The Winner Of The GOP Debate

by April Siese

The GOP debate offered a little bit of everything for viewers. Candidates sparred on important issues almost as much as they verbally attacked each other for simply being themselves. Republican front-runner Donald Trump took to calling fellow candidate Marco Rubio "Little Marco" and defended the size of his hands, among other things. Rubio, for his part, acknowledged that his jabs were entirely petty but completely akin to what the Donald has had to say all election season long. Ted Cruz and John Kasich offered some of the few sobering critiques of a truly troubling GOP field. As noble as it would be to dub either candidate the best onstage, the winner of the GOP debate appears to be the journalists questioning the candidates rather than the presidential hopefuls themselves.

Moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly, and Chris Wallace came prepared for the Thursday night event held at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Clips of contradictory remarks that Trump had given in interviews as well as mathematical proof calling into question his proposed economic policies served as explicit accountability. The candidate has done much to alienate himself within his own party and thus the focus of many Republicans has been just how to thwart the front-runner rather than how to combat a presidential nominee on the left.

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The exchanges between Kelly and Trump were especially heated, with The Kelly File host calling his covert interview with The New York Times into question as well as the lawsuit filed against Trump University. Kelly served as a diplomatic presence, reigning in a debate that had consistently gone off the rails. At one point, she interrupted a verbal spat between candidates by simply stating that "the audience cannot understand when you're talking over each other." Likewise, Wallace's take charge demeanor and similar tactics of culling previous campaign media to quiz candidates certainly paid off in droves. His questions regarding Vladimir Putin's kind words about Trump opened up a fascinating dialogue about how the Donald's fellow candidates few the party front-runner. A final question of whether those onstage would back Trump was especially revelatory.

Baier was similarly impressive in his quest for the truth among candidates who have made their opinions frequently known and yet have also contradicted themselves considerably. The journalist delved into Cruz's opinion regarding Edward Snowden's NSA leaks and grilled Kasich on his stance on religious freedom. Baier's crafting of a question on such a tenuous subject was simply masterful, as was Kasich's nuanced, informed response. For as many times that both Kasich and Cruz attempted to be the voices of reason, no one candidate was able to mitigate the many spats breaking out onstage like the GOP debate moderators.