There was a clear winner inTuesday night's Fox Business Network debate, according to a Fox News focus group conducted by veteran GOP pollster Frank Luntz.
A majority of participants declared that Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida emerged the victor, and a several of them said they changed their support from other Republican presidential candidates, including Ben Carson and Jeb Bush, to Rubio.
Asked to describe Rubio in a word or phrase, the people in the focus group said things like "eloquent," "passionate," "young," "very articulate," "slick," "inspirational," and "fresh."
There was one moment in particular, according to Luntz, in which the participants' focus-group dials shot upward to indicate their approval: when Rubio delivered a powerful endorsement of vocational schools.
"For the life of me, I don't know why we have stigmatized vocational education. Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers. And if we do this, we will be able to increase wages for millions of Americans," Rubio said to loud applause.Linda Feldmann writes at The Christian Science Monitor:
“There is no question that [Marco] Rubio is the Republican that Democrats fear most.”
Those words, written by former top Obama political aide Dan Pfeiffer before Tuesday night’s Republican debate, are truer than ever after the debate.
Here’s the moment that crystallized the point: Senator Rubio was presented with Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton’s credentials – an “impressive résumé,” said Fox Business moderator Maria Bartiromo – and then asked how he can compete. Rubio didn't miss a beat.
“This next election is actually a generational choice – a choice about what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century," Rubio said.