The debate post-mortems have a clear theme Friday morning: Marco Rubio is the consensus winner after his relentless attacks on Donald Trump, with the big question being whether it's too late to stop the frontrunner's momentum. Some highlights:
- "This was not only Rubio's best debate performance. It was the best debate performance by any candidate in any debate so far in the 2016 election." So declares Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post; he thinks it's now a two-man race between Rubio and Trump.
- Ted Cruz also scored points for his Trump assaults, and Todd Graham at CNN gives him an A. "His answers on immigration were his best in any debate, talking about faith, family, and patriotism. Both he and Rubio forgot their squabbles and focused on Trump. All great strategic moves."
- "For those fearful of Trump as the party’s nominee, Thursday was supposed to be the night that the dynamic of the race began to change," writes Dan Balz at the Washington Post. "Certainly Rubio and Cruz tried to make that happen, with some success. But Tuesday’s balloting will be the real first test of whether things actually are changing."
- Trump generally is getting bad to mediocre reviews—the New York Times says the attacks on him resulted in a "less nimble performance"—but David A. Graham of the Atlantic thinks it was his "worst debate of the campaign." Of course, "one rule of thumb so far has been that no matter how Trump performs during these debates, it doesn’t seem to hurt him."
- One succinct wrap-up comes from Mary Kissel of the Wall Street Journal via Twitter: “Blitzer loses. Cruz-Rubio tag team against Trump effective, but too late? Trump took big hits. Kasich blah. Goodbye, Ben.”
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