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Kelly File

Fox News Republican Debate: The voter's verdict

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," August 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Twenty four hours after the first Republican presidential debate and the verdict is officially in. It was a record breaker.

Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly. Back in New York after a whirlwind few days in Cleveland, Ohio that culminated with a remarkable exchange of ideas and what proved to be the highest rated cable news program of all time. Now that the dust has settled and the voters have had time to process what the candidates said, we want to drill down past the first impressions and explore who has the best chance against Hillary Clinton, should she win the democratic nomination.

We'll also discuss the other woman making big headlines today, Carly Fiorina as well as another breakout candidate who is suddenly being talked about as a contender for the top prize.

Plus, we'll be joined by Dr. Ben Carson and we'll ask him what it was like on the other side of the lectern. And finally, I'll give you an exclusive behind the scenes look at my experience there getting ready for this debate including the story of why yours truly almost did not make it to that debate at all.

We've got an exclusive "Kelly File" panel of Republican voters here with us tonight and political experts as well to give us gut reaction and to go beyond the mainstream media headlines. But before we do, let's read this, it's just a couple of key moments from last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our leaders are stupid. Our politicians are stupid and the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper, much more cunning and they send the bad ones over because they don't want to pay for them.  

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm a different kind of republican. I've introduced a five-year balanced budget. I've introduced the largest tax cut in our history. I've stood for 10-and-a-half hours on the Senate floor to defend your right to be left alone.

MIKE HUCKABEE, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, R-WIS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I acknowledge that. I said I actually listen to the American people and I think people across America who want a leader who's actually going to listen to them.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-TEXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you're looking for someone to go to Washington to go along to get along, to agree with the career politicians in both parties, who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain't your guy.

GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect and let them share in this great American dream that we have.  

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-N.J., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Paul, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th. Those are the hugs that I remember and those had nothing to do -- and those had nothing to do with politics.  

JEB BUSH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Knowing what we know now with faulty intelligence and not having security being the first priority when we invaded, it was a mistake. I wouldn't have gone in.  

DR. BEN CARSON, R- PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking very much for to demonstrating that, in fact, the thing that is probably most important is having a brain and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm our nominee, how's Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck. If I'm our nominee we will be the party of the future.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: And joining me now our panel of voters with their verdict. Welcome to you all.  

(Panel of voters): Thank you.  

KELLY: Thanks so much for being here. All right. I want to do something akin to what Frank Luntz did last night where he just asked -- let's start with the sort of the star going into last night's debate Donald Trump. How many people here liked Donald Trump before last night's debate? And how many people like him now? Oh, so he won over some people too, interesting.  All right. Let me start with you, Rachel. Why did you like him? Why do you like him now?

RACHEL: I think that he really held his own and that he stayed true to his personality and ultimately, you know, that's what we expected of him.  

KELLY: Uh-mm. Anybody else have a different reaction? Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't like Trump -- before the debate. Afterwards, you know, they say there's no crying in baseball, there's no whining in politics. And here's a little whining in certain parts of the debate. And if you're going to be leading our country, I like a lot of what he says.  But if you're also whining at the same time, I think you lose a little bit of that.

KELLY: Uh-mm. Anybody?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel like he responded to your question about essentially buying politicians and things of that nature by basically arguing, I'm not just a crony capitalist, I'm the best crony capitalist.  And the classy is crony capitalist. And for my perspective, that's just not a solution. That's not a guy who is interested in solutions. I don't know about you but I would want to pay the Clintons to stay away from my wedding.  

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's also proved himself that he's more style than substance if anything last night.  

KELLY: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he just repeats the same soundbites all the time. He needs to tell us how he's going to do, what he's going to do.  Not just keep promising us that he's going to do it.  

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Donald Trump messages may resonate with republican voters because they feel some of the same ways when you're talking about traditional marriage and immigration. And he brings those things to the forefront. Not only that. He's been losing business deals because of what he believes. So, people are interested in that. That keeps him innovative and interested in his message. However, he has to have a level of gravitas that he can understand and accept a question like you posed to him and be able to answer it clearly and not get upset by it.  And he got very upset. That's not presidential at all.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, I think his stance on women, completely inappropriate and, you know, when they started the debate and he refuses to side with the Republican Party, I think that really set the tone for Donald Trump. And I agree, you can see the popularity. His popularity, but, you know, the American people -- he's hit the nerve. They're listening to him and they're frustrated and he's bringing up good points but I don't understand how that translates, his whole demeanor. You know, how many times did he use the word shut up or stupid? And how does that translate to the oval office. Do we want our commander-in-chief?

