First thoughts on the CNBC vs. Republicans debate


John Quincy Adams expected that Cuba would one day be part of the United States. His prognostication was, sort of, vindicated in CNBC's Republican presidential debate tonight. The clear stars were both of Cuban descent, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Both struck hard against the Democrats — and, even more, at the CNBC debate moderators John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick, the latter of whom did not even bother to conceal their contempt for the candidates as they cut them off at the end of their allotted time.

The biggest moment of the night, in my view, came when Rubio responded to a predictable question about his spotty Senate voting record and the [Fort Lauderdale] Sun Sentinel editorial calling on him to resign from the Senate. Rubio was clearly prepared, with facts, showing the paper's bias and that of the moderators. He clearly won his set-to with his former Florida political ally and perhaps mentor, Jeb Bush. Cruz was similarly sharp, later in the debate, when he compared the questions and the responses in this debate with those in the CNN Democratic debate Oct. 13.

Viewers may have wondered why Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading in polls. Both came up with some good answers and avoided mistakes. John Kasich's initial response, attacking them, didn't work, in my view, but some of his later comments were attractive. Jeb Bush did better on other issues than in his joust with Rubio, but didn't show the sense of command that Rubio, Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie showed. Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul seemed to realize that they were not really in contention; rather they made interesting points about curing disease and reining in the Federal Reserve.