Here is my guide to scoring candidates’ performances in tonight’s Republican presidential debate and how they will likely be judged, using metrics derived from this year’s campaign so far.


Other Candidates:

Did he/she show a detailed command of the issues, both domestic and international?

Did he/she explain those issues articulately and incisively?

Did he/she show the kind of temperament well-suited to being President?

Did he/she offer a compelling personal story outlining his/her qualification to lead?

Did he/she engage opponents on the issues, without resort to ad hominem attacks?

Did he or she succeed in putting forth an inspiring vision of our country and its future?


Donald Trump:

Did he insult women, Latinos, African-Americans and/or other groups?

Did he gloat over having fired employees, closed down companies, or defaulted on loans?

Did he boast about his good looks and/or sexual prowess?

Did he slander the masculinity of other male candidates?

Did he proudly list the politicians he has bought off over the years?

Did he manage to imply that the US is fast becoming a stinking rathole that only he has the power to fumigate and salvage?

Did he boost his bargaining position for returning to The Apprentice?



Feel free to add your own criteria.



Rand Richards Cooper is a contributing editor to Commonweal. His fiction has appeared in Harper’s, GQ, Esquire, the Atlantic, and many other magazines, as well as in Best American Short Stories. His novel, The Last to Go, was produced for television by ABC, and he has been a writer-in-residence at Amherst and Emerson colleges. 

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