For the first GOP presidential nomination debate, I tweeted my assessment of the candidates’ performance from strongest to weakest. I came to this conclusion by judging which candidates best helped themselves. Because each candidate faces different challenges, what each must do to raise his profile varies. My assessment of the best performers and my rationale follows:
8th Place: Donald Trump
Real estate mogul, Donald Trump, enjoyed a very low bar going into the first debate. For this reason, he could have won the debate handily by simply playing the statesman: foregoing bombastic attacks and non sequitur responses, offering thoughtful policy ideas and proving himself worthy of his supporters.
Instead, Trump was Trump: refusing to pledge allegiance to the party’s eventual nominee, attacking Megyn Kelly, boasting about benefiting from illegal political action, and failing to provide any specifics about his wild conspiracy theories regarding the Mexican government.
Spending any more time deconstructing his performance is a waste of time. Mr. Trump lacks sincerity and seriousness, and deserves neither support nor fleeting consideration. Whatever supporters Trump keeps after this debate are either detached from reality or openly hostile to conservatism and the Republican Party.