GOP Debate: Winners, Losers, Survivors

CNN hosted the second Republican presidential debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. Standing on the stage in front of Air Force One were the top candidates led by businessman Donald Trump, businesswoman Carly Fiorina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, world-renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all survived a three hour debate that left both the candidates and the viewers at home spent.

The second Republican debate, a three-hour affair that veered from sophomoric insults to policy to late-night silliness, ended after 11 p.m. The debate felt at times more like a WWE presentation with all the candidates ganging up on the front runner Donald Trump.

Point Grabbers


Carly Fiorina – A last-minuted addition, Fiorina clearly proved she belonged on stage with top-tier candidates. Fiorina demonstrated strength on a number of points with her big moment coming when she talked about losing a child to drug addiction and her opposition to Planned Parenthood.

Marco Rubio – For the most part he stayed away from taking shots at Trump and was masterful at his knowledge of foreign affairs and his passion on the issue of illegal immigrants.

John Kasich – His professional political experience provided an impression of being the adult in the room sticking as Kasich stuck to the issues. His message remained both positive as well as on point. His down- to-earth, blue collar style and refusing to attack others on the stage proved a winning combination for him.

Jeb Bush – Displayed new-found energy and an ability to frame his arguments. He did spend a great deal of time battling Trump and defending the family name but overall got his key points showing a sense of humor and spunk.

Donald Trump – Obviously the main target on stage, Trump remained on message and did not create any post-debate controversies. He did have a few moments that were less than impressive – like his answer on how he would deal with the Russians in Syria, but overall his followers will no doubt love him more for being attacked.


Scott Walker – While he performed better than the first debate, which would not be a hard bar to clear, he simply was both unimpressive and lacked the ability to connect with the audience. Walker did not rise to the occasion and once again failed to impress anyone with his message.

Rand Paul – He just seemed out of place as he picked fights with Trump and fought with Bush of the Iraq War. He had enough airtime to make his points but they rang hollow and seemed be out of step with the rest of the people on stage.

Mike Huckabee – He preached to Christian Conservatives all night long. He brought up states’ rights issues but he brought little else to the table. If you liked him in 2012 then you will like again in 2016 because nothing changed.




Dr. Ben Carson – He did enough to maintain momentum as the No. 2 candidate in polls. Carson supplied good points on both illegal immigration as well as immunization. Carson was clear but was not in the conversation on some of the international issues.

Ted Cruz – He was passionate on Planned Parenthood, immigration, and the Iran Nuke deal. However, the passion was a bit too over the top. He also pushed Bush on both his father and his brother’s choices for the Supreme Court stating they were not conservative enough.

Chris Christie – He was better in this debate and his use of focusing on the voter was a clever tactic but again he found himself on the defensive too often. When he did speak on policy he pulled out the 9/11 card which he often uses and over plays. He did enough this time around to keep things moving but he still lives in the shadow of Trump.

Jim Williams is the Washington Bureau Chief, Digital Director as well as the Director of Special Projects for Genesis Communications. He is starting his third year as part of the team. This is Williams 40th year in the media business, and in that time he has served in a number of capacities. He is a seven time Emmy Award winning television producer, director, writer and executive. He has developed four regional sports networks, directed over 2,000 live sporting events including basketball, football, baseball hockey, soccer and even polo to name a few sports. Major events include three Olympic Games, two World Cups, two World Series, six NBA Playoffs, four Stanley Cup Playoffs, four NCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournaments (March Madness), two Super Bowl and over a dozen college bowl games. On the entertainment side Williams was involved s and directed over 500 concerts for Showtime, Pay Per View and MTV Networks.