SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Republican voters fed up with Washington and anyone with a background in politics have cheered billionaire businessman Donald Trump as the ultimate 2016 outsider, making him the front-runner for the GOP nomination.

But Trump’s lack of experience with public policy was exposed throughout the second GOP presidential debate on Wednesday, a three-hour marathon that delved deep into complicated issues at home and abroad.

It was a night that allowed others to shine, however briefly, as they showed off their command of issues and talked with precision about what they’d do if elected president.

After dominating the first debate a month ago, Trump faced fierce criticism from his Republican rivals from the outset of the debate at the Reagan Presidential Library outside Los Angeles. He disappeared for long stretches and even acknowledged at one point that he has a lot yet to learn about global affairs.

The former reality television star avoided any major gaffes, yet delivered an underwhelming performance by the conventional standards of presidential politics. “He had his tail between his legs tonight,” said Republican strategist Kevin Madden.

It may be some time before anyone knows if that will have any effect on Trump’s place in the field – his supporters have so far embraced his decidedly unconventional approach to presidential politics.

Another outsider, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, may have helped herself the most Wednesday night. Seizing her debut moment on the main debate stage, she attacked Trump as “an entertainer,” offered a passionate case against Planned Parenthood and spoke in specifics when talking about foreign affairs.

She delivered one of the debate’s most memorable moments when responding to a derogatory comment Trump made in a recent interview about her looks. Fiorina said simply, “I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” winning the first ovation of the night from the live audience.

Trump responded, “I think she’s got a beautiful face, and I think she’s a beautiful woman” – a line that won few cheers, if any at all.

The third Republican outsider, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, maintained a positive outlook throughout the night in keeping with his image as the GOP’s most likable candidate.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: