My reflections on the debate...
Kasich had a great night and in my opinion can be said to have won the debate. His pre-debate comments about the entire field being wacky as all hell seems to have bought him some attention.
Huckabee had one good idea about making a huge effort to cure the diseases (diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and heart disease) that run up healthcare costs. I don’t know how this fits into the conservative meme that all government is evil and that the private sector solves all problems. He dodged a particularly idiotic question about whether Trump was morally suited to govern the country. Good for him.
Christie had a good night rhetorically, coming up with some good quips—at one point, jabbing at the moderator with the line that such behavior is even considered rude in New Jersey.
Both Cruz and Rubio sound a bit studied to me, like “A” students on the high school debate team. They often cited inspiring personal stories, but had little of substance to offer. One website says that Google searches for them spiked, so maybe this just shows that I have no idea what makes Republican primary voters tick.
Fiorina had a good night, pitching a very good case for the evils of government (an idea that I don’t buy but one that will resonate well with Republicans).
Carson didn’t have much of interest to say and what he did say was uniformly unrealistic and unimaginative. I can’t believe that he won any new converts.
Trump didn’t get many of his one-liners in. He was often unfairly targeted by the moderators (probably helping to reinforce viewers’ perception of him as the non-establishment outsider.) His line that all things will be solved by increases in the size of the American economy under his leadership was infantile, as were his comments that having guns everywhere will prevent shootings. But then again, much of the Republican electorate who respond to polls appears to be infantile, so he may be saying what his supporters want to hear.
Bush did okay but his body language doesn’t work. He appears defensive and unsure of himself.
Paul, as usual, came across as the scowling adult in the room, bringing up solutions that required hard choices. I don't think the Republican voters want to elect an adult this time around.