Who Talked The Most At The GOP Debate? The Sixth Showdown Had The Top Usual Suspects

Thursday night's GOP debate was a wild ride, and the candidates came out swinging in one of the most intense and entertaining debates of this election season so far. At the end of the night, when the watches were stopped and the seconds were counted, the talking times from the Republican debate were very revealing.

Unsurprisingly, Ted Cruz came in first with 18 minutes and three seconds. It was a fairly decisive lead over Trump, who finished the night with 17 minutes and eight seconds of talking time. The two candidates ate up a somewhat significant portion of that time during a squabble early on in the night regarding Cruz's disputed eligibility for president. But Cruz came out on top of the catfight, and ultimately came out on top for talking time too.

Next in line was Chris Christie, who ended the debate with 14 minutes and 25 seconds. Not all of that time was spent talking about Hillary Clinton, but it certainly felt like it. Other than the great "Story Time with Barack Obama" line at the beginning of the debate, Christie didn't have any especially memorable moments for the rest of the night. However, he did have a long-winded but intriguing section on tax reform that is worth a second look.

Rubio, Bush, and Kasich rounded out the middle of the pack, with 14 minutes and 14 seconds, 12 minutes and 40 seconds, and 12 minutes and 24 seconds, respectively. Bush gave Donald Trump a strong slam on his anti-Muslim policy, but failed to shine the way he needed to in order to get a big boost in the polls. Kasich fielded a tough question about police violence and tried to point to his record as governor of Ohio, but the response felt hollow without an acknowledgement of the Tamir Rice case that has dominated the media throughout the past year. Meanwhile, Rubio ripped into Ted Cruz for his Senate voting record, and managed to turn the audience on his opponent in lightning speed.

And last but maybe not least, Dr. Ben Carson logged only eight minutes and 25 seconds of talk time during the entire two and a half hour debate. Carson's campaign is in pretty major trouble, and he was never a stellar debater even at his peak, so without the right leadership and guidance, the fledgling politician simply might not have known what to say.

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Interestingly, the top four speakers on Thursday night — Cruz, Trump, Rubio, and Christie — were also the top four for the Dec. 15 debate, albeit in a slightly different order. Still, the consistency shows who is staying on top of the pack and who is getting more questions. It's a signal of a higher tier forming within the top tier, which will probably become even more apparent in future debates.

Thursday night's debate managed to run half an hour over the originally scheduled time, and the candidates used up every second they had and then some. The competition got extremely fierce at some points, but the savagery didn't change anything substantial — the talking times prove that the gap is widening between those who have staying power and those who don't.