Who scored points, who had some disappointing moments, and did the Republican candidates make a good case to prospective Latino voters on their economic plans? Mike Madrid and Stephen Nuño weigh in on last night's GOP debate.
Mike Madrid: Kasich Won Without Playing
On a day that bounced from the surreal to the banal for the Republican Party, the Presidential debate in Detroit did not disappoint those looking for a spectacle filled with little substance, crude humor and school yard bullying.
The debate perfectly encapsulated the challenges facing a party whose leading elder statesman publicly rebuked its front runner earlier in the day. Frustrated by the failure of its candidates' ideas to break through the crass mentions of Donald Trump's manliness and Senator Rubio's height, the three leading candidates sparred in an all too familiar scene playing out in the Republican primary.
Governor Kasich, sticking to his tortoise-like slow and steady strategy of discussing substance, emerged as the winner last night. If for no other reason than his refusal to stray into the mud - believing that eventually Republican primary voters will tire of the theater, Kasich won by not playing.
Discipline, substance and level-headedness appears to be Katich's strategy for being the last one standing. He emerged from the debate as the Grand Old Party's best chance at stopping Trump's march to the nomination and is best positioned to beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. Choosing not to Keep up with the Kardashians at this point in the election season is as good a strategy as any.
Mike Madrid is a Republican consultant and a nationally recognized expert on Latino voting trends. He is the principal of the consulting firm Grassroots Lab.
Stephen Nuño: The GOP is Changing the Standards of Civility
Shame is the feeling one has when they recognize they have violated their own set of values, but I got no sense that anyone on the stage or in the audience at last night's debate felt the least bit concerned that any personal boundaries of decorum were being overstepped.
The GOP debates have descended into afternoon talk show brawls with rowdy audiences egging their prospective candidates on to cast personal insults at their challengers. From Donald Trump boasting about the size of his genitals to Ted Cruz resorting to school yard antagonizations, "breathe Donald, breathe...", I marveled at the state of the "Grand Old Party" and what it has become.
And it's no wonder that it has come to this when the Republican audience erupts into a bar room cheer when their leading candidate equates torture and the murder of innocent family members to bravery. The GOP has gone unmoored and on the day that Mitt Romney, the party's former presidential candidate, stands up to evoke some sense of shame over what has transpired over the last year, the current leader of the party takes to Twitter to administer a stream of schoolboy insults.
If you watched the debate last night, you learned nothing of substance except that the GOP popularity contest is inversely proportional to the display of civility by the candidates. John Kasich has shown restraint and measure throughout the campaign season and continues to find himself on the fringes of the election and of the discussion over how the GOP proposes to lead the country.
Finally, in the most telling moment of the night, each candidate pledged to vote and to support Donald Trump should he win the nomination. Despite the danger to the country that the candidates have been arguing Donald Trump presents, despite the incoherence of his positions, and despite that Trump may be the first presidential candidate in a modern public debate to be asked to go on the record whether or not he disavows the Ku Klux Klan, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich promised to support Trump this November.