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He serves a purpose. You know, the electorate is really fed up with politicians.

KELLY: Uh-mm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is the magnet for that as others have been before him. Ross Perot going back some years sort of did the same thing. Let's hope Trump doesn't go into a third party because that would be disastrous.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of being a nonpolitician and talk about issue.

KELLY: Go ahead. You in the back.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I really believe that right now -- focusing on building our economy. And he has the experience of building multi-billion dollar, you know, businesses. So I don't think Washington needs another, you know, recited and well-rehearsed politician. You know, he reminds me of myself. I'd rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I'm not.  So, if that's the real Donald Trump that we're going to be getting, I'd rather nowhere we'll going to get than some recited well politician --  

KELLY: Interesting point. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone here seems to have said everything about Donald Trump that everyone -- the reason why everyone is attracted to him.  Everyone hit on one certain thing, you hit on the fact that he is a businessman, he did a great thing for the economy.

KELLY: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was hit on the fact that he's rough, he's course.  Donald Trump has tapped into something. He's tapped into people's frustrations. Right now America's frustrated on what's going on under seven years of Obama. People are upset. People don't like what they see.  They're looking for someone to lead them. Someone to take them in a different direction. And I think someone else meant should be, they tied for the politics as usual. So, Donald Trump is not the politics as usual.  He's rough. He's course. Is that the way we need to go? Is that a guy that can carry the Republican Party? I'm not sure. But all the comments here are basically what has drawn people to him.  

KELLY: He looks different, he sounds different, he acts different unlike any other candidate we've ever seen. Go ahead. Sorry.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I disagree. I think that his demeanor and his attitude last night was downright arrogant. He opened up with complete negative comments about women and he had that egotistical attitude that I am afraid of.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I think that he's like the student that comes to class that's really smart and came unprepared but needless to say, he's unprepared. But he's a smart guy. He's successful for a reason. And I think that he says what we're all thinking. I'm Latin. I'm with him 100 percent on the illegal immigration. And, you know, I think that he is saying what we are all thinking but we are just so pc. And we don't want to say it. I'm glad he says what he says --

KELLY: Let me ask you about that. And I say, on the subject of saying what we're all thinking, now I asked him the question about words, you know, that he's used to refer to women. I understand that some people talk like that, you know, privately or when they were in college, okay, I get that. But I think it's an issue because, well, for the obvious reasons.  But also because to say it publicly suggests something else. I mean, I don't know. I don't know a man in my own life who would come out and call a woman a fat pig, I really don't. Not even privately, never mind publicly. No matter how mad he is at her. But that's my own standard and not necessarily everybody else's.  

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree with him on a lot of his issues. And I certainly don't like the way he comes across. It seems crass, it seems harsh but I think what he's tapped into is that, you look at Donald Trump and you think he's being honest. You think he's telling the truth. You know, there's no filter on the man. And he's not a refined politician.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a straight shooter. That's what I think people are --

KELLY: What about the fact that, you know, do you think we -- I'm sorry.  Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just going to say, who is Donald Trump?  Because he has a record that doesn't stand for what he is today. So, yes, he has us talking about issues which I think is fantastic and we need to do those things. But he was pro-choice, he was part of the Democratic Party, he has donated to this. So, who is he going to be if we put him in the White House?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that's the whole point.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the whole point. You know, he's telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. Obama was an expert in manipulating words and making you feel fluffy and nice inside to make you feel like you like him and look what we have now. Like I'd rather deal with ten, you know, Trumps than one Obama. You know, if you guys want to deal with the same old crowd, then don't vote for Trump. But that's the whole point like you guys are saying, I don't like what he is saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But let's look at flip-flopping onto the abortion issue in particular. You know, the first President Bush flip-flopped on abortion and flip-flopped on taxes. You had an impression that well, it's just a question of time until he goes back to his old liberal self. You don't get that impression from Donald Trump. This is the guy, he says he's going to do something --  

KELLY: A lot of people have flip-flopped on abortion in his defense --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Oh, yes, exactly.

