By Jay Boyd, Fox News Summer College Associate
The first Republican Presidential debate hosted by Fox News had everything: Donald being Donald, one-liners to remember, and a war of words that ended up taking on a more personal tone.
From the very first question asked by Bret Baier, we had a feeling that this wasn’t going to be just another debate. Donald Trump refused to rule out a third-party run, even though Baier pressed him, saying that experts believe the move could almost certainly hand the race to the Democrats. Trump stood by his words. The real estate mogul and businessman knows he strikes a chord with people because of his ability to speak his mind, and he ensured that trend was continued.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addressed questions ranging from Iraq to Common Core, both of which are issues that could be pivot points in his campaign. Pundits believe he was able to answer those questions effectively, thus playing par for the course. Bush has long been the favorite of the Republican establishment, and most experts believe his performance last night did nothing to hurt that position.
Governor Scott Walker came into the debate 3rd in the polls, garnering support from various sectors of the party. Walker and Marco Rubio came into the debate with the highest favorability ratings among the Republican candidates, and the general consensus is neither did much to hurt those positions. Governor Walker stayed strong with his convictions on social issues, along with presenting a one-liner on Russia and China knowing more about Hillary Clinton’s emails than the US government. The crowd cheered in approval.
Many today feel that the big winners were from a selection of John Kasich, Rubio, Chris Christie, and political rookie Ben Carson. Kasich had the home-field advantage with the debate taking place in his home state of Ohio. He provided what some felt to be a compassionate answer to the question of gay marriage, in saying he loved people for who they were, not because of their stands on issues. If this was your introduction to Kasich, which it was for a majority of Americans, he made sure you knew about his record, which includes being the architect of the most recent balanced budget in Washington, D.C.
Senator Rubio delivered his personal message of being the child of immigrants who saw America as an opportunity, a staple of his campaign. He moved to appeal to the working class through his discussion of his parents’ financial difficulties, and he sought to present himself as an example of what the American Dream can resemble. In spite of being the youngest presidential candidate, many believed Rubio displayed the presence of a seasoned contender.
Dr. Ben Carson announced himself to America at the debate, demonstrating his demure yet compelling approach to the race, and he was full of memorable one-liners. When discussing his medical background, Carson mentioned he removed half a brain at one point. Immediately following, he quipped, “although you would think if you go to Washington, someone had beaten me to it.”
Perhaps the most unforgettable moment of the debate was when the discussion turned to the NSA, spying, and phone records. Chris Christie laid out his opinions on the issue, saying it’s impossible to delineate between terrorists and civilians if you don’t know whom the terrorists are. Senator Rand Paul, viewed as the champion of the Libertarians, lambasted Christie, telling him to “get a warrant” and “use the 4th Amendment”. Christie snapped back at Paul, saying he “[sits] in a subcommittee just blowing hot air”. But, the war of words had to be cut off once it took on a more personal level, with Christie slamming Paul’s campaign strategy.
This combative nature became a theme for Senator Paul, who came out with guns blazing, picking fights with Christie and Trump, and calling out the Donald multiple times. Paul slammed Trump for his potential independent run (should he lose the nomination) and his previous donations to campaigns such as those of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.
Not to be outdone, former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina gained high marks for her performance in the “Happy Hour” debate earlier in the day on Fox. Many felt she was clear and concise in her presentation and provided some off-the-cuff statements about Hillary that could live on should she move up in the polls, as some feel may happen after her performance.
As a result of this debate, we can expect the polls to tighten up. The Hunger Games Primary has only just begun.