The easiest prediction to make going in to Thursday’s first 2016 presidential debate was that Donald Trump would take the spotlight.
That was true from the start, when he was the sole candidate not to pledge to support the GOP nominee, no matter what, or to not run as a third party candidate. It drew a combination of cheers and boos.
And while Trump’s exchanges may go into the annals of primary politics, it wasn’t the only memorable moment from the event, often boosted by the direct, tough questions asked by the trio of Fox debate moderators. Other candidates proved that they too could spar or serve as an alternative to Trump’s bombast.
Trump slams Rosie: If there were any doubt that Trump would shrink from his persona in the name of debate decorum, he quickly dispelled them as Kelly challenged some of his comments. “You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account…”
“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Trump interjected.
That started an extended back and forth in which Trump attacked political correctness and Kelly herself.
“Honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ve been very nice to you although I probably could maybe not be based on the way you’ve been to me.”
Rosie O’Donnell’s Twitter response to Trump: “try explaining that 2 ur kids.”
Trump on Hillary Clinton coming to his wedding: Trump’s method of attack on money in politics is to point out how he had played the game. This time, though, he was pressed for what he got in return for donating to the Clinton Foundation.
“Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding, and she came to my wedding,” he said. “She had no choice because I gave to a foundation.”
“When they call, I give,” Trump said of politicians hitting him up. “And you know what, when I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them. They are there for me.”
For her part, Clinton’s feelings apparently were hurt by the idea that she was invited only for that reason.
Trump on bankruptcy: When Chris Wallace grilled Trump on having his companies declare bankruptcy four times, Trump initially was defensive. He at first denied that he himself went bankrupt. Then he noted that “out of the hundreds of deals I have done, on four occasions I’ve taken advantage of the laws of this country.” Then he just went ahead and took on lenders. “These lenders aren’t babies. These lenders are total killers.” That drew some cheers.
Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul: Sparring wasn’t exclusive to Trump, as was proven by the exchange between Chris Christie and Rand Paul, over Paul’s opposition to government surveillance programs and Christie’s support. When Paul said that he “will continue to stand for the Bill of Rights,” Christie shot back, “That’s a completely ridiculous answer.” Soon it became somewhat personal, as Paul attacked Christie for hugging President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. “If you want to give him a big hug again, go right ahead.”
John Kasich on gay marriage: Ohio Gov. John Kasich took the mantle of the anti-Trump. Instead, he offered a more compassionate tone, even when it came to trying to understand Trump’s tone. When asked about the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage, he said that while he himself was “traditional,” he had recently attended a gay friend’s wedding. And asked how he would explain his position if a children came out to him, he said, “I’m going to love my daughters no matter what they do. Because you know what? God gives me unconditional love.” It drew loud applause in the audience — a surprise given some of the jeers in a 2011 debate when a gay serviceman asked a question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Of all the candidates, Kasich may have gained the most from the debate, as he outlined his Morning in America-like vision for the country.
“Restore the sense that the miracle will apply to you,” he said. “Lift everybody. Unite everybody.”
Ben Carson’s closing statement: He was all but ignored for the first half hour of the debate, but he managed to deliver the best line in the closing moments of the event. The pediatrician and surgeon said he was “the only one to separate Siamese twins, the only one to operate on babies while they were still in their mother’s womb, the only one to take out half a brain, although you would think if you went to Washington that someone had beat me to it.”
Carly Fiorina trumps Trump: The only woman GOP candidate didn’t made it to the main event, but she stood out at the pre-debate of the seven candidates who didn’t make the cut. “I never got a call from Bill Clinton before I jumped in the race,” she said, when asked about Donald Trump’s ascendance, a dig that referred to reports that the real estate’s mogul chatted with the 42nd president about the race in May. The former Hewlett Packard CEO went on to say that Trump had “changed his mind” on health care, immigration and abortion. Up against four current and former governors, the 2012 campaign’s runner up and a Senate foreign affairs hand, Fiorina seemed determined to show foreign policy expertise, noting that she was friends with Benjamin Netanyahu. When asked about the Iran deal, she said, “I would hold a Camp David summit with our Arab allies, not to talk them into this lousy deal with Iran, but to say to them, ‘what is it that you need to defeat ISIL?'”