KELLY: In particular over the past ten years which is his time frame because of modern technology because you see as he says he did. I mean, he talks about a family that was going to abort their child but then she -- they didn't and she grew -- I mean, so that, I feel like you can understand the evolution on abortion. In Donald Trump's case, he has evolved on many issues which has people wondering. That, plus the fact that he's not, you know, he's threatening her party run which were basically give, you know, the Clinton's possibly the White House back.  

Let me move on because I want to talk to you about another person getting rave reviews from last night. And that is Marco Rubio. Here's a sound bite from him. This is number two from the control room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUBIO: If I'm our nominee, how's Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

How was she going to lecture me about student loans, I owed over $100,000 just four years ago. If I'm our nominee, we will be the party of the future.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: All right. How many had a favorable impression of Marco Rubio before? And do now. All right. So, he did well. In the back.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I've always liked the Marco Rubio, I think that he really stands very much in the middle of the Republican Party for a lot of very positive things.  

KELLY: What else did you like about him? Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The segment where he said, his father was a bartender and from behind the bar to this stage, to the U.S. Senate, that crystallizes everything that the United States is supposed to be about.  We've drifted away from that. And I think his candidacy kind of speaks to, let's get back to that.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Living paycheck to paycheck because so many people in our country are doing that these days.  

KELLY: Yes. Do you ever worry that some people say, he's too young? He's too inexperienced?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. Here's the issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No.

KELLY: You haven't spoken in the middle. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, I'm young and someone asked me how old I was before I came on here. And I don't think, you know, you should be held against -- I mean, Janet Katy (ph) very, very young. And, you know, I think he is honest. He was the fifth youngest.

KELLY: Wow! Look at her with the data. I like that.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I think that Marco Rubio is honest and open in a genuine heartfelt way. I think people like Donald Trump because he's open and he's honest but he's kind of crass and crude. And Marco Rubio is just like, he's just like look, it's how it is. I was raised, you know, working class. I want to have like substantial solution to people who are already here working and already contributing.  

KELLY: I can relate to that. A lot of them have similar backgrounds --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need that youth today. We need that.  

KELLY: So, not Jeb Bush.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what was missing in Romney and that's what Bush is straggling with. He's uncomfortable with his privileged background, it's what I see.  

KELLY: That's right. Let me ask -- before the debate who liked Jeb Bush?  Okay. And now, after the debate who liked Jeb Bush? Same. So, he picked up a couple. So, in the back, what did you think of his debate performance?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that Jeb has needed to play it safe. I mean, he is a frontrunner. And obviously there are certain issues that he has to overcome with his last name. I would have loved to have seen him break that perfectly fluent Spanish. Because I do think that he brings certain elements for the party if we can get beyond the name, if we can go to his record, if we can go to his ability to broaden the base and to bring new people in. That he can that type of candidate, that can kind of open up the future for the GOP just like Marco Rubio[W71] as well.  

KELLY: And who here had a big fiery reaction to Governor Walker? There you go. I joke because Governor Walker didn't make a lot of headlines today for having a little fun of his expense. Go ahead in the back.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I'm from Wisconsin. And I think he just did a phenomenal job. But what I really like specially in the immigration response he gave, he just came across, you know, as very humble. You know, somebody who says, what, I changed my mind. I went to the border. I've talked to people. I learned more about this issue. And I changed my position as a result. How many politicians can you think of that actually do that, just admit, look, I was wrong. I studied it. This is what I think now.  

KELLY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Walker has a problem though with his likability and appeal to the general electorate because of his positions on no life exception for --  

KELLY: Let's talk about that. To you republican voters --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

KELLY: As I pointed out in that question, 83 percent of the American public favors an exception on an abortion band. If it's necessary, save the life of the mother, he is not one of those 83 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that that really harms him and it would harm the party putting him forward. The general electorate is probably not going to vote for them if you know that 83 percent of the general population does not agree with that position. And it's really -- it's a hot topic that everybody is talking about. I think it does hurt the party a little bit to keep focusing on that issue.

KELLY: Let me ask you guys. If you're comfortable sharing, who here is pro-life? And among the folks who are pro-life, who favors an exception to an abortion band? If it's necessary to save the life of the mother.  

