Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may not have had the most memorable moments from Saturday night’s GOP debate in South Carolina, but that may be a good thing for his campaign.
As Donald Trump spent minute after minute personally attacking former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the entire Bush political dynasty, Cruz just sat back and enjoyed the show (as evidenced from the photo below).
But why would it be an advantage for the freshman senator to not be the center of attention in the debate? Well, let’s look at the numbers.
Fifteen minutes and 38 seconds is how long Donald Trump spoke during the GOP Debate, according to NPR. That was the most of any candidate during the nearly two hour long primetime debate. Cruz was second, with 14 minutes and 45 seconds, while Jeb Bush rounded out the top three at 11 minutes and 15 seconds. The key thing to note here is Trump spent a considerable amount of time going after Bush and being on defense against questions from CBS News Political Director John Dickerson regarding Trump’s profanity on the campaign trail, as well as his alleged support of an impeachment of former President George W. Bush. Being on defense and then attacking an individual that many had written off weeks and weeks ago due to sagging poll numbers and poor performance in debates and on the trail could do nothing more than damage your brand and send voters looking at the other candidates.
As a result of the Trump and Bush arguments, Cruz was able to distinguish himself from the bombastic frontrunner and the only other person he spent much time debating, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Rubio is a real threat to Cruz. Unlike Cruz and Trump, the establishment of the Republican Party is starting to get behind the first-term senator. His showing in Iowa was strong, even if his showing in New Hampshire was weak. Going into the southern states that vote in late February and March, Cruz has to cripple Rubio while letting Trump destroy himself. What weapon did Cruz use against Rubio?
That’s right. Ted Cruz went Spanish in the GOP debate, bringing up past statements he said Rubio had made to Univision and tried to take the campaign into another language, according to CNN.
“But there was a new element Saturday night: Cruz shouted at Rubio — in Spanish.
“Cruz had accused Rubio of saying on Univision in Spanish that he would not repeal President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration.
“Rubio retorted: ‘I don’t know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn’t speak Spanish.’
“That’s when Cruz looked at Rubio and uttered a few words in Spanish, challenging Rubio to continue in that language ‘if you want.’ “
Spanish is a language we have yet to see from Ted Cruz, though he seemed prepared to launch into an attack in Spanish so far unseen in a national debate, especially a GOP debate.
As for the other candidates, in spite of Trump’s attacks on Jeb Bush, he seems to be the other clear winner in this debate. Even though he was attacked time and again by Trump, the former Florida governor gave perhaps his strongest debate performance to date, and all of the air time Trump gave Bush may have the exact opposite impact Trump had hoped for. Trump leads in all the polls, but the race for second in South Carolina is going to be close between Cruz and Rubio, and Bush may keep that second-place race a three-way. After that, we’re looking at a race that is anybody’s game going into Super Tuesday on March 1.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]