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Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

10:13 PM: Rubio campaign pushing out on all cylinders that he's coming in second in a Google poll of who's winning the debate.

10:15 PM: Rote memory of stump speeches is how you end up saying the Air Force is about to be as small as it's been in a hundred years.

10:23 PM: "Lovemember" is the best new word of this debate.

10:43 PM: One thing that seems very clear coming out of this debate is that Cruz's team worked with him to tone down his tone compared to the Iowa. He came off very badly, notwithstanding the win.

10:47 PM: Just after the debate on ABC, all the ABC pundits agreeing the Rubio had a terrible night.

Here's the actual verbatim transcript of the Rubio Trifecta. It's even better seeing the actual words.

9:18 PM: Here's Rubes' epic repeat the same stump line three times moment.

9:26 PM: Yep, Cruz does not know what carpet bombing means.

9:30 PM: Debaters have allowed Rubio to get back to scripted lines. Curious whether they'll come after him again.

9:34 PM: Starting to feel like the major players feel like they made their points or did what they needed to do and are now hanging back.

9:40 PM: For all the bad things I've said about Ted Cruz over the last couple years, I don't think I've ever heard him stumble over his words or be at a loss for words. I think he found himself halfway through that torture answer and realized, wow, I'm lost here. This sounds terrible. So he stopped for a moment to try to think how to talk his way out of his answer. It was neither principled nor hardcore in terms of torture and the rule of law. He was lost. I've never seen him lost before.

9:45 PM: I'm getting the sense that Christie feels like if he goes after Rubio again it'll seem like bullying or maybe even a war crime.

9:47 PM: Here's the write up of the second time Christie went after Rubio, this time over his explanation of abandoning his own immigration bill.

9:50 PM: I've give him this. This story of his sister is a strong moment for Cruz. Sort of ruining it now (from my POV, not necessarily his audience) by pivoting to immigrant bashing. But, a strong moment for Cruz.

9:52 PM: Christie also has a very strong moment on drug overdose issue, demonstrates his key argument: that he has real world experience, has been accountable for solutions.

I think we can say with some confidence that each candidate realized that everything was on the line in this debate. Trump was very strong for the first hour. But I'm curious how the last five minutes is going to play. I do not think I've ever seen a candidate attack the audience at the debate before.

The big loser so far is Rubio. Everybody wanted to go after him today. And he gave them lots of material to work with in real time.

8:54 PM: Rubio having a very hard time reacting on his feet, even to this immigration question.

8:55 PM: Christie basically disemboweling Rubio at this point.

8:56 PM: "that was tried" - Rubio talking about himself in the passive voice.

8:58 PM: I don't know if it'll help him. But Trump has gotten much better at debating. And he seems to have come into this debate realizing he needs to do everything he can to steady his campaign.

9:01 PM: Here's that bizarre Ben Carson moment from the beginning of the debate.

9:05 PM: Back to dominance Trump.

9:05 PM: I will say I think that's the first time I've ever seen a debate participant attack the audience.

8:18 PM: So, yes, we're trying to figure out what the hell was going on with Ben Carson.

8:20 PM: "I talked about Muslims. We have a problem."

8:21 PM: For Trump, I think that was a pretty strong opening.

8:22 PM: Seems pretty clear that Cruz got briefed on very bad polling about himself.

8:25 PM: I'd say Ted Cruz is off to a really tough beginning of the debate.

8:26 PM: Here's our definitive timeline of the Cruz/Carson debacle. Is Ted telling the truth?

8:31 PM: I don't think this is the best way for Rubio to convince people he's not repeating lines that he's learned by rote.

8:33 PM: Rubio's killing himself here. No one spontaneously repeats the verbatim line over and over and over like this.

8:37 PM: It was hard to keep up with all that was going on there. But I think that was one of those very bad spontaneous moments for Rubio. Christie (and others) have been pushing this line that Rubio is green, scripted and protected. Rubio couldn't have illustrated that better than by trying to recover by going back to the identical pre-fab stump speech line three times in a row. Rubio defended himself from the charge that he's just an automaton who can only give a stump speech by retreating again and again to his stump speech. And Christie was quick on his feet enough to catch it in real time.

8:45 PM: If Rubio's boxing right now he really, really needs the round to end.

We will of course be bringing you live coverage of tonight's Republican primary debate in New Hampshire. You expect the hosting networks to say things like this and even the candidates. But I think there's a good argument that this will be the most important debate of the GOP primary campaign.

There are many more primaries to go of course and many more debates. But a number of candidates are just barely hanging on. Really every candidate aside from Trump, Rubio and Cruz. Depending on how things pan out on Tuesday, even one of them could be kicked off the island.

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