GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Karl Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, visited Grand Rapids and sat down at the J.W. Marriott with former deputy chief of staff to President Obama, Jim Messina, at the Michigan Political Leadership Program hosted by Michigan State University.
FOX 17 asked each political strategist for their take on Thursday night's Republican debate the included Donald Trump, senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Both strategists noted an apparent lack of decorum at the debate.
"I do think it probably made it more difficult for Donald Trump to unify the party," Rove said.
"I think you have seen Donald Trump run a very unconventional campaign, and I think he'll continue doing that because it's working for him," Messina said.
"Look, I've awoken everyday for the past 6 months, and I've prayed to God that the Republicans nominate Donald Trump," Messina said, "and it looks like they may grant my wish here."
The jabs have escalated from debate to debate. The March 3 debate was full of name-calling. Trump addressed Sen. Cruz as "Lying Ted” and Sen. Rubio as “Little Marco.”
Rove said if you're the front-runner, there comes a time when you have to start acting presidential. "Because the things that the pundits have been harping on were sort of borne out by (Trump's) own conduct in the debate last night, he started to equivocate on immigration," Rove said. "He refused to say when he would release his income tax."
"He got caught up in a controversy over releasing a tape of his interview with the New York Times," Rove said, "of which he supposedly steps back from his immigration stances. But probably the most devastating of all was when Chris Wallace asked, 'You say you're going to cut $300 billion by getting rid of the Department of Education and the EPA, and your numbers don't add up.'"
"And it led to a whole dialogue in which was clear Trump had no idea how he was going to achieve the kind of spending reductions he was talking about," Rove reasoned.