(INAUDIBLE)

Okay. Yes, I realize. Some people abuse it. You know, we had Dr. Tiller who was murdered, who would use a health exception to abort third term fetuses. I understand that. And life exceptions can be abused in certain -- I understand your point.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the main conversation right now though about the abortion issue in America more about whether we should be funding Planned Parenthood.  

KELLY: It is and we got to that. It is and we got that. But the reason I asked Governor Walker that question about abortion is because, that's what they're going to hit him with it if he gets the nomination.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Personhood, constitution amendment or something like that, coming forward? I mean --

KELLY: Well, a president has a lot of power over these issues, you know, in terms of what he pushes and what he doesn't. He's going to get hit by that by Hillary Clinton if he becomes the nominee. Stand by. I'm going to get to you in the next block because we have to move on.  

Facebook was tracking millions of interactions over this debate last night.  And you might be surprised which candidates got the most mentions and which did not.

Plus, they offered us a fascinating look at which issues turned out to be the most important. They may not be the ones you expect. We're back with the panel in a moment. Don't go away.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUCKABEE: The fair tax transforms the process by which we fund social security and Medicare. Because the money paid in consumption is paid by everybody including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers. All the people that are free loading off the system now. That's why it ought to be a transformed system.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: All right. All right. Enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: He's sat on the board of a Bloomberg charity that quite publicly gave tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood while you were a director. How can you help a charity so openly committed to abortion rights?  

BUSH: Here's my record, as governor of the state of Florida, I defunded Planned Parenthood. I created a culture of life in our state.  

KELLY: Did you know?

BUSH: No, I didn't know, but it doesn't matter.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Well, that was Jeb Bush fielding a question about Planned Parenthood last night. Facebook analysis found that abortion was a top five issue for the folks that they were tracking. Ranking above foreign policy in the Middle East. So, did Jeb Bush help or hurt himself with that answer? And did anyone else end up damaging their own reputation in the effort to score some points. Back now to our panel. He ultimately said he didn't know that this group that he was sitting on was giving tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood over the years. The past four years he's a director on the company. Tens of millions. Very well publicized. I of course, didn't get the chance to follow up to him. But what do you think? Is it plausible that he didn't know? Did you believe that he didn't know? Go ahead sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flat-out lying in my opinion. You can almost read in his --

KELLY: A lie, you don't believe it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope. I don't believe it at all.

KELLY: You think he knew and he just didn't object.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he didn't know but he should have known because, you know, I imagine he's on boards of lots of things and involved in all sorts of different projects and doesn't know all the details. But, you know, when you're in a public life, when you're the governor of the state and you're named Bush you should know.  

KELLY: But does it matter to you given his strong pro-life record in Florida which is legit. Go ahead.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a federal lobbyist. I work with these elected officials all the time. They know these issues before I sit on any -- they know who's giving money.  

KELLY: Why would he do that? Because his record in Florida is very pro- life.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he thought he'd consider around a topic that everyone would like, education. That's an important topic. And people will embrace that. But Planned Parenthood is a disaster now and there should be an investigation where there isn't currently one under this administration.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's interesting. What did you make of Marco Rubio?  Because I asked him last night about the fact, how can you believe that life begins at conception in favor in exception for rape and incest?  Right? Because this is what the pro-life folks say that, why would you kill a life just because it began violently. And he denied that he supported rape and incest exceptions. But the truth is, he does. His record shows that he does. Does anybody have a reaction to that? Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I did. I think that he needs to clarify. And that's exactly the sort of behavior that people are tired of, the flip flopping.  They're not sure of their positions or their record says otherwise and it just makes it difficult to give credibility to what they're saying and to find an honesty in what they're saying. So, I think he needs to work hard in clarifying his position on that. I was kind of surprise --  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me just give just because -- just because I hold a similar position, let me give this view. Just because I'm in favor of a 20 week ban doesn't mean that I think the 19 week old infant doesn't have a right to life. It does mean that I want to --

KELLY: You'll take what you can get?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll take what I can get. And I think that that was what I feel like what Rubio was trying to say but it's not what he said.  

KELLY: Like I backed legislation that has the exceptions because that's the political reality.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.

KELLY: Understood. That's how he should have said it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think suddenly obviously in light of all of these Planned Parenthood videos, now all of a sudden we have these presidential candidates that have become pro-life. So, I think it's important to look at their history.  

KELLY: See if it's real.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it's real.  

