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Jeb's smirk, Kasich's blunder, and Fiorina's smackdown: The highlights from CNN's GOP debate

In my last GOP debate analysis, I talked about which candidates won support, which candidates lost support, and which candidates did neither.

After a three-hour debate last night, I’m leaving the serious analysis up to you. Who do you think won the debate? Let us know in the official Convention of States Presidential Poll!

Click here to take the poll.

While you consider your choice, here are some highlights I especially enjoyed (or didn’t).

  • At the beginning of the debate, all the candidates looked serious except Jeb Bush, who wore this odd, smug smile. Did you notice? I thought that was weird…
  • In the opening statements, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie hit it out of the park. Fiorina did a nice job deferring to the voters, and Christie going to the audience was a smooth technique.
  • Ben Carson did much better in this debate than in the last one. He seemed much stronger, less hesitant, and his comment about being in the presidential race for “different reasons” was great.
  • As usual, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz nailed their foreign policy. Fiorina also did a nice job, and Huckabee’s comment about our fighting for the survival of western civilization was right on the money.
  • You know who wasn’t on the money? Rand Paul and John Kasich. Yikes. They’re off the grid on foreign policy – definitely not where the GOP electorate is. We can’t tear up the Iran deal, Gov. Kasich? “If” they cheat? They already have.
  • That being said, I did appreciate Rand Paul’s comments about the marijuana issue being a 10th Amendment matter. The states should have the right to decide these issues, not the federal government. Maybe Paul for SCOTUS not POTUS?
  • Trump did what he had to do.  No major gaffes, and while I didn’t think he had the strongest performance, he didn’t do anything to knock him off his frontrunner status. 
  • The biggest highlights of the night came from Fiorina. First, she took on Trump’s comments about her appearance, saying that women all over the country heard very clearly what Trump said in a recent Rolling Stones interview. That garnered some applause from the audience, and I thought she handled that situation well.  But her comments about Planned Parenthood were far and away the most memorable part of last night. She absolutely nailed the heart of the issue – is this the kind of America we want? Does Planned Parenthood’s actions represent the character of our nation?

I am interested in finding out which candidate you thought won the debate. You can vote now in our Official Convention of States Presidential Poll, which you can find by clicking here.