It was the night political junkies and reality TV fans had been waiting for. The first televised debate of the 2016 presidential race is in the books. Billionaire businessman and former “The Apprentice” star Donald Trump led a field of 10 Republican POTUS candidates as determined by a survey of national polls: ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Only Huckabee has experience on the presidential-hopeful debate stage, having run in 2008.
Fox News’ Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace moderated the event at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. Here’s how we saw it:
With Donald Trump spending seven years as host of NBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ franchise – and claiming he banked more than $200 mil in the process — the only candidate who can claim more screen time is Mike Huckabee. The former Arkansas governor had his own Fox News show for more than six years before exiting in January.
A pumped-up audience will be watching this hijacked race to become the GOP presidential nominee to watch the top nine other also-runnings – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey, Zeppo and Piglet – is able to toss Donald Trump out of the boardroom. Ratings are expected to be huge — Fox News exec Jay Wallace has been quoted calling tonight’s debut “unlike any other debate” – ever.
Tonight’s event is being held at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena – also the site of the 2016 Republican National Convention in July. It’ll be the first time the city has hosted the GOP confab since Kansas Gov. Alf Landon was nominated to get trounced by incumbent President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.
During this afternoon’s undercard debate for the bottom seven GOP candidates – let’s call it the kids table – candidates hoped for a breakout or viral moment. No such luck. The general consensus is that none of them did enough to boost their candidacy to the next level.
The not ready for primetime players in the B-debate were Texas Gov. Perry and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania – both of whom also ran in 2012 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, former New York Gov. George Pataki and ex-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, who ran in 2008.
Fox News’ Chris Wallace, one of the moderators of the main event tonight, called the B-debate for Carly Fiorina. A Twitter poll during Greta Van Susteren’s show gave Fiorina a mandate: 84% said she won the debate. Everyone else was in single digits.
Looking ahead, CNN will host GOP Debate 2: The Sequel on September 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee release the schedule for its debates today: The first will be October 13 in Nevada, hosted by CNN. Primary season starts February 1 with the Iowa caucuses, followed the New Hampshire primary on February 9.
Donald Trump’s Debate Debut screams for a drinking game.
Every time Trump says “excuse me?”
Every time Trump says “disgusting”?
Any time Megyn makes an awkward joke?
Attention, candidates who want to shout at the devil: After crews pack up the Quicken Loans Arena in the wake of tonight’s debate, the venue’s next event will be a concert by Motley Crue and Alice Cooper. Might one of the debaters channel “No More Mr. Nice Guy” onstage?
Megyn on Carly Fiorina during the kids’ table debate: ” Boy, she unleashed a can!” Happy drinking…..
Caption contest for the Trump chairs photo below — leave yours in the comments section.
Bret Baier tries to get Trump to pledge he won’t run as indie if he doesn’t get this nomination. He refuses. Audience boos. Big fat set-up. This may be best line of the night and it’s just getting started: Trump: “If I’m the nominee I pledge I won’t run as an independent.”
Marco Rubio sounds like a political automaton. He’s underscoring Trump’s appeal.
Megyn asks Trump about speaking his mind, including calling women “fat pigs, dogs and disgusting animals.” “Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump snaps back, dinging her good. He says the big problem in this country is “being politically correct” and that he doesn’t have time for political correctness and neither does the country. What a gaffe to try to take on Trump over political correctness before this crowd. Trump cut her off at the knees, using humor, which she can’t handle.
So far, Trump is the lead singer, and the other candidates are just singing back-up: shoo-bop, shoo-bop.
So the first commercial of the Republican debate is for a Steven Spielberg movie.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich: We’re all Donald Trumps.
Trump may be the first candidate since the Tammany Hall days run on bragging about how much money’s he’s handed out to politicians and how much he’s gotten for it.. Hillary came to his wedding, he boasted. She had to. He’s given her that much money, he crowd. That was the biggest “pass” for Trump of the evening.
Meryl Streep just came out and begged us for our support, for ‘Ricki & the Flash’. She’s running on her record.
Jeb Bush’s “strategery” is being the anti-Trump.
Trump on his companies’ Chapter 11 filings: “Out of hundreds of deals I’ve made — hundreds — on four occasions I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country.”
Trump makes a play for the very large bankrupt-American votes. “Four times I’ve taken advantage of the laws and so has everybody else in my position…. When somebody else uses those laws, its’ ‘Trump Trump Trump’. “…Guaranteeing he won’t carry New Jersey, he said, “every company in Atlantic City went bankrupt” and he bragged that he made a lot of money as Atlantic City cratered.
Trump goes medieval on Jeb Bush: “Given all the horror that’s going on, we don’t have time for tone…When people are cutting off Christians heads off, it’s medieval times.”
Trump on Obama: “We have a president who doesn’t have a clue. I would say he’s incompetent, but I don’t want to do that because that’s not nice.”
Trumps investment advise: “Buy Iran: it’s going to quadruple.”
Not breaking news: Most candidates dodging most questions and going on tirades.
Huckabee: “A lot of the B-52s we’re flying … the fact is most of them are older than me. And that’s pretty scary.”
Moderator Megyn Kelly deftly going to commercial: “After the break, we’re gonna let the candidates make their closing statements, final thoughts. And — God. Stay tuned for that.”
Way to name-check the tour stop, Gov. Kasich. Cleveland rocks!
Rubio on Divine partisan politics: “God has blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates — the Democrats can’t even find one.” (Grin during applause)
Closing statements — 30 seconds. GO!
Looks like Trump has retained his position as America’s Anger Translator. Otherwise this played like a bad early episode of American Idol: too many people to keep track of and not enough talent.
Fox closes the show with Donald Trump. Betting it was in his contract
Very subdued wrapup from Trump. Really?
Christie now adding to his hugs count.
Moderators’ ad-lib commenting on the candidates’ post-debate interaction with one another and their families is kinda weird.
That’s a wrap for the debate. Tell us what you thought were the top moments.