KELLY: Let me ask you about -- I want to move on. Because the dynamic between Rand Paul and Chris Christie probably the moment of the night.  That's what everybody is talking about today. And I'm wondering whether you thought -- first of all, raise your hand if you thought Rand Paul won that exchange. Raise your hand if you thought Chris Christie won that exchange.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think both.  

KELLY: let's play a little. Let's play a little, show a little, let's see Rand going after Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: I don't trust President Obama with our records. I know you gave him a big hug and if you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

KELLY: Go ahead, Governor.

CHRISTIE: And, you know what, Senator Paul, Senator Paul, you know, the hugs that I remember are the hugs that I gave to the families who lost their people on September 11th. Those are the hugs I remember.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: What did you think of that moment?

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

KELLY: Oh, they're all fired up about that one. Yes. You go over here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a 9/11 family member and I have to say that, you know, Chris Christie has been inconsistent with some of the -- some of the things he's done with 9/11 family members. So, I really don't know why he's touting his 9/11 family member record. He's appointed judges that are radical to the bench in New Jersey. So, I have real issues, and I think real issues with him. But what I saw from him in this exchange. I've met Chris Christie. This is typical Chris Christie. This is what he is, in your face all the time. I'm not backing down. I'm going to tell you what it is whether you like it or not.  

KELLY: Do you like Donald Trump?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do.  

KELLY: You likening Donald Trump, you're not likening Chris Christie. I don't understand.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Donald Trump is going to fade and a guy like Chris Christie is going to fill that vacuum.  

KELLY: You think so?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he represents, this echoes, Donald Trump. He's actually been a governor, he's actually been an attorney general.  

KELLY: Can you get past the bear hug that Rand Paul was referring to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I certainly can.  

KELLY: How about Bridgegate? Do you care about that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care about --  

KELLY: How many care about Bridgegate?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't live in New Jersey.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I was about to mention, Megyn.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was a draw because Chris Christie had Bridgegate. And that was something that he was trying to come out of the shadows of. And Rand Paul as a millennial myself I think that the government should be collecting my records en masse. I think you should go and get a warrant for it. So, in that instance, they both won something.  As a millennial, that's what I like in Chris Christie here something to understand on the --  

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I live a mile from George Washington bridge. I commute to New Jersey everybody for work. You know, he was great in the debate last night. He absolutely is a mic drop moment. But the truth of the matter is the New Jersey transit trains are terrible. The Bridgegate debate was very, very real and it was a significant amount of baggage. And I can't imagine why Chris Christie would want to be president of the United States. And he received so much better help during Sandy. So, it seems like he's great on TV but is he really prepared?

KELLY: Let me ask you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. That's the point.  

KELLY: What about Rand? Because when he came out there at the beginning moment of the debate when Trump said he might run as an independent. And Rand came out swinging saying, this is a problem. Right? And then he came out swinging against Christie. He clearly trying to make an impression.  Here I am, you in the back because we haven't heard from you.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rand Paul didn't have a choice. He had to make an impact in this debate and that's what he tried to do early. And it was a put off. It actually diminished him in my eyes when I saw that.  

KELLY: Is that right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the point here is being missed. I mean, the fact of the matter --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big fundamental issue going on, what you saw was Christie and what you saw with Rand Paul was, you know, do we care about our laws in our country? Do we care about our bill of rights? Do we care about our privacy and protection versus how far are we willing to make sure that we don't have another terrorist event? And, you know, the fact of the matter is, and Santorum said it in the earlier debate that we're a nation of laws. Our humanity, our charity, our compassion comes from our laws.  And the fact is that, you know, we do have a bill of rights in this country. The fact that we have a -- society where nobody knows what's in the bill of rights doesn't mean --

KELLY: Well, you know, one of the reasons why we really like that debate was because it was substantive, you were learning things, they were using actual facts and real arguments to go back on each other. Let me ask you something else. So, Jeb Bush had a couple of moments that people pointed to, Donald Trump did obviously. Did anybody else have a moment that stood out in a negative way to any of you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hymns and hoarse.  

KELLY: Hymns and hoarse.  

(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the moment I thought you guys we're going to - - I can't believe you said that.

