It was feisty, opinionated, cluttered. There were moments we just shook our heads, and we learned pretty much nothing from it. So it perfectly lived up to the hype and, undoubtedly, Fox’s ratings expectations.
The real stars were the Fox moderators, Megyn Kelly in particular, who came out swinging and set a combative tone.
Frank Bruni at the New York Times says it wasn’t a debate, it was “an inquisition.”
They [the moderators] took each of the 10 Republicans onstage to task. They held each of them to account. They made each address the most prominent blemishes on his record, the most profound apprehensions that voters feel about him, the greatest vulnerability that he has.
It was riveting. It was admirable. It compels me to write a cluster of words I never imagined writing: hooray for Fox News.
Did Fox take this combative approach because it was theatrical? Because it promised tension, promoted unease and was a certain route to reddened faces and raised voices?
Of course. Nothing scares a network more than the prospect of a political snooze-fest, and candidates left to their own devices are candidates who drone on and on.
We’ll do it all again at the Reagan Library in California on September 16, where hosts CNN will use a slightly different selection format. In the meantime, before you switch over to watch the final Daily Show, here’s some Twitter highlights of the evening.
10.40 – A ‘special guest’…
Megyn Kelly just said God would be a special guest on the next session of the debate. I guess they had to one-up Springsteen on The Daily Show.
The Ohio Governor, who just scraped into the top tier ranking for tonight’s debate, has been getting plenty of favorable buzz each time he speaks, but that could be because he has got out the troops in the hall.
(I must say, I’m very impressed by that Bish guy..)
10.20 – Social issues
Cleverly, Fox manages to get footage in of Carly Fiorina in from the earlier debate – and Rick Perry too – and the crowd cheered broadly at the clip.
10pm – Here come the ‘mini-rounds’
Until now, no two candidates seem to have been asked the same question. Even if their answers sound like it.
Angry exchange between Chris Christie and Rand Paul over surveillance, Christie invokes 9/11, Paul uses Christie’s hugging of President Obama.
9.30 – ‘Our leaders are stupid’
Phew.. a commercial.
To cheers, Trump punches back, saying he’s not bound by “political correctness.”
Marco Rubio gives the HRC campaign an ad soundbite – “If this is a resume contest, Hillary Clinton is going to be our next President.”
Donald Trump declines to pledge not to run as an independent. First question. In the real world, everything from here is just talk. Rand Paul tries to push back, linking Trump to the Clintons, Trump brushes him off.
9PM – ‘Positioned on the stage by their standing in the polls…’
Here’s live updates from the Washington Post.
8PM – The Big Ten in the Big Tent
We’re ready to rock and roll, as long as the performers can find their way to the stage.
And already it’s something of a circus.
Here are some of your requisite bingo cards/drinking games. I mean really, does everyone still do this?
7PM – Tales from the Kids Table
Carly Fiorina was widely thought to have clearly come out on top of the early kick-off “happy hour” debate – despite every other candidate saying they had – in part by aggressively targeting Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness.
By the end of the night, though, and apart from a Twitter and search bump for Fiorina, it’s not really going to matter. And talking of happy hours, apparently some of the undercard participants are heading out to dinner together to watch the main event.
6PM – Eyes on the Prize
Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
Ann Simmons at the Los Angeles Times writes:
The 1965 legislation is a point of contention in many red states after the Supreme Court decided two years ago to do away with a key part: the requirement that states with a history of racial discrimination clear any changes to their voting laws with the federal government.
On Wednesday, a panel of federal appeals judges rendered an important interpretation of that decision, ruling that Texas’ voter identification law violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against black and Latino voters.
The issue is shaping up to be a flashpoint in the current presidential race.
And so, tonight in Cleveland, the latest iteration of the ‘best our democracy has to offer’ take their cases to the American public.
Later, Jon Stewart bids farewell.