The top 10 Republican presidential candidates came together Thursday night for the first GOP debate of the 2016 election season, hosted by Fox News. While some had reservations about how a debate with 10 (10!) participants would work, these Republican candidates ended up delivering what they promised. Donald Trump, the inexplicable frontrunner, was his normally cocky self. Jeb Bush played the part of the polished, serious politician. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky rallied his defiant libertarians, while Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas flaunted his Tea Party status. But for all the comments about defunding Planned Parenthood and taking agency away from rape victims, there were some surprisingly optimistic moments from the first GOP presidential debate. Does that mean we should keep our chins up for the future? Well, let's take it slow.
Thursday's debate kicked off with some fiery comments from Donald Trump and a very vocal beef between Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Rand Paul. While most things went downhill from there, it wasn't all that bad. The debate offered us some positive glimpses, including a look into the softer sides of certain candidates. But there's also another side to this optimism: Having 10 of the 17 GOP candidates gathered together onstage revealed just how weak the field is — which the Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders camps are surely cheering.
Here's a look at the most uplifting things to come from Thursday's GOP presidential debate…
Megyn Kelly Calls Out Donald Trump's Sexism
Let's give Megyn Kelly some props for asking the tough questions and keeping her cool. As the only woman on the moderating team, Kelly was in charge of asking the "women's issues" questions — an awkward task when your respondents are 10 men. Her best moment happened early on, when she made Donald Trump double-down on his misogynist views.
"You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals," Kelly said. "You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?"
Never one to apologize, Trump dug his heels in and owned it. "I've been challenged by so many people, and I don't frankly have time for total political correctness," he shot back at Kelly. "And honestly, Megyn, if you don't like it, I'm sorry."
Why do we see this as optimistic? For starters, we need to thank Kelly for continuing to call out the blatant sexism of these conservative politicians, and for not giving them any slack just because they're members of the GOP. But we also hope the rest of America took notice: Ladies and gents, this man may be the next president. If you respect women, you can't let this stand.
Jeb Bush's Antiwar Stance
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush reaffirmed his antiwar position Thursday night, distancing himself from his brother in what will surely lead to an awkward Thanksgiving dinner later this year. Bush has been dragged over the hot coals in the past for his vague comments about former President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in the early 2000s, but the younger Bush has solidified his position. The war in Iraq was the wrong move, Bush said. And he seems pretty sincere about it, too.
"[The war in Iraq] was a mistake," Bush said. "I wouldn't have gone in."
Gov. John Kasich's LGBTQ Acceptance
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has emerged over the last month as one of the most moderate GOP candidates when it comes to LGBTQ issues, including same-sex marriage. Following the Supreme Court's landmark decision legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states in June, Kasich said he would accept that the ruling was the law of the land even though he personally believes in "traditional" marriage.
On Thursday, Kasich not only reiterated his acceptance of the Supreme Court's decision, but also declared that LGBTQ Americans should be treated equally. "Because somebody doesn't think the way I do doesn't mean I can't care about them or that I can't love them," Kasich said. "We need to give everybody a chance, treat everybody with respect, and let them share in this great American dream that we have."
The Ohio governor added that he would love his daughters if they were gay, because that's just the right thing to do. "I'm gonna love them no matter what they do," Kasich said.
The Candidates Were Exposed On Women's Issues
What do you get when you bring 10 men on stage and ask them about abortion? Some strange, demoralizing responses that leave women out of the equation. Pregnant women shouldn't be allowed to have an abortion when their lives are in danger? Check. Victims of rape and incest should be denied abortions? Check. Women need men with no medical experience to make decisions about their reproductive health? Check.
Why talk about women at all? It's not like they're important when they're pregnant, right?
How is this a good thing? Considering the majority of Americans consistently oppose full abortion bans (i.e., with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the mother's life), these responses will surely generate some backlash — and it's about time.