Thursday’s much-anticipated inaugural GOP presidential debate in Cleveland produced four storylines that will impact the process between now and when the first votes are cast in my home-state of Iowa next February.
1. Jeb is dead.
There are three sub-primaries happening simultaneously within the Republican Party. The first is the race to be the champion of the establishment. I’ve said for months Jeb Bush was dead. This debate confirmed the coroner’s report. When his best answer was defending his support for the loathsome Common Core that tells you all you need to know. Then to say in a GOP primary “it doesn’t matter” that he directed a charity that awarded millions to Planned Parenthood amounts to self-immolation. His rambling and bumbling closing statement was symptomatic of the realization he knows his goose is cooked.
2. Rand Paul is on life support.
He posted disappointed fundraising numbers, his base is demoralized, and then his top political operative was indicted for a pay-for-endorsement scandal by the Feds. So the last thing Paul needed was a further beat down in the debate, but that’s just what happened.