After the first two GOP presidential debates last month, I wrote a piece in this space under the headline "Two Debates One Winner." That winner was Carly Fiorina. Wednesday night, as Yogi supposedly once said, it was déjà vu all over again.
Fiorina came off as Thatcheresque. Smart. Quick. Tough. Funny. At one point she was asked about Trump's comment about her face, a nasty insult suggesting that people wouldn't vote for her because she's ugly. When pressed right after the remark, Trump lamely "explained" that he was talking not about her face, but about her "persona." What did she think of Trump's cheap shot? Employing the wisdom that less is more, Fiorina elegantly replied, "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said." The audience at the Reagan library cheered.
And Trump, who supposedly doesn't mince words and never admits he made a mistake, responded with, "I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman." No one cheered that insincere comeback. Even his most ardent fans know that it was nothing more than belated damage control.
Carly's remark hit the needlessly mean-spirited Donald right between the eyes. But who knows if her poll numbers will go up or if his will go down. Nothing he says has hurt him yet. Maybe this will. Maybe.
In a post-debate analysis on Fox, I told Bill O'Reilly that if news organizations had given Fiorina the air time that they've been giving Trump, she would have been in the lead long before the second debate. I'm guessing they'll pay more attention to her now.
If GOP voters want to win, they'll give Carly Fiorina a serious look. More than any other Republican candidate she can win over those suburban women who are scared off by the tone and manner of some conservatives and who might otherwise hold their nose and vote for Hillary.
Marco Rubio also did well at the debate. He came off as smart and knowledgeable and with a father who tended bar and a mother who was a maid, he's an American success story. There are worse things for the GOP to contemplate than a Fiorina-Rubio ticket, a woman and a Latino, an outsider and an insider, middle age and youth. On paper anyway, that's formidable.