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I doubt it’s what he intended, but Donald Trump has done the Republican Party a big favor.

The GOP debate in Cleveland last week drew 24 million viewers – the highest ever, more than three times as the most watched debate of the 2012 cycle. This was due chiefly to Mr. Trump’s presence.

The evening’s big winner was former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. She dominated the undercard, then dismembered MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews when he criticized her for calling Hillary Clinton a liar.

“Carly Fiorina is the Ronda Rousey of politics,” said an admiring John Hinderaker of the Power Line blog. Ronda Rousey is a (gorgeous) Mixed Martial Arts fighter who Sports Illustrated said is “the world’s most dominant athlete.”

Ms. Fiorina won the debate, said 22 percent in an online poll conducted by Survey Monkey for NBC News. Mr. Trump was second, at 18 percent. But 29 percent said The Donald did the worst job in the debate. His net score of –11 tied him for last with Sen. Rand Paul.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be superb presidents. Both performed well in the undercard. But Carly Fiorina’s boffo performance effectively dooms their candidacies.

The questions he was asked were “unfair,” Mr. Trump whined after the debate. He made misogynist cracks about Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (who’d asked him about earlier misogynist remarks he’d made) and Ms. Fiorina.

The Trump boomlet is fueled by disgust with the gutless, brain dead, duplicitous GOP “leaders” in Congress, who – in the immortal words of Henry Clay – “aren’t worth the powder and shot to kill them.”

The Donald isn’t the only candidate to speak out on the issues rank and file Republicans care about most, or to refuse to be intimidated by Political Correctness. But he’s been the only one to whom the news media have paid much attention.

He still leads the GOP field. But now that the real Donald Trump is emerging, I don’t think it will last.

Those who tuned in to the Cleveland debate saw other candidates who share their concerns, and their scathing opinion of our greedy, corrupt, cowardly, dishonest ruling class.

In glaring contrast to Trump’s truly stupid explanation of our illegal immigration crisis – “because our leaders are stupid” – Ted Cruz nailed what’s really going on: “You know, there was reference made to our leaders being stupid. It’s not a question of stupidity. It’s that they don’t want to enforce the immigration laws. That there are far too many in the Washington cartel that support amnesty.”

Sen. Cruz has called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a liar on the Senate floor (which he is), ferociously attacks what he calls “the party of Washington.” So does Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, though less stridently.

I doubt it’s a coincidence that after Ms. Fiorina, Sen. Cruz, gained the most from the debate, according to the NBC/Survey Monkey poll.

Mr. Trump has contributed more to Hillary Clinton than to any other politician. Bill encouraged him to run  (presumably because he thinks it would help Hillary). Mr. Trump favors national health care, has essentially the same views on international trade as does Socialist Bernie Sanders.

Few of Mr. Trump’s supporters know this. But debate watchers saw he has no solutions for illegal immigration, Islamic terror, or anything else. A focus group conducted by Frank Luntz for Fox News was brutal.

It wasn’t “unfair” for the Fox hosts to ask Mr. Trump if he’d support the GOP nominee for president (if it isn’t him), or about the unflattering remarks he’s made about women (which Democrats would be certain to bring up if he were the nominee). The other candidates were asked tough questions too.

They handled them better than did Mr. Trump, who displayed a thin skin and poor judgment. His top adviser resigned last Saturday (8/08) because of his attacks on Ms. Kelly and Ms. Fiorina. The Donald “is losing touch with reality,” Roger Stone told friends.

“Donald Trump is scared of Carly Fiorina, and rightly so,” said GOP consultant Liz Mair. “She offers all that is appealing about Trump: DC outsider, business executive, not a politician, says what she thinks, hits hard.”

The Trump balloon won’t descend suddenly, or soon. But as viewers of subsequent debates notice other candidates offer more than bluster and insults, air will leak from it.

UFC champion Ronda Rousey defeated her last three opponents in 64 seconds combined. You can see her face-planting her last one here. I suspect it wouldn’t take much longer for Carly Fiorina to rhetorically face-plant The Donald in a one-on-one debate.

Jack Kelly is a former Marine and Green Beret, and was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force during the Reagan Administration. He is the national security writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette