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Fiorina Wins Second GOP Debate, Trump Still Dominates


Carly-Fiorina.jpgThe biggest winner in Wednesday night's second Republican Party nominee debate wasn't front-runner Donald Trump or his sharpest back-talker, Carly Fiorina. It was CNN, the sponsor of the event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA.
 
The Wall Street Journal estimated the network asked for and received $150,000 for a 30-second commercial during the two-hour debate. That amount is at least twice the tariff paid by advertisers for the last Superbowl show. CNN confirmed earlier this week online it had increased its fee by at least twice the regular amount.
 
CNN hadn't estimated the debate's viewership at press time but a person from CNN who told the media she didn't want to be named, said the figure could be close to 65 million or more. That would mark an all-time present-day record for television and online viewing audiences. Fox News said 25.1 million viewers watched its sponsored first GOP debate in Cleveland, OH on Aug. 6.
 
But back to Wednesday night's debate.
 
Despite still registering in the single digits in national polls, Fiorina emerged as the most intense Trump opponent. She interrupted several colleagues at will to voice her views on a mix of subjects, trying to unnerve Trump at the same time.
 
She didn't make a dent in the Trump persona but she at least made herself visible to the massive viewing world audience.
 
Fiorina accused Trump of running up mountains of debt on four of his Atlantic City, NJ casinos, arguing he was in no position to understand prudent economics and lead the U.S. into a new era.
 
Trump lashed back, denying he was ever bankrupt. The New York real estate developer has previously told campaign crowds his gross income was $8.5 billion and his annual take-home pay is $4 million.
 
Quoting a Yale University Business School source, Trump said Fiorina was "one of the worst CEOs in American history" when she previously worked at Hewlett- Packard.
 
Fiorina called Trump "a wonderful entertainer" but said the 2016 campaign would reveal "the judgment and temperament of every single one of us."
 
To which Trump replied, "My temperament is very good. Very calm." If elected, Trump said the U.S. "will be respected" around the world, not in the often negative manner in which it is currently viewed.
 
CNN moderator Jake Tapper, one of Washington's more experienced broadcasters, tried to needle the nominees into commenting on some of Trump's previously stated positions, especially nuclear warfare.
 
Tapper asked would they be concerned if a person like Trump was holding the red phone in the Oval Office that signified a Yes or No on pushing the nation into a war.
 
Fiorina didn't bite. "That's not for me to answer," she stated tactfully. "That's for the voters of this nation to answer."
 
She also scored points by throwing back Trump's statement last week on her facial appearance. Fiorina
 
In a Rolling Stone magazine interview, Trump said of Fiorina, "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?"
 
Fiorina said, "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said."
 
Trump, for once, was stumped. He didn't hit back. Instead, he graciously said, "I think she's got a beautiful face and I think she's a beautiful woman."
 
Fiorina may have been one of the more vocal nominees sniping at Trump, but she wasn't the only one by far.
 
Jeb Bush, like Fiorina trailing in the polls, criticized Trump for his support for President Bill Clinton during his time in the White House from 1993 to 2001.
 
Trump didn't address that charge but then turned on Bush and blamed Bush's brother, President George W. Bush, for helping President Barack Obama get elected.
 
Snapped Bush:  "There's one thing about my brother. He kept us safe."
 
The crowd cheered over that zinger.
 
Although there were 11 nominees on stage, the sharpest moments in the debate really centered on Trump, Fiorina and Ben Carson. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich also got in some good licks, at each other and the rest of the crew.
 
The new polls next week will, of course, show revised numbers for several of the 15 candidates still in the GOP nomination race, but the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll released Sept. 14, two days before the debate showed:
 
Trump 33%; Carson 20%; Bush 8%; Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio 7%; Rand Paul 5%; John Kasich and Mike Huckabee 3%; Carly Fiorina and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker 2%; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum 1%; South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and West Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, 0%.
 
I'm confident Fiorina, Paul, Christie, Walker, Bush and Graham will boost their ratings after a robust performance in both the first and second tiers of Wednesday's debate.
 
The third Republic Party debate is set for Wednesday, Oct. 28th at the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO.  CNBC is the sponsor.
 
And that's the way it is at this moment.

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