Ten Republican presidential candidates on stage in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015.
The candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination for president met in Cleveland, Ohio, on Thursday, August 6, to take part in the first of several debates. Because there are so many candidates in the field, they were divided into two groups. The top 10, ranked by their average standings in the polls leading up to the event, faced off in primetime. Business tycoon Donald Trump, who led in the polls, was joined by Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich on the main stage. Candidates in the “second tier” at the time—Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum—staged their “Happy Hour” debate earlier that afternoon.
Given so many participants, the format was less a debate than a sequence of opening statements, followed by closing statements—with a few questions for each candidate sprinkled in. The two-hour debate, hosted by Fox News and Facebook, was moderated by Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace. About 24 million Americans viewed the debate, a record for a primary-debate audience.
As with many political debates, it’s impossible to say who “won.” Political spin takes over in the aftermath, as rival candidates make their case for how well they fared. No one, apparently, had a particularly poor showing in the debate. Carson, Fiorina, and Rubio clearly performed well. Trump, whose earlier surge in the polls owed largely to his frank “nonpolitician” comments, may have hurt his chances by not ruling out a run as an independent if he fails to get the Republican nomination.
It will be months before any actual voters get to weigh in: the Iowa caucuses will be held on February 1, followed by the New Hampshire Primary eight days later. The next scheduled debate will be on September 16.
Image credit: © MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
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