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First GOP Debate: How Did the Candidates Fare?

By Donna Russell and David Brody

The Republican presidential candidates took on the issues, the Democrats, and each other Thursday night,

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz may have faired the best in the first GOP debate heading into the 2016 Presidential campaigning.

Fox News insider Frank Luntz reported that both of them saw huge spikes in “reaction meters” for comments on Iran and terrorism.

Huckabee responded to a question about the Iran deal saying in part, “we got nothing.” He went on to say, “We couldn’t even get four hostages released.”

He was referring to American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abadini who’s being held in an Iranian prison for his faith… as well as at least three other American prisoners there.

Huckabee said that Republican President Ronald Reagan always said “trust but verify,” whereas President Barack Obama “trusts and vilifies.” Huckabee was referring to the president comparing opponents of the Iran nuclear deal with Islamic radicals.

Cruz really connected with voters when he went after the president for his unwillingness to call ISIS and other groups like radical Islamic terrorists. He told the audience the President won’t even recognize that in fighting ISIS, “we are fighting radical Islamic terrorists.”

The top ten candidates spoke passionately on issues like unemployment, national security, Obamacare and even “took off the gloves” with each other in the Fox News/Facebook sponsored event in Cleveland, Ohio.

The recent videos released exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling the body parts of babies also came up. Several of the candidates said they would support and fight for defunding the abortion provider.

Gay marriage was also discussed with Ohio Gov. John Kasich saying that he supports traditional marriage but respects the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. He even told the audience he went to wedding of a gay friend because he believes in loving and supporting people even if you may have different view-points.

The man who was supposed to be the star of the night, Donald Trump, came into the debate leading in the polls, was hit hard with questions and commentators are grading him harshly for how he handled it.

One focus group had a majority of participants who said they went in supporting him but aren’t after this debate. One observer said he didn’t handle himself well and did not come across “presidential.”

Trump received boos from the audience off the top. A moderator asked the candidates to raise their hand if they would not support the eventual republican nominee. Trump was the only candidate who raised his hand saying he wouldn’t commit to it. Senator Rand Paul accused Trump of already “hedging his bets” on the election if he’s not the nominee.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who came into the debate second in the polls, defended his stand on illegal immigration and a statement he made saying it was “an act of love.”

Bush said America needs to control its borders but find solutions for people who come here wanting to provide for their families, “There should be a path to earn legal status,” Bush said.

Sen. Rand Paul and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exchanged words in the debate over national security and the NSA and data mining of everyday citizens verses potential terrorists.

Ben Carson, who is a conservative favorite, didn’t seem to get much time but stole the show with his closing statement. He talked about some of the things he’s done as a surgeon like separate siamese twins.

He also said he’s removed half a brain then joked that if you visit Washington, “you may not think I was the first to do that.” He also went on to say, “Freedom is not free and we must fight for it everyday… we’re fighting for our children and the next generation.”

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also talked about the future. He said if he was the Republican nominee Hillary Clinton couldn’t lecture him about some of the issues Democrats usually use to attack Republicans.

“If I’m our nominee, how is Hillary Clinton going to lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck,” he said.

There was a second-tier candidate debate before the prime-time debate. The one who probably made the biggest splash of the evening is the only female GOP candidate: Carly Fiorina.

“On day one in the Oval Office, I would make two phone calls,” she said. “The first one would be to my good friend, Bibi Netanyahu, to reassure him we will stand with the State of Israel.”

“The second will be to the supreme leader of Iran,” she continued. “He might not take my phone call, but he would get the message, and the message is this: Until you open every nuclear and every military facility to full, open, anytime, anywhere, for real inspections, we are going to make it as difficult as possible for you to move money around the global financial system.”

Fiorina, according to some political commentators, may see a surge from her one to two percent standing in the polls after the debate.

Report via CBN News


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