Editor’s Note: Van Jones is president of Dream Corps and Rebuild the Dream, which promote innovative solutions for America’s economy. He was President Barack Obama’s green jobs adviser in 2009. A best-selling author, he is also founder of Green for All, a national organization working to build a green economy. Follow him on Twitter @VanJones68. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Story highlights

Van Jones: Like most, I thought Carly Fiorina was tonight's big winner

Fiorina reminds me of a more human Romney, she is a polished and poised debater

CNN  — 

Like most, I thought Carly Fiorina was tonight’s big winner. Unlike many others, I think her strongest moment had nothing to do with Donald Trump.

The weak field helped. Trump kicked Jeb Bush around like a failed prospect on :The Apprentice.” Bush’s biggest applause line was defending his brother, which I’m sure the Hillary Clinton campaign loved. Nearly all rushed to promise magical toughness fixes to the Middle East and more deportations, while failing to mention the economy until it was an excuse not to act on climate change.

Fiorina reminds me of a more human Mitt Romney. She is a polished and poised debater. The question is whether her business track record of mass layoffs comes back to haunt her, as it did Romney.

But on Wednesday tonight, she combined personal stories with policy specifics better than anyone else on the stage. Asked about drug policy reform, she gave a heartbreaking account of the loss of a child that moved every watching parent of all parties – and then transitioned seamlessly into a conservative case for reforming our criminal justice system.

That answer was all the more impressive because it came in the midst of a number of strong responses that showed the broad consensus on scaling back our system of mass incarceration. Kudos to CNN’s Jake Tapper for posing a question that moved us past Trump’s noisy racism, and provoked Bush’s apology to his mom, Fiorina’s tearjerker, and a healthy dose of substance.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

Read CNNOpinion’s Flipboard magazine.