Here's the headline: The CNBC moderators tried to bait the candidates.
It was obvious.
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC ANCHOR (to Trump): “Let's be honest. (LAUGHTER) Is this a comic book version of a presidential campaign?”
REBECCA QUICK, CNBC ANCHOR (to Rubio): “Just last year, you liquidated a $68,000 retirement fund. That's something that cost you thousands of dollars in taxes and penalties. In terms of all of that, it raises the question whether you have the maturity and wisdom to lead this $17 trillion economy. What do you say?”
CARL QUINTANILLA, CNBC ANCHOR (to Carson): “Last year, a marketing study called the warehouse retailer the number one gay-friendly brand in America, partly because of its domestic partner benefits. Why would you serve on a company whose policies seem to run counter to your views on homosexuality?”
Now you can get away with that kind of stuff once in a while, but not if you make it the dominant theme.
As for the candidates, nobody screwed up.
Donald Trump was largely silent.
Ben Carson was his usual polite self, sticking to his traditional point of view.
Marco Rubio was fiery and glib.
He was hammered by a liberal newspaper in his state for missing votes in the Senate.
Here's how he handled that:
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): “In 2004 John Kerry ran for president, missing 60% to 70% of his votes. I don’t recall the Sun-Sentinel calling for his resignation. In fact the Sun-Sentinel endorsed him. In 2008 Barack Obama missed 60 or 70 percent of his votes. And the same newspaper endorsed him, again. So this is another example of the double standard that exists between the mainstream media and the conservative movement.”
Good for Rubio.
Jeb Bush was a policy wonk, as was John Kasich.
Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul were populists.
Carly Fiorina handled herself well and actually made fun of herself:
CARLY FIORINA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: “Well gee, after the last debate I was told I didn’t smile enough…(smiles) (crowd cheers/applause).”
Finally, Ted Cruz was the most conservative of the crew, his usual position.
The most surprising development was the lack of air time for Trump.
Tomorrow on the Factor we will ask him about that.
And that's “The Memo”.
Bill O'Reilly currently serves as the host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The O'Reilly Factor (weekdays 8PM/ET), the most watched cable news show for the past 13 years. He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York. Click here for more information on Bill O'Reilly.