KELLY: Yes. Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Huckabee made a great point when he took the great Reagan saying trust but verify --  

KELLY: Do we have that cued up? Do we have time to play it? They're not answering me. All right. They never do. Anyway, we don't have it. But yes, keep going.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you know, the exchange that we're talking about with Paul and Christie, that's it. The balance of liberty and security and that Christie had to resort to emotion and insults told me he was losing on the facts. And that's why --

KELLY: That's the whole irony. Go ahead.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The irony here is that Christie should have been lecturing Rand Paul about the constitution and what our rights are but it was the other way around. Rand Paul was saying we had the constitution, you know, mass collection of privacy invasions of Americans and then Governor Christie is telling, well, no, we have to -- the constitution.  That's the whole point. Everyone's talking about the exchange.  

KELLY: I don't mean to be a downer but it's actually not a constitutional issue. There is no constitutional right that individuals have in their phone records. You might have a statutory right to the protection of them.  But sorry, getting a little legalistic to you. Sorry, sorry, I had to do it. I've got to go. To be continued. To be continued. Stand by.

KELLY: The primetime debate generated thousands of TV and print stories earlier today, each with a slightly different take on who won and who lost, but when it comes to the earlier debate, they're calling it the happy hour debate which is kind of fun. I don't know, I mean, do they feel happy?  One person is clearly standing out and she's definitely happy today.

Up next, our panel talks Carly Fiorina.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLY FIORINA, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi, she lies about e-mails, she's still defending Planned Parenthood and she is still her party's front-runner.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PATRICIA STARK, FOX NEWS AMERICA'S NEW HEADQUARTERS HOST: Live from America's news headquarters, I'm Patricia Stark. Convicted Colorado theater shooter James Holmes sentenced to life in prison without parole, the jury reaching their decision after deliberating for about 6 1/2 hours over the past two days. The verdict is a disappointment to prosecutors who had been seeking the death penalty. The same jury convicted Holmes of killing 12 people and wounding 70 others. In the July 2012 attack on a movie theater in Aurora.

A record breaking number of people turning in to the first GOP presidential debate on Fox News, an estimated 24 million people watched the primetime debate with the top 10 candidates. That the debate -- becoming the highest non-sport cable program of all time, the highest rated cable news program of all time and Fox News channel's most watched program ever. I'm Patricia Stark and now back to The Kelly File.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: I didn't get a phone call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race. Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn't. Maybe it's because I haven't given money to the foundation or donated to his wife's senate campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: One of the big stories from yesterday's debate was not on that 9:00 p.m. stage in Cleveland last night. Instead, she took part in the earlier 5:00 p.m. showdown. Carly Fiorina turned in such a great performance during the afternoon session, that some media outlets were dubbing her the big winner for the entire day. Here are few of the moments that won her some new fans, watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FIORINA: I am not a member of the political class. I am a conservative. I can win this job. I can do this job. I need your help. I need your support. I will, with your help and support lead the resurgence of this great nation. On day one in the oval office, I would make two phone calls. The first one would be to my good friend Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand at the state of Israel. The second would be to the supreme leader of Iran. He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message. Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi. She lies about e-mails. She is still defending Planned Parenthood and she is still her party's frontrunner. We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not poll punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring. Not trustworthy, no accomplishments. 2016 is going to be a fight between conservatism and a democrat party that is undermining the very character of this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Whew.

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We definitely have the best woman in candidacy.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After watching her, I came up that she's a combination of Goldwyn Mayer, Margaret Thatcher and Al Capone.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I vote for her every minute.

KELLY: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

KELLY: I pray. Who else like Carly?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's the man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, she was businesswoman, and now she has this great foreign policy presentation last night. So she's a total package, business and foreign policy -- and executive.

KELLY: She cuts with the precision of a surgeon.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She definitely did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She brings attention (ph) because she brings to the issues. She's exactly what we need. She answers the questions. She's not shy to go after Hillary.

KELLY: All right, let me ask you this. Why is she not higher in the polls?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she's a woman.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

KELLY: Go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because she instills leadership. She instills confidence in you. When I listen to her talk, I was like, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know she -- she made may be part of the solution. I'm across -- I'm on TV. I'm like -- I want to be part of the solution. I'm passionate about America. I want our candidates to be passionate.

KELLY: Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It came through.

