The biggest debate winner? Fox News. Hands down.
Yes, some of the candidates had strong showings that will move them forward. At the top of this list are Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor John Kasich. It wasn’t all that long ago Rubio was being touted as the up and coming star of the Republican Party. But then he became somewhat tentative (and small in the process) and faded from sight and in the the polls. But Rubio reasserted himself on Thursday as one of the three candidates most likely to win the nomination.
Another, of course, is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. But the third came in from under the radar. John Kasich has an extremely strong resume including being governor of the most important electoral state in the country: all together…O.H.I.O. But by design he got in the race late so he could generate some buzz that would have a payoff in the polls. And it worked, barely. Kasich was #10 in a field of ten. But he made the most of it.
Still, Fox News was the runaway winner. Criticized for being the mouthpiece of the Republican Party, the opposite played out Thursday night. Moderators Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier were fair but tough. In the process, they drew praise from the mainstream media. As if this substantive move toward respect wasn’t enough, there was also the audience. 24 million viewers.