Read this piece from Howard Kurtz about that vicious, out of control CBS Republican debate from South Carolina on Saturday night.
As he pointed out, the general consensus from the media was that Donald Trump had a poor performance — he got piled on by Jeb Bush, he was booed by the audience, he attacked and insulted fellow Republicans, and his act was not received well. But then Kurtz referred to a headline from a Rich Lowry piece in National Review that said “Trump Was Half-Crazed — but Does Anyone Care?”
And that is the $64,000 question, folks, do people at home in South Carolina really care? Trump was really aiming his debate remarks not at the people in the hall who were booing him, but the masses watching on TV who probably agree with him! By that standard, Trump seemed to hold his own, because he hit really hard — especially when he was trashing Ted Cruz and calling him a liar and so on.
As for the audience booing him — well, so what? It looks like there is a big controversy brewing about whether or not the hall was stacked in favour of Trump’s establishment opponents.
In general, though, Trump was out of control. But it really does seem as if the crazier Trump is, the better his poll numbers seem to get.
Anyway, we shall see in the final South Carolina results on Feb. 20 what the impact is from this most recent, vicious, all-out war of a debate, one which I described on Twitter as “utter mayhem”. This CBS debate was more vicious than the last one for ABC News just prior to New Hampshire. The reason for the tense atmosphere: several candidates could be on their last legs. If you recall, the New Hampshire debate also had people really going after each other. Chris Christie really hammered Marco Rubio in that debate and the reason was obvious — Christie was fighting for his life (and, in fact, his campaign did go belly-up with the New Hampshire results). On Saturday, Rubio had a much better night, and you finally saw Jeb Bush putting up a fight, and it is all because Bush is fighting for his own survival against the other individuals who are trying to emerge as the alternative to Trump.
That, in a nutshell, was why this CBS debate was the most vicious yet. The stakes were high, because if something doesn’t happen very soon to stop Trump, all these rival campaigns could be doomed. And they know it.