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GOP Debate Post-Mortem: Trump Top, Fiorina Flourish, Carson Crumbles

While Lindsay Graham was a clear winner in the undercard (like being the tallest midget?), the main event was a mosh-pit of anatagonistic self-abuse for The GOP as candidates ran rough-shod over each other and the moderators. Fiorina stood up to Trump (though not too aggressively) and Trump replied how beautiful Fiorina's face was, Paul was bowled over (by Trump), and Trump was ironically dismissed as "a great entertainer" as the debate took place in great entertainer Ronald Reagan's library. It was clear that "the rest" of the GOP field was not about to let Trump dominate... and he didn't but the night was, in one word, chaos. Trump spoke the most as expected and in most polls was voted as 'winner' with Fiorina gaining most.

The top searched candidates from tonight's

: 1) 2) 3)

— Google Politics (@googlepolitics)

CNN's Jeff Zeleny seemed to confirm social media's view that Graham was the undercard winner

Sen. Lindsey Graham had the strongest performance of any candidate in the first debate. Graham topped the talk-time...

  • Graham: 19:47
  • Santorum: 15:38
  • Jindal: 13:06
  • Pataki: 10:58

From start to finish, his one-liners delighted the crowd, his command of policy was unmatched, particularly on national security and foreign policy. He exuded substance. And he shows that experience pays. The question is whether voters want that experience. And, of course, whether he will ever be able to debate the full field.

But the bookies sum it all up... Odds to suspend/end campaign by Nov. 1

George Pataki

  • Odds pre-debate: 40%
  • Odds post-debate: 55%

Lindsey Graham

  • Odds pre-debate 42%
  • Odds post-debate 42%

Rick Santorum

  • Odds pre-debate: 34%
  • Odds post-debate: 40%

Bobby Jindal

  • Odds pre-debate: 33%
  • Odds post-debate: 40%

So Pataki is gone? Which is somewhat comical given Trump's later comment that

"Pataki wouldn't be elected dog-catcher right now"

*  *  *

The main event started with what felt like an hour of introductions then the big one hit...

The first heads-up was Fiorina vs Trump as she positioned him as a "great entertainer," which is ironic given the debate was being held in Ronald Reagan's (an entertainer) library, but declined to answer if Trump was "qualified" to put his finger on the nuclear button:


Then Trump began...


Which the eye surgeon swung at...


Carson came across quiet again...

Retired Neurosurgeon Ben Carson was surging in the polls coming into Wednesday night’s debate, but he has done little this evening to draw voters to his candidacy. He has had few, if any, memorable statements.

But actually spoke more than last time and managed some good points...

Carson: It's time for the government to get out of the way and let the people decide how they want to run their country

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour)

Carson: Our children will have no future if we put our heads in the sand

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour)

Bush had more of a presence that last time but his most notable moment was to Trump's negativity on his brother...

“Your brother’s administration gave us Barack Obama because the last 3 years were such a disaster.”


“It was such a disaster those last few months that Abraham Lincoln couldn’t have been elected,” Trump says at CNN’s Republican presidential debate


Bush opened back-and-forth by saying of Trump: “The lack of judgment and lack of understanding about how the world works is really dangerous”

Bush: My brother kept us safe

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour)

or put another way...

Here's a quick recap of that Trump/Jeb exchange.

— daveweigel (@daveweigel)

But disappointed his mum...

Sorry Mom

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush)

Jeb: I smoked weed 40 years ago


Trump and Cruz were the most "uncivil" according to US News...

Everyone except for

and is being pretty civil right now

— U.S. News (@usnews)

*  *  *


Donald Trump summed it all it in 7 seconds

I think Trump just did all the emoji faces in 7 seconds.

— Jason Mustian (@jasonmustian)

Responding to Paul, Trump pounded him with "I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”

But Paul made some good points...

Rand Paul: There will always be a Bush or Clinton for you if you want to go back to Iraq

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour)

Mid way through, CNN re-ignited the Trump-Fiorina battle...

Fiorina responds to Trump: "I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said"

— New York Post (@nypost)

The only thing Kasich said was:


Trump added:


For a brief moment, there was some agreement with Trump...

“We are the only ones dumb enough, stupid enough” to offer citizenship to babies born in U.S. to parents here illegally “and we take care of the baby for 85 years,” Donald Trump.


Trump says 14th amendment says birthright citizenship “is not correct and in my opinion it makes absolutely no sense”


Rand Paul says “I hate to admit it but Mr. Trump has a point here” and says there’s never been a “direct supreme court case” on children born to immigrants in the U.S. illegally


Carly Fiorina says you “cant just wave your hands and say the 14th amendment is going to go away.” “It will take an extremely arduous vote in congress” and “a long arduous process in court”

Politico offers some inisght with Trump's 7 most memorable debate lines...

1. First words: “I’m Donald Trump. I wrote the art of the deal. I say not in a braggadocious way. I’ve made billions and billions of dollars.”


2. Asked to respond to Carly Fiorina: “First of all, Rand Paul shouldn’t even be on this stage. He’s number 11.”


3. On himself: “Believe me. My temperament is very good, very calm.”


4. On Paul: “I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”


5. On George Pataki: “He wouldn’t be elected dog-catcher right now.”


6. On his multiple bankruptcies: “People are very, very, impressed with what I’ve done. The business people.”


7. A left-handed compliment to Jeb Bush: “More energy tonight. I like that.”

Trump and Bush managed the handshake that Trump and Carson didn't...

Ever-ready gives Humble some skin.

— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller)

And here is CNN's protracted way of adding to ad revenues... POTUS nicknames...


— drew olanoff (@drew)

*  *  *


As expected, Trump spoke most... more than Paul, Walker, & Huckabee combined

Two hours in, who has spoken the longest?

— Post Politics (@postpolitics)

Quite different allocations that last time...

*  *  *

Polls suggested trump was the clear winner...

But the big surge by Fiorina and plunge for Carson was most notable.

As CNN notes, the second Republican debate was supposed to be the one where candidates like Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and other would-be frontrunners ganged up on Trump.

But Trump's greatest antagonist on Wednesday night was Carly Fiorina. Fiorina, who got into the main event at the 11th hour, was aggressive and concise in taking on Trump.


She countered his attacks against her business acumen, challenged his remarks about her appearance, and demonstrated her knowledge of foreign policy -- a slight against Trump's inability to cite specifics in a recent Meet The Press interview.


No one on stage Wednesday night showed as much passion, nor demonstrated as much poise, as Fiorina -- which could yield major results among Republicans who don't support Donald Trump.

And as Google Politics shows, search interest in Fiorina and Trump soared...

Take a look at how

search interest for & spiked over the past 1.5 hours →

— Google Politics (@googlepolitics)

We are all winners though...

Let's all agree on this: we all won for having watched this CNN debate.

— Chris Ciaccia (@Chris_Ciaccia)

*  *  *

The final results of

's bingo:

— Polly Mosendz (@polly)

Finally, this excellent tweet summed up the circus perfectly...


The questions being asked at this debate versus the answers

— sam (@samlabell)