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Ten hopefuls clashed in Cleveland Thursday night in the first Republican presidential debate. But how’d they do? The cable news pundits weighed in immediately after the debate, which aired on Fox News Channel.
Here’s what they are saying.
On Fox News, Brit Hume singled out an exchange between Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over civil liberties. Christie mocked Paul’s notion as naive that the U.S. could somehow only seek information about terrorists but not normal citizens along the way.
“Christy really went after Rand Paul. I think he may have damaged Rand Paul. The problem is, if you do that, you don’t always look good doing that. You may not be the beneficiary,” said Hume.
Hume also singled out a moment in which Donald Trump got booed for refusing to take a pledge not to run as an independent should he not get the Republican nomination.
“That’s not good,” said Hume. “People like the fact that he doesn’t take any guff. That he’s tough … but there’s a point at which he looks peevish and petty.”
Hume thought former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush “helped himself” with the debate, and praised his performance on education. He said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker “did fine.”
On MSNBC, former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele said the battle over civil liberties was something you will see “play out over and over,” with different wings of the party clashing.
“Christie’s perspective is ‘I need a target,’ and he targeted Rand Paul,” said Steele.
Chris Matthews said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio performed well, and was smart to say his youth would be an asset because he represented the future.
“Put him next to Hillary Clinton, and he has a zest,” said Matthews.
He said Clinton would have no trouble with Trump, who has said questionable things about women. But he predicted Rubio would present a challenge for her, should they face off in the general election.
Steele praised Rubio as consistently expressing his vision for tomorrow and millennials’ role in it.
CNN commentators varied in their opinions on who won the evening.
Political commentator Ana Navaro, who attended the debate and said, “I feel dirty having been inside there,” believes Cruz, Carson and Paul each had a disappointing night: “I think Rand Paul was a big loser.”
S.E. Cupp also agreed that Carson didn’t do well, stating that she “didn’t expect Ben Carson to come with much substance,” but added Paul took the trophy for most “terrible night.” She gave Bush and Walker winning praises.
Donna Brazile wished Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus “good luck with Donald Trump” after his comment about possibly running as an independent. “There is no question that some of the candidates will fade after tonight,” she continued.
Going into the debate, Trump led in the polls, outpacing Bush by 10 points and Walker by 12 points. The rest of the candidates polled in the single digits.
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