4. Rand Paul reminded conservatives why they originally liked him. With very little to lose, Rand was on message when it came to immigration, foreign policy, and fighting the real Islamic terror threat without infringing upon the liberties of American citizens. Unfortunately for him, it’s too late. Since he lacks any real campaign apparatus and campaign cash, it is unlikely Paul will be able to capitalize on this performance. Most significantly, it will have the effect of hurting Rubio and helping Cruz.
5. Trump got the message: Trump clearly learned the lesson that he will continue to rise by focusing on immigration and hitting other candidates from the right; not hitting Cruz from the left.
6. It’s immigration stupid: You will see a direct correlation between the rise and fall of the candidates in their polling and the prominence of immigration in their responses. The arc of this race will continue to result in a Trump-Cruz race for the same reason it currently stands as such. Both candidates speak to where the base is on the most important issue of our time and they understand, as Cruz said, that national security starts with border security. For the first time in the campaign, the moderators and the candidates (Cruz and Paul) trapped Marco on the Gang of 8 bill and demonstrated how he still supports the goals of the bill. Being on the wrong side of immigration is toxic, and the political elites within the party and “conservative media” will be forced to learn that. At the same time, Cruz deftly handled the question on Trump’s Muslim immigration ban by parlaying into his plan, which speaks over the false choice between an absolute ban and ignoring the mass migration from the Middle East as the central issue pertaining to our national security.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.