Why Trump Should Be Worried After Debate

Pundits think his dominance of the campaign is poised to fade
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2015 8:42 AM CDT
Donald Trump during the CNN debate.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(Newser) – As the political analysts assess the winners and losers of last night's CNN debate, one theme seems to be emerging, maybe best summed up in a headline at Politico that asks, "Is the summer of Trump over?" It may not necessarily translate into an immediate drop in the polls, but pundits think the debate proved that Trump's opponents are no longer afraid to expose his weaknesses. Some examples:

  • He lost: "On substance and style, he was the loser of Wednesday night's debate," writes Jonathan Allen at Vox. "It wasn't even close." Marco Rubio, for instance, "schooled him on foreign policy," Jeb Bush went after his "dangerous" inexperience, and Carly Fiorina scored big points of her own. Trump was simply ill-prepared to answer serious policy questions. "After months of knocking away his rivals like fleas on a lion, Trump looked vulnerable."

  • Fading dominance? "Enter a new stage of the Republican nominating contest, where if Trump's lead in the polls doesn't immediately break down, his vice-grip on the narrative does," writes Politico's Ben Schreckinger. The story quotes a GOP consultant who says, "His shallowness on the issues is finally starting to be exposed."
  • Less of a presence: "(W)hen the discussion shifted from what Trump has said about the others to issues of domestic and foreign policy, the candidate who has dominated the summer and leads the polls was far less a force," writes Dan Balz at the Washington Post. The other candidates take him seriously now, and he "was put on the defensive as much as he tried to stay on the offensive."
  • But don't write him off: After his feisty start, Trump "faded to the sidelines as his rivals debated in detail issues like Syria and how to deal with Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, subjects that Mr. Trump appeared to struggle with when the questions came to him," agrees Adam Nagourney at the New York Times. But he notes that Republicans have been wrongly predicting Trump's demise for three months now. As the campaign intensifies, "the question is whether those hopes will be realized, or whether Mr. Trump will manage to outsmart his detractors yet again."
Click for the best social media reactions to Trump and the rest of the crew last night. (Read more Donald Trump 2016 stories.)

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