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Texas Matters: Breaking Down The GOP Debate

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WBUR Here and Now

Thursday night was the first night that the nation witnessed the 17 Republican presidential hopefuls on stage. Because of the abundance of candidates the FOX news debate was broken down into two heats. We’ll focus on how the candidates who can call Texas home fared. But first, what did Texans think of the debate?

Bexar County Republicans gathered for the presidential debate applauded Donald Trump’s brash, unfiltered comments. But many were more interested in the performance of a fellow Texan.  Texas Public Radio’s Shelley Kofler has reaction from Republicans, who believe their choice of a nominee in 2016 will matter more than it has in recent presidential races.

I thought that the most surprising thing about the night was the crowd. In this debate the crowd functioned really as an eleventh candidate. -Jennifer Mercieca, Texas A&M University professor of communication

There was a lot at stake during the debate. With 17 contenders – each one was looking to break out, move up in the polls or at least keep their big donors happy so their campaign coffers don’t go empty. 

For analysis we turn to an expert in American political discourse about citizenship, democracy and the presidency.  Jennifer Mercieca, Texas A&M University professor of communication and an expert in presidential rhetoric. Her scholarship combines American history with political theory in an effort to understand democratic practices.

My standard for looking at the debate is - did anybody establish themselves as somebody you'd be comfortable inviting into your living room for the next four years, making life and death decision on your behalf? - Harvey Kronberg, Quorum Report

But how will the presidential politics play in Poteet? We turn away from the academic analysis and try to tease out which candidate had the X-factor? We call on Harvey Kronberg of the Quorumreport.com for his take on which wannabe is really a contender for the White House.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi