The Tenth Republican Debate
By: Bill O'ReillyFebruary 26, 2016
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As usual there are analysts saying who won and lost the debate last night.

That's meaningless because it's really up to you the voter.

The real test will come on Super Tuesday, just four days away.

Right now Donald Trump has 82 delegates.

Ted Cruz, 17.

Marco Rubio, 16.

John Kasich, six.

Ben Carson, four.

1,237 delegates are needed for the nomination.

So you can see the race is not even close to being called.  However, there is one undeniable fact: Donald Trump is the clear favorite.

So last night his two main contenders went after him hard:

CRUZ: "For 40 years, you've been funding liberal Democratic politicians.  And by the way..."

TRUMP: "I funded you!  I funded him!  Can you believe it?"

(APPLAUSE)

CRUZ: "... the reason is -- you're welcome to have the check back."

TRUMP: "I funded this guy.  I gave him a check."

CRUZ: "Yeah, you gave me $5,000."

RUBIO: "You never funded me!"

CRUZ: "And -- and by the way, let's be clear. (APPLAUSE) Donald claims -- Donald claims to care about..."

TRUMP: "You know why?  I didn't want to, but he [Rubio] sent me his book with his autograph..."

(CROSSTALK)

CRUZ: "Donald.  Donald.  Donald.  I understand rules are very hard for you.  They're very confusing."

TRUMP: "Mr. Trump, you're doing a great job.  I have his book."

Now that was entertaining but did not really advance public policy.

Talking Points has said from the very beginning of this campaign that many Americans are voting on emotion, not facts.

That's why candidates like Trump and Bernie Sanders have gotten so much attention.

Not to say those two men are policy poor, they are not.

But their primary appeal is personal and I think they both acknowledge that.

A couple of specific things from the debate:

Trump was criticized by the Washington Post and others for saying this:

TRUMP: "You look at our borders, they're like Swiss cheese, everybody pours in. ((EDIT)) But we either have a country, or we don't have a country.  We have at least 11 million people in this country that came in illegally.  They will go out.  They will come back -- some will come back, the best, through a process.  They have to come back legally."

The Post saying that Trump is exaggerating, that the border is not as sieve-like as it has been, but that's not the point.

The southern border is not secure, narcotics continue to flow through it at an astounding rate and any thug who wants to get in here can.

We saw that in the Kate Steinle murder case.

So Trump is smart to make border security a cornerstone of his campaign.

It's interesting to watch the left wing respond to the Trump phenomenon.

Even though the press tries to pump up Senator Sanders, nobody really believes that he will defeat Hillary Clinton for the nomination, so there's little drama in that race.

But at this point three Republicans could still become the GOP nominee.

This morning after the debate, Hillary Clinton actually helped Trump:

HILLARY CLINTON: "It's been most surprising to me to see somebody who was affable and good company and had a reputation of being kind of bigger than life, really traffic in a lot of the prejudice and paranoia in some of the comments he's made that have been so divisive and mean spirited, doesn't quite fit with what I thought I knew about him. ((EDIT)) But he has really been offensive and in many respects surprising to those of us who did know him."

Now that was an interesting sound bite showing me that Hillary Clinton has already got her campaign theme that Trump is biased and offensive.

I don't believe three months ago Mrs. Clinton would have said that, but now she knows she may be facing the bombastic businessman head-to-head.

However, Hillary Clinton must know that most Americans feel she is a controversial figure, and anyone she targets gains from her scrutiny because millions of Americans don't like the former secretary of state.

Later on Bolling and Rivera will handicap a possible Trump versus Clinton race but for now I think the Clinton campaign has changed its view.

Before South Carolina Mr. Trump's lead was kind of hypothetical.  Now it's reality.

Many pundits believe Marco Rubio won last night's debate, but again that's your call.

Responsible American voters have now seen the Republicans hash it out ten times, yet it is estimated that six percent of GOP voters are still undecided and others could change allegiance if other candidates drop out.

That is what keeps Rubio and Cruz going, because it's really hard to be undecided about Donald Trump, you either like him or you don't.

One of the big advantages Trump has is name recognition because of his television program.

Rubio and Cruz are not well known by most Americans, so they are essentially playing catch up as far as ID is concerned.

That's why Rubio's feistiness last night may have helped him.

Even though just a fraction of the American public watched the debate, the clips are all over social media and local news.

Rubio took a page out of the Trump playbook: Take it to your opposition.

Unlike past debates, the Florida senator did not concentrate on Ted Cruz.  He went after the poll leader.

For his part, Trump stood firm and fought back the way he always does, using a mixture of disdain and pointed criticisms.

While some Americans are offended by his blunt talk, there is no question it has worked for him so far.

But now it is crunch time.  If Donald Trump sweeps on Tuesday, he wins.

If Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz can stay very close, then it's on to the big March 15th vote in Florida - a must win for any Republican nominee. 

Also, if Trump beats Cruz in Texas on Tuesday, the senator is done.

Now for the other two candidates on the stage.

I thought John Kasich did a very good job because he concentrated on policy and he has been very successful in Ohio.

I like his economic vision, I like his healthcare stand and there is no question the man knows what he's talking about.

But at his point Kasich is really running for vice president; he just can't overcome the three frontrunners.

As for Ben Carson, what can you say?

He's a good man who's waged a dignified campaign but has no shot.

We discussed that with the doctor himself earlier this week.

Carson stays in the race because he feels his message must be heard, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But after Tuesday I expect the doctor to drop out.

Kasich could stay in because his home state of Ohio comes up on March 15th and he runs stronger in the northeast and Midwest than in the south.

So that's about it.  Summing up, Rubio and Cruz gave Trump their best shots.  Trump took the heat and did not buckle.  You the voter make the ultimate call.

That's where the spin really stops. 

And that's the memo.