CNBC hosted the third 2016 Republican presidential debate last night in Boulder, Colorado. The two-plus-hour affair had plenty of fireworks, though less inter-candidate bashing than the two previous debates. Ohio Governor John Kasich attempted to go after the two frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ben Carson over their so-called ″fantasy tax plans″. But Trump clobbered Kasich raising the Governor′s former job with the failed mega-bank, Lehman Brothers. Jeb Bush later attempted to take down his fellow Floridian, Marco Rubio, over absenteeism from the floor of the US Senate. Rubio′s response was to compare himself with Barack Obama and John Kerry, which any other candidate might have been able to use to complete the ′kill′ on Rubio. But not the milquetoast Jeb Bush! Bush fumbled the interception, compounded later by getting suckered into giving a ′serious′ answer to a question about online, fantasy football gambling. Not only did Rubio survive Jeb′s attack, but Bush ended the night looking like he just had the fork stuck in him.

The big heroes of the evening were Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and even Chris Christie. They went after the moderators, namely John Harwood, Beck Quick and Carl Quintanilla for asking stupid questions rather than addressing real issues like the $18-plus Trillion dollar National Debt. Ted Cruz scored the best, winning a 98-point reading on the Frank Luntz focus-group-meter, the highest score ever. Huckabee did well in his response to questions about moral authority, as did Christie, who raised the matter of Barack Obama and his War on Police. Many of the Republican candidates bashed the Media over the softball questions asked during the Democrat debate. Overall, there was also more direct attacks against Hillary Clinton and the remaining Democrat candidates. Rubio got big applause for calling Hillary a liar after her Benghazi hearing testimony. Even the audience joined in and booed Carl Quintanilla over his questioning Ben Carson′s judgment.

Some of the early, online polling shows Donald Trump as the winner last night. After Kasich′s failed attack, everybody else left Trump alone. In fact, The Donald stayed pretty cool and calm last night. He also had issues with the moderators, successfully challenging them as they once again brought up the old matter of some casino bankruptcies and the impact on the National Debt from Trump′s tax plan. Trump shot back that his tax plan is the favorite of CNBC′s own Larry Kudlow. During the pre-debate show, Kudlow said more than once that he likes Trump′s plan and did not mention the others′ much. At the end, Trump slammed the door on John Harwood over the negotiations for the debate, namely when Trump and Carson threatened to boycott the event over its length and format.

Of the three debates so far, this one was by far the best for Republicans in general. The distinction between political ideologies was very clear as was how the Democrat candidates intend to continue the failed economic policies of Barack Obama. Facts such as how women and middle-class families have suffered most from the Obama administration, which rarely are mentioned on the ′Mainstream Media′, were explained and heard. Rick Santelli, about the only honest guest moderator to ask questions, focused on the Federal Reserve, much to the delight of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. We also saw last night that, with a couple of exceptions, the GOP candidates avoiding personal attacks against each other.

In two weeks, we have the next GOP debate, this time to be aired on the Fox Business Network. Fortunately, Megyn Kelly will not be involved. But we′ll see if the good will from last night carries over. If we′re lucky, Jeb Bush and John Kasich will have dropped out by then. Those two guys went a bridge too far and got hammered. After all of the backroom rumors of the past week or two concerning the Jeb Bush campaign, he needed a clear win last night more than anybody else and he came up woefully short. We shall see how last night plays out in the polls, though I wonder about that, seeing as how many polls favorable to Donald Trump are not getting any attention at all in the news these days.