The Florida Senator was good in the first two debates. He was outstanding in this one. The long-awaited showdown between Rubio and Bush wound up being a romp; Jeb tried to attack on Rubio's Senate attendance but got schooled by a very well-prepared Rubio. Rubio repeatedly took tough questions and turned them to his advantage, finding ways to tell his compelling personal story and steer the conversation toward what the GOP needs to do to beat Hillary Clinton. Rubio, as I've long noted, is the most naturally talented candidate in either party's field; he showed it tonight.Andre Tartar writes at Bloomberg:
Rubio received nine direct questions or rebuttal invitations to Bush's six, and spoke for more than 10 minutes while Bush squeaked out less than seven minutes of air time. The audience engagement gap proved even wider. Rubio landed at least nine applause and laugh lines throughout the two-hour debate, compared to just one recorded laugh for Bush, according to an analysis of a Federal News Service rush transcript conducted by Bloomberg Politics in partnership with Adam Tiouririne (@Tiouririne) of Logos Consulting Group. He advises senior business executives on high-stakes communication, grounded in research about how leaders perform at their most important—and most public—moments.Michael Barone points out that the hostile questions were actually good for the field:
The Republican debaters got great mileage out of bashing the moderators, and justifiably so. But I think their call for more sympathetic moderators is unwise. The unsympathetic moderators not only produced a debate which benefited the Republicans with their constituency, but also elicited from them some major themes which work for their party and against the Democrats — notably the arguments against crony capitalism and the argument, made most cogently by Carly Fiorina but echoed by others, that big government policies favor the wealthy and the well-connected and leave ordinary people and the poor worse off. Hostile moderators gave the candidates a chance to make strong arguments which could work for the eventual nominee.Greg Sargent gets the Rubio formula:
Last night, Rubio, in what appeared to be an appeal to the deep resentment of many of these voters, skillfully converted legitimate questions about his personal financial management into evidence of Democratic and elite media contempt for his relatively humble upbringing, which he proceeded to explain he had overcome through hard work. Rubio’s narrative is both laden with legitimate resentment and inspiring!