Ranking the CNN Republican Presidential Debate (Updated)

I am a pastor, not a politician. I do not put my trust in princes or presidents, but in the sovereign reign of the King of Kings and Savior of sinners, Jesus. However, we live in a country in which ordinary folks get to participate in the political process by electing men and women to represent us in the arena of state leadership. This is a gift and a blessing, which is why I watched last night’s Republican debate on CNN. Based on my non-professional evaluation, here is how I rank the candidates—not based on my preference (I’m not endorsing anyone here), but on their performance. I’m not asking anyone to agree. This is just my take on it.

  1. Carley Fiorina. Substantive. Knowledgeable. Passionate. Principled. Clear plan both domestically and internationally. Obviously, the most skilled, true debater on the stage.
  2. Ted Cruz. Articulate. Unflustered. Strong commitment to the US Constitution.
  3. Scott Walker. When he had the opportunity to speak, he was calm and substantive. Very likable.
  4. Marco Rubio. Marco is very articulate and a true Reagan conservative, but may come across as too young (his boyish smile, and boyish look of frustration at times) to lead our country or to face seasoned leaders of other nations. Nonetheless, I think that if elected, he will grow up very quickly.
  5. Mike Huckabee. Well spoken. Knows the issues.
  6. Ben Carson. Although I appreciate his humility, he may be too soft spoken for this level of executive leadership. Doesn’t seem super confident in himself as a leader or in his ideas.  But he has really good ideas and was able to reveal some of them.
  7. Chris Christie. Intentionally appealing to the middle class. May have tried too hard. But he was more likable in this debate than the first. His clash with Rand Paul in the first debate was ugly. I think he realizes that. Wasn’t expecting him to be so strong on life issues.
  8. Rand Paul. The camera angle did not help Rand Paul, nor does his appearance of frustration and getting flustered/angry. Next to Cruz, he may be the best on the Constitution and seems to have well thought out ideas. He just didn’t seem like a statesman on the stage last night.
  9. John Kasich. Like Christie, he seems to appeal to the regular guy. Experienced, but not slick. Stayed out of the sparring with Trump for the most part. He felt kind of luke-warm.
  10. Donald Trump. His strength may also be his greatest weakness. And last night revealed to America that Trump is not only the least articulate of the candidates on the issues, but also is willing to lie to the nation without hesitation (ex: denying his attempt to put casinos in Florida and even donating to Gov. Bush to make it happen).  Now, Trump wouldn’t be the fist president to lie to the American people. But at least we know he would be going into office as utterly untrustworthy.
  11. Jeb Bush. Tried to promote his conservative record as Governor of Florida, but was made to look like a child standing beside Trump, who steamrolled Jeb at the mic, eventually giving Jeb permission to speak, saying, “OK, now you can go.” To me, that moment felt like the end of the Bush campaign. And then Jeb asked Trump to apologize to Jeb’s wife. Trump refused, again winning the arm-wrestling match with Bush. Now, if Trump had not been on stage, I think Jeb may have done very well—very possibly the top three. But Trump simply Trumped him, and bumped him was down to number eleven on this list.