WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2015 − The second Republican debate produced a lot of spirited discussion among the candidates. Although none of the candidates did real harm to themselves, Carla Fiorina was the clear winner, while Donald Trump was the clear loser.
Months from now, if the Trump frenzy fades and causes him to drop in the polls, analysts will look back at this debate as the beginning of the end for Trump.
Trump’s apparently broad appeal seems to be a perception that he “tells it like it is” rather than issuing the carefully worded, politically correct language the American public has been forced to listen to for the past seven years.
The deception and division that the current administration deploys on a daily basis has been extremely frustrating to the average voter.
Ranging from the Fast and Furious debacle, to the corruption in the IRS, the phony Benghazi video provocation story, Hillary’s continuous email-related lies, the outright deception that Obamacare would bring down health care costs and the current situation with ISIS where intelligence officials claim their reports were altered and turned into talking points that simply are not true, a majority of the voting public is simply fed up with the continued deception and outright falsehoods that have become the stock in trade of this allegedly “transparent” administration.
On the other hand, the public has seen that Donald Trump will tell the truth whether it is politically correct or not. This has broad appeal today.
But in the second Republican debate, hosted by CNN, audiences watched as the candidates talked more about matters of substance and less about style. Trump floundered in this environment. His message of making American great again is welcomed, but he still has yet to tell us exactly how he intends to do that. He has not put forth any specific plans, although he says his economic plan will be released shortly. Americans are wondering if he really has such a plan.
Instead of being intimidated by Trump’s bullying, the other candidates stood up to him and fired back. Some, like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, seemed to come out on top. But the clear winner was Carly Fiorina. She made Trump look unpresidential while creating the impression that she is very presidential.
Trump tried to intimidate her by discussing her appearance and attacking her record as CEO of Hewlett Packard. She responded well and with clear explanations. She even turned the tables on Trump, who at times actually appeared to be afraid of what Fiorina was saying. He stuttered, looked embarrassed and gave shallow answers when questioned.
Fiorina, on the other hand, provided the right answers every time, combining a knowledge of the topics with an understanding of how the issues relate to the core principles of the Republican Party. She even handled the tricky topic of Planned Parenthood funding with aplomb as she emotionally described that organization’s questionable practices.
She challenged Obama and Clinton to watch those graphic videos and then attempt to support their dubious position, namely that Planned Parenthood should continue to receive the nearly half billion dollars taxpayer dollars it receives annually for women’s health care.
Fiorina seemed to connect with voters when she described how difficult it is for parents of children who have lost a battle with drugs. Fiorina spoke of how her personal experiences will shape her policy on drug use, emphasizing treatment rather than incarceration. She had a firm grip on foreign policy and spoke as we would expect a leader to speak.
Her performance likely will result in a big jump in the polls, perhaps putting her within striking range of the current leaders, Trump and Carson.
We will have to wait to see how the debate truly affects Republican voters. But after last night’s CNN debate, it is beginning to look like Fiorina will rise significantly in the polls while Trump will begin to decline.
Most seasoned observers have long believed that Trump will eventually decline in popularity because his campaign thus far has involved far more style than substance and because he seems to change his views so often. Pundits and columnists have been proclaiming for months that Trump would eventually drop in the polls.
But as yet, that hasn’t happened. Trump, thus far, is still on top.
But, given the polished and highly effective performance of Carly Fiorina Wednesday evening, this debate will likely be viewed as the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidential campaign.