Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Did Donald Trump’s Presidential Luck Just Run Out?

Did Donald Trump’s Presidential Luck Just Run Out?

Donald Trump was finally put in his place. Led by Carly Fiorina, who hit back with a pithy retort referring to his putdown of her looks that drew applause from the Reagan Library audience, the “other ten” slowly but surely put Trump on the defensive. When Trump attacked Fiorina’s record at Hewlett-Packard, she pointed to his four bankruptcies. And when Trump bloviated about how he made a fortune in Atlantic City, Chris Christie, in whose state the town is located, argued that it was time to get serious about issues and not behave like junior high schoolers.

Trump aimed his first potshot at Rand Paul. But the Kentucky Senator came across as thoughtful, even if his America First policies did not capture the hearts of any but his previous true believers. Jeb Bush put up with Trump’s barbs for a while, until the New Yorker attacked his brother for not protecting Americans. That was too much even for the gentleman that Bush is, and he snapped back that America had not been attacked since 9/11. The retort left Trump speechless, as did the candidates’ efforts to discuss foreign and national security policy seriously.

A snap Drudge poll shows that Trump won the debate by a landslide. It is, of course, not clear who actually voted in the poll, which is akin to voting for baseball all-stars (fans are encouraged to stuff the ballot boxes for their hometown stars). CNN, not generally known as a supporter of conservative causes, did its utmost to focus on Trump—after all, he is the Democrats’ favorite candidate because he is the one who would be the most likely to get clobbered in the general election. It was therefore hardly a surprise that Jake Tepper, the debate moderator, gave Trump the most time on air, allowed him to interrupt the others while frequently cutting off those who tried to respond to him, and constantly posed questions that centered around one or another of Trump’s incendiary campaign statements.

But Trump did not win the debate at all. He was constantly red-faced, and was forced to recant on some of his ad hominem attacks and to modify others. At the same time, Bush strongly defended his position on immigration and credibly argued for a tougher national-security posture; Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz articulated a detailed case for a robust national-security policy; Fiorina threw out numbers of Marine battalions, Army divisions, Navy ships and Air Force planes. And from Trump? Nothing. He avoided articulating numbers, whether in relation to defense or anything else. He was noticeably silent about the cost of the immigration proposals which launched his campaign. His inability to deal with details of any kind, on any issue, hardly bespoke his self-proclaimed negotiating prowess and business acumen.

All candidates inject the personal into their speeches. Christie talked about his wife working near the World Trade Center on 9/11; Fiorina talked about the child she lost to drugs. But Trump sank to a new level of nastiness when he attacked Columba Bush because she was a Mexican-American. Bush took the high road in defending her admirably, making Trump look not only like a bully, but a bully of the meanest kind.

When the moderators turned the debate into reality tv, Trump was…

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