Donald Trump: Angry, sexist, narcissistic blowhard. “The Donald” claims he’ll be tough with the Chinese, the Russians, ISIS, Iran, and Mexico, but the perpetually scowling billionaire nearly cried when Megyn Kelly and Bret Bair asked what he thought were “unfair” questions. His wave probably has crested.
Rand Paul: A bright guy desperate to make an impact and move up in the polls, he came out swinging and got worse than he gave. A bit of an odd duck. I see the Senate and, eventually, a think tank, not the Oval Office, in his future.
Jeb Bush: Lackluster. If you didn’t know he was the best funded candidate with the highest name recognition, and simply evaluated him based on what you saw, would you really put your money on him?
Chris Christie: A solid performance, but his wave has crested, too. Where were you four years ago, Chris?
Scott Walker: Workmanlike, competent, dull. Perhaps this is what he wanted to project, but I came away disappointed, thinking he doesn’t have what it takes to beat Hillary. He failed to defuse a question about abortion that may yet come back to haunt him.
Marco Rubio: Whatever “it” is, he has “it.” A star.
John Kasich: Boy, has he aged since his days in Congress. An unreliable conservative, but he might be a great VP pick to lock up Ohio.
Mike Huckabee: Another old, jowly white guy with no chance. Spoke smoothly and passionately, but he also delivered the biggest gaffe (about taxing prostitutes and drug dealers–ill-advised when you’re a Baptist pastor).
Ben Carson: Shaky and nervous throughout, except at the end, when he stole the show talking about his background. He’ll make a great HHS secretary, surgeon general, or ambassador of racial healing.
Ted Cruz: Smooth, strong on the issues, intelligent, principled. Didn’t get many opportunities to shine, but he stands to gain when Trump falters. Wish I could soften his features somehow.
And from the under card …
Carly Fiorina: From the highlights I saw, she was poised, quick, and strong on the issues. Hillary might not want to face her in a debate. A great VP possibility. I wonder if she can defend her tenure at HP, where she eventually was fired. Deserves a seat at the “big boy table.”