KELLY: Wow. Wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the problem, though. The problem is in this country, we want a superstar. We want a rock star to be present. So who's getting all the attention right now? Trump, why? He's out there. He's saying what he has to say. It doesn't matter what he says. He assaulted John McCain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not other thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he's still doing well in the polls. Everybody wants a rock star. How do you think Barack Obama got elected?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Ben Carson was one of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He came out as a rock star. Everybody liked that about him, rah, rah, rah, everybody cheered, the same thing now going back to Bill Clinton. What did with Bill Clinton do the first time? He went on MTV, he played the saxophone. He was a rock star.

KELLY: You got a dazzled a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carly has.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was.

KELLY: That's modern day America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That she.

KELLY: And you say Carly is.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a smart businesswoman...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Megyn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like Trump. She knows what she's doing.

KELLY: Hold on. You're next.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She can do a lot of good, but.

KELLY: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She doesn't have the rock star attitude.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the 5 o'clock did her justice. She got --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump was sucking everything out from the 9 o'clock, and that's how she got to shine because it wasn't Trump, Trump, Trump, it was -- oh, who are these people around 5 o'clock? And she got more air time than she would have gotten.

KELLY: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she was really great because even though she doesn't have experience in office, she showed that she does have rapport with a lot of national leaders, and also that she has a plan. She waited all out. Day one, day two, you know, so we know exactly what she wants to do, and now we believed in her.

KELLY: She was ready with her (inaudible). Let me -- I want to switch gears and ask you about another candidate who is at the five and that is Governor Rick Perry who -- this may have been an opportunity for him to kind of redeem himself from a, you know, poor performance four years ago in these debates. Watch clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PERRY, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will tell you one thing, I would whole lot rather had Carly Fiorina over there doing our negotiations rather than John Kerry. Maybe we would have gotten a deal where we didn't give everything away, but the issue for us is to have a Congress that stands up that says, not only no, but hell no to this money going to the regime. That is going to use it for terror --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Who likes Rick Perry in this race? Oh, yeah, a few fans over here. Why? Do you think he can do it now? Was he is in fact that last time around - not so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's what I see with Rick Perry. You know, we got a lot of great candidates up there. We got businessmen, businesswomen and career politicians. Rick Perry is a career politician also. But there are only one or two that can actually say that they've done something, that they've lowered unemployment, that they have had stood up to Barack Obama. They stood up to the government. They can actually say that they've gone out and grabbed jobs from other states. Rick Perry has done that.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the guy has a track record.

KELLY: I got -- want to ask -- one last question because we haven't gotten to Ted Cruz. How many here like Ted Cruz?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I liked him as of last night.

KELLY: Wow. Wow, across the board. So he gets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like John Kasich.

KELLY: He.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's talking about him.

KELLY: John Kasich was a rock star there, but he had the home court advantage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's why you not -- that's why we don't hear so much about him?

KELLY: No, you tell me. You tell.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he -- I described moments as reaganesque from John Kasich. I think he's got -- you know, what you were talking about, a record and.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one thing that I took away from John Kasich's performance is that essentially, if he believes that God wants him to expand a government program, he will do it time and time again. And I don't care how good he was on other questions. That question for me just makes him a nonstarter.

KELLY: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: All right. I got to go. I got to go, my apologies for out of time. Great job, you guys. Thank you all so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more?

KELLY: Not quite.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: Ever wonder what it's really like for the candidates? Up next, we will ask Dr. Ben Carson about his very first debate experience and the reaction he's been getting since.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Well, last night marked Dr. Carson's first debate ever. And he is getting a lot of attention, much of it positive, due in part to moments like these.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARSON: If Hillary is the candidate, which I doubt. That would be dream comes true.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: But she counts on the fact that people are uninformed, the Alinsky model taking advantage of useful idiots. Well, I just happen to believe that people are not stupid. We have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it. When I take someone to the operating room, I'm actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin doesn't make them who they are, the hair doesn't make them who they are and it's time for us to move beyond that because.

(APPLAUSE)

CARSON: Well, I haven't said anything about me being the only one to do anything, so let me try that. I'm the only one to separate Siamese twins, the only.

(LAUGHTER)

CARSON: The only one to operate on babies while they were still in the mother's womb. The only one to take out half of a brain, although you would think if you go to Washington that someone had beat me to it, but.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Joining me now, retired pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Doctor, great to see you. Thank you so much for coming back on the show tonight. And so, what did you think about your own performance at last night's debate?

