Various opinion polls suggest that Donald Trump once again emerged as the winner of Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, but pundits seem to be saying something different, with opinions divided between the other three men on the stage: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich.
Indeed, in a couple of polls, including Joe Newby’s here at CFL, Kasich is running ahead of Rubio for the first time, and that might have something to do with the way he behaved.
The New York Times ran a piece Friday that says some analysts think nobody won, but that’s not quite accurate because the analysts weighing in did seem to have their picks.
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Kasich was getting higher marks for staying out of the fray that erupted pretty quickly between Trump, Rubio and Cruz. Still, Trump is leading the pack in popularity, though he’s taking some criticism for ducking out on the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. and heading for a campaign event in Kansas.
The candidates did not spend a lot of time on the Second Amendment last night, which is an important subject considering that likely Democrat nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton has made gun control a major plank in her campaign platform. If Clinton is elected, she could name possibly two or three new justices to the Supreme Court during her tenure, and critics are concerned that this could result in a reversal of the Heller and McDonald rulings that affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms.
That prospect is not lost on the public, it appears. Gun sales are continuing skyward, as Smith & Wesson revealed Thursday that its quarterly earnings are better than expected, jumping a reported 61 percent, according to Fox Business. Earlier in the week, it was revealed that the FBI National Instant Check System had reported the third highest number of background checks in its history.
All of this gun buying suggests the public is concerned about what a second Clinton presidency might bring, along with worries about crime and domestic terrorism.
For their part last night, Rubio and Cruz were both firm on the Second Amendment, and Trump did a complete about-face from a position he expressed several years ago on the banning of so-called “assault weapons.” He is now opposed to such a ban, one of many positions that he appears to have changed his mind about. He reiterated an earlier statement that if there had been armed citizens at the Paris or San Bernardino attacks, things might have gone dramatically different.
There are still several primaries on the horizon, and in states where many believe Cruz will do considerably better. Kasich and Rubio both predicted last night they will win in their home states of Ohio and Florida, respectively, but that remains to be seen.
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