Thursday night, FOX gathered ten of the Republican party’s fourteen presidential nominees for their first primetime debate of the 2016 election season. As millions of eager Americans tuned into the two-hour debate, the onstage atmosphere was rife with tense excitement – and a healthy dose of incredible cockiness, if you count Donald Trump, of course. The famously loose-lipped billionaire businessman took center-stage at the debate, as he’s currently leading Republican primary polls; if nothing else, Trump’s mere presence certainly electrified the political stage, for better or for worse.
The debate, moderated chiefly by FOX anchor Megyn Kelly, allotted one minute for each candidate to answer questions directed at them, as well as an additional 30 seconds for follow-ups. Topics ranged from immigration, to economic policy, to abortion, and candidates soaked up the most of their minute in the limelight as hot-button questions bounced from podium to podium.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Trump dominated the stage, at least when it came to total speech time and outrageous comments. He had over 11 minutes of total time spent talking. Second chattiest was Jeb Bush, at just under 9 minutes, while most other contenders averaged just 6 or 7 minutes. Trump was also quickest to interrupt his fellow competitors as well as moderator Megyn Kelly – Trump is a zealot of no-holds-barred philosophy, and the debate stage proved no exception to his all-too-lovable vociferous nature.
First thing after the ten GOP candidates took the stage, they were asked to pledge their support to the Republican party, no matter which primary contender emerged victorious. Any objections? Trump, of course, waved his hand high, hinting that he might run third-party against a Republican if anyone else but him were to win.
Next, he dodged a slew of questions from moderator Kelly regarding past allegations of his blatant sexism – he countered that Americans were simply too “politically correct” about such things, and went on to defend his use of sexist slurs on social media.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” Kelly points out. “On your Twitter account, your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks.”
Trump replied with a smirk, “Only Rosie O’Donnell.” Moments later, after a smattering of incredulous gasps from the sizable Ohio audience, Trump adds, “What I say is what I say. And honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry.”
Although he was certainly the most controversial and sensational GOP candidate at the debate, Trump did not entirely overshadow the remaining nine. Rand Paul and Chris Christie duked it out over 9/11 and the merits of subsequent government surveillance. Mike Huckabee touted his ultra-conservative views on abortion. John Kasich, Governor of Ohio, emerged as an unlikely middle-of-the-road candidate with fairly moderate stances on issues from marriage equality to economic policy.
All in all, America got to know the Republican contenders for The White House a little bit better Thursday night, and watched their vision, their drive, and their occasional flat-out insanity unfold on the national stage. And folks, this is just the beginning.