The big question emerging from the tenth Republican debate is whether Marco Rubio did enough damage to Donald Trump to make a difference in the race. Rubio convincingly depicted Trump as a charlatan (a case that is not very hard to make), and this morning he was even blunter, calling Trump a “con artist.”
Trump, for his part, is sticking to his line that Rubio is a “choker,” referring to his now famous dismantling at the hands of Chris Christie.
For Rubio, it may be too little, too late. And as Jeet Heer noted, Rubio will now face the full fury of Trump, of which he has so far been largely spared.
But the debate clarified that the main dynamic in this race, going forward, is the contest between Rubio and Trump. Ted Cruz, for all his efforts, was relegated to third-wheel status. Cruz will, of course, be an important factor on Super Tuesday, particularly in his home state of Texas, but it increasingly looks like his role will be that of spoiler. Whether for Trump (by denying him a victory in Texas) or for Rubio (by continuing to splinter the opposition to Trump) remains to be seen.