danger zone as well. In this debate, he really had little of substance to say and, like Democratic senator Jim Webb, did a little too much moderating for the moderators. Kasich also dodged one too many questions about the economy and specifically Chinese trade relations.


Who’s in trouble?


Oh how the mighty have fallen. Trump did his best, but it probably wasn’t enough to keep his numbers in the polls up. For some reason, he was the picture of lack luster last night. He was almost silent, when compared to other debate appearances and did very little to actually outline any piece of policy. He touted his big picture ideas as always, but failed to deliver the details. Trump even got booed by the crowd when he asked why Fiorina was “always interrupting.”


Trump was the most vocal when it came to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement between the U.S. and countries in the Pacific, and immigration, of course. Trump even found a way to bemoan Mexico while talking about the TPP. His constant vilification of Latin America may start to cost him voters if he doesn’t watch it.


Paul and Carson may be in jeopardy for basically the same reasons. They didn’t use their time effectively. Paul got into a “who’s more conservative?” competition with Rubio that just didn’t quite get the reaction he was hoping for. Paul also had to do some backtracking to stop himself from contradicting past statements.


Carson had similar issues. He had far less screen time than Paul, but when he got his time to speak there was nothing of consequence coming out. He did show a little more coherent spunk than past outings, but only marginally. Lastly, Carson really didn’t field any difficult questions. He had almost nothing to say on any matters of foreign policy, other than that somehow, the U.S. needs to find a way to make ISIS look “like losers.”


Who hit?


Fiorina had a solid showing in the debate. She held her ground and her zero-based budgeting platform seemed to be a hit with the audience in attendance. She didn’t allow anyone to steamroll her on any of her issues and probably did the best job highlighting exactly how she would implement her policies.


Rubio was the night’s winner. He’s a candidate that could be tolerable to the far right, but more importantly, he may be the GOP’s silent-centrists’ knight in shining armor. He spoke extensively about the importance of fixing higher education and defeated Paul in their own personal tax reform scuffle.