What We Learned From Thursday’s GOP Debate


Rubio said he would not nominate a Supreme Court justice during his final year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The stakes were high for Rubio. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The GOP stage is a lot less crowded now, and the tone was a lot calmer than the candidates’ previous meeting. It’s down to four candidates in the Republican presidential primary race, and time is running out for those party leaders who want to stop front-runner Donald Trump. (He managed to mention that former candidate Ben Carson is poised to endorse him.)

At Thursday’s CNN debate in Miami, the week before the important Florida primary, as well as other winner-take-all contests that will determine delegate count, Sen. Marco Rubio was under pressure to make his case in his home state.

Did the debate shift the fortunes of Rubio, Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich in any way?

Stump speeches: “Donald Trump went into victory formation mode during this debate and his opponents didn’t try and break it up as aggressively as they have in more recent debates.

“This was a much more civil occasion, with the candidates content to stick to their stump speeches, save for an occasional policy contrast.  It’s hard to see how a debate like this really changes the trajectory of the race in any of the winner-take-all contests that are coming up.”

— Kevin Madden, former national press secretary for the Mitt Romney campaign 

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