Winners and Losers: The First GOP Presidential Debate


With the first primetime GOP Presidential debate now in the books, here’s a quick analysis of how each candidate did. This applies to the primetime debate only, with the top ten candidates. We want your feedback as well, so feel free to comment below.

WINNERS (in alphabetical order)

Jeb Bush: Bush had a lot to lose if he stumbled, but he did a good job at looking Presidential, and faced personal criticisms head-on. He personally surprised me by addressing recent accusations that he was soft on Planned Parenthood. He said all of the right things, and made a solid case for being a true conservative candidate.

Chris Christie: Christie might have yelled himself back into relevancy. His exchange with Rand Paul was forceful, without being out of control.

Mike Huckabee: Huckabee had a very good debate, but he needed a knock-out punch somewhere to capture the conservative base again. He didn’t get that, but he did enough to get some momentum. His final statement was great.

Marco Rubio: Rubio has been pretty quiet as of late, but his performance tonight reminded us why he deserves to be a front-runner. He was articulate and informed, and connected with the audience.

Scott Walker: He didn’t hurt himself, and he made a little headway in proving himself capable of being a top-tier candidate. He was personable and had a good grip on the issues.

LOSERS (in alphabetical order)

Ben Carson: While he said all of the right things, Carson showed little charisma and looked meek beside the larger personalities. He’s a bit too laid back. He had a nice closing statement, though.

Ted Cruz: Cruz has a loyal following, but he needed to reach out to a larger group of Republicans. He seemed to have his screen time limited, and it hurt him. He failed to connect on a personal level, which is odd, because Cruz has proven to be quite engaging.

John Kasich: Gov. Kasich received a nice response from the crowd, but didn’t do enough to set himself apart. He may have guaranteed himself a seat at the table for a bit longer, but he needs to do more.

Rand Paul: Paul needed to make a splash, but didn’t deliver. His out-of-nowhere attack on Chris Christie made little sense and seemed petty, and worse yet, failed to win the argument. He often failed to define himself as an authority on issues he addressed. Donald Trump hit the nail on the head when he told him “You’re having a hard time tonight.”

Donald Trump: Trump had the most to lose, and he lost a lot. He faltered right out of the gate, turning the crowd against him by refusing to commit to support the Republican nominee or run a third party campaign. He also came across as angry and pompous, something echoed by the focus group Fox News featured after the debate.

About Victor Medina

Victor Medina is a freelance writer based in Dallas. He is the editor of, and his other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News, Yahoo News, and He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. He is a member of the leadership team of the Cafe con Leche Republicans. You can follow him on his blog, or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at