GOP Pundits Pick Rubio As Debate Winner

In a wide-ranging Tuesday night debate in Milwaukee, the top-tier Republicans squared off for a fourth time. The Hill asked seven conservative pundits for their views on the showdown. Here are their thoughts:

Ford O'Connell

Winner: Rubio

Why: While I don't think this debate changed much in terms of the overall horse race, Rubio was without question the most substantive while also looking presidential. I suspect this will help Rubio gain greater "insider" traction. Cruz was the runner-up, and Fiorina also had a solid night. Carson might have put the biographical questions to rest, but he raised a bunch of questions about his domestic and foreign policy acumen. Trump and Bush didn't help their causes, but in Trump's case, I am not sure it matters. Paul was an effective martyr at times, but this is just not his cycle. Kasich is literally five minutes from no longer being on the main stage. (Paging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to the main stage.)

O'Connell is the chairman of CivicForumPAC, worked on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and is author of the book "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery."

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