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By  |  February 14, 2016, 12:15am  |  @ewerickson

Jeb Bush had a tremendous debate night taking on Donald Trump. He did a good job.

But Marco Rubio rose to the occasion tonight. I have written that evangelicals are arriving at a time for choosing and noted that “[e]ach day that ticks by in South Carolina without Marco Rubio gaining ground is a day that Trump continues to dominate.”

Rubio found his footing again in the CBS debate and evangelicals leaning toward Rubio have every reason to see how he trends in South Carolina. He was the candidate who turned issues toward family and I think he got the better of Cruz in the immigration exchange.

Cruz himself did well against Trump and seriously hurt Trump. Trump came across as unhinged and amazingly angry throughout the night. In the fight with Trump, Cruz came out on top. In and of itself, that might help alleviate Rubio supporters’ fears and concerns that they were going to have to make a tough decision soon to abandon ship. Cruz beating Trump so decisively, makes the Rubio supporters abandoning ship less critical in the immediacy.

Ted Cruz had a good night. He held his own, he stood up to Donald Trump, and I suspect his overall immigration answer helps him with a core constituency. Those undecided between Cruz and Trump had to come down for Cruz tonight. Cruz got Trump to defend Planned Parenthood on stage in South Carolina. That’s a win for Cruz.

But Marco Rubio had to prove himself on the debate stage tonight in ways Cruz did not. And Rubio rose to the occasion.

Ben Carson needs to go home. Kasich should shut up.