Nikki Haley has been in the race for longer than anyone else on the stage but hasn’t had a breakout moment yet. She was clearly aiming to change that tonight, and she did have one of the most memorable back-and-forths of the night when she took Ramaswamy to task over his lack of foreign policy experience. She came out swinging early not just against Biden but against Republicans in Congress, and she was one of just a handful of contenders to make an electability argument against Trump by pointing out his low favorability ratings. But for a candidate who is polling at 3.4 percent nationwide, it’s not obvious that was enough.
Burgum’s presence was a victory in and of itself for the governor, given his injury today. But he got scant talking time, and his most interesting answer, when he came out definitively against a national abortion ban, isn’t likely to earn him many new fans in the GOP.
But here’s what I really think. The next debate is not for another month, but tomorrow, Donald Trump will surrender to the authorities in Atlanta. His mugshot will ricochet across the internet and land on the front page of every major newspaper in the country. At that point, will people be talking about tonight’s debate? Or will they be back to talking about Trump? I’d put my money on the latter, and that’s not good news for anyone on stage tonight.
–Analysis by Jacob Rubashkin, Inside Elections