CARSON: I was -- I was very pleased with it. You know, obviously, you know, there was a lot of things to talk about and a lot of people there to try to talk about with them, so it makes it a little difficult.

KELLY: What did you think of the other candidates? Who stood out to you?

CARSON: Well, I thought -- I thought they were all pretty good. I was a little bit taken aback by the sharp exchange between Governor Christie and Senator Paul and that was a little surprising.

KELLY: How so?

CARSON: Well, I -- I really thought that perhaps, the lesson had been learned that we shouldn't be trying to tear each other down. You know, I thought that lesson was learned during the 2012 campaign, but apparently, it was not.

KELLY: You had a huge night on Facebook and online, where you amassed tons of new -- thousands and thousands of new followers on Twitter and people are following you on Facebook. Do you feel like you did it well.

CARSON: That's 250 -- 250,000.

KELLY: It's incredible and it.

CARSON: 250,000 new ones, yeah.

KELLY: Do you feel like you did as well on the debate stage? When that was something that you haven't - unlike these other guys, you haven't done that before. So you and Donald Trump are newcomers to the political scene in that way?

CARSON: Yeah. It was -- its good training and I'll be even more ready for the next one. But, you know, the good thing is in the meantime, I'm hoping that more people will begin to ask me, you know, about foreign policy and about economic policy, not just about medical things and just about racial things. I think that will be a very good thing.

KELLY: Although your stuff on medical policy last night, your line was terrific. And it was really one of the lines of the night about to half of the brain -- taking out half a brain and talking about what you had done and the others had not. On this subject, you know we began the debate -- each of us moderators had candidates that we were going to ask electability questions of, and I had you among others. And I asked you about, you know certain things that you had said and so on. Speak to that issue. You really have been studying up, but how do you do it? How does one study up on foreign policy to the point where you become facile with it and you feel like you can really step into that role of commander-in-chief?

CARSON: Well, you know someone like me who has had to acquire enormous amount of information over relatively short period of time. It's not -- it's not that difficult. You just give me the material. So I asked people, what is the stuff that I need to know? And they gave it to me. And then I had an opportunity to talk to a lot of people who were experts in those areas. You know, not just a couple of times, but many times and going into deep discussions. And, you know that's how you learn about anything. And some people like to think that this is something you can only acquire after years and years of political experience. But, you know, I hate to bust their bubble, but it really is not that tough to acquire this information.

KELLY: What did you make of Donald.

CARSON: Not to.

KELLY: Yes. Sorry, go ahead.

CARSON: No, I was just going to say not to mention the fact that you have the ability to surround yourself with people who have lived this stuff their entire lives, and what becomes really important is your judgment, the wisdom that you have to be able to utilize the information in a proper way. There are so many people in Washington who have been there for decades, and they don't seem to have very good judgment.

KELLY: What.

CARSON: And if you look at all of this experience of people in Congress, it's almost 9,000 years and where has it gotten us?

KELLY: Last question Dr. Carson. What do you make of Donald Trump saying he would not support the eventual nominee necessarily?

CARSON: I am very hopeful that he will reconsider that and recognize that if he decides to run a third party campaign, he basically will be giving the election to the progressives who will get two or three Supreme Court picks and his empire will collapse.

KELLY: Way to put it in economic terms that he, he would listen to. Dr. Carson, it's great to see you.

CARSON: You too. Thank you, Megyn.

KELLY: All the best to you.

Up next, the big story you haven't heard from last night, and how -- yours truly, almost did not make it to that debate at all.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: So check this out. We are in the arena right now because where the presidential candidates will stand tomorrow night. And look, they have their little marks, Rubio, Carson, Walker and so on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: So yesterday, it was the last day before the debate. We're all in the debate room preparing. Suddenly, I get a splitting headache. Then I start to feel nauseous. Then, nature took its course. I had to go back to the hotel room. I was in bed, in -- cold sweat. Nauseous and they enter Dr. David Silverman, the brilliant New York doctor who gave me some pill that cures nausea and a stomach virus and I made it on the air.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: Yay! For modern medicine!

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: So what do you think of last night's debate? Go to facebook.com/thekellyfile. Follow me on Twitter @megynkelly. Let me know what you think and thanks a lot to our amazing panel, you guys -- great job.

(APPLAUSE)

KELLY: I'm Megyn Kelly -- this is "The Kelly File." Goodnight.

(APPLAUSE)

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