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The Winners and Losers of the CNBC Debate

Rubio, right, turned the tables on an attack by Bush. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz delivered the strongest performances in Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate, a group of GOP strategists told CQ Roll call, and should see a bounce in their poll numbers between now and the next faceoff in two weeks.  

“Rubio delivered yet another solid performance in which he demonstrated what a good candidate he is. And how formidable he could be in November," said Jason Roe, who has managed and advised congressional campaigns, including that of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.  

"Cruz, I think, had his best night yet. And I think that was courtesy of CNBC. How he took them on and the tone in which he took them on was a real turning point for him and the conversation,” Roe said. “He exposed the ridiculousness of the questions and ingratiated every Republican watching to him.”  

Cruz drew perhaps the loudest applause of the night when he turned on the moderators and the tone of their questions, saying they illustrated why the American people don’t trust the media.  

"You look at the questions  'Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain?' 'Ben Carson, can you do math?' 'John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?' 'Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?' 'Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?'"  

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus led the charge against CNBC afterward, criticizing its “improper and unprofessional display.”