The First prime time 2016 GOP Presidential candidate debate ("debate" used loosely) delivered entertainment, a lot of shade throwing, a LOT of Trump, but very little new information that voters could process to assess the 10 candidates that participated in Fox's produced spectacle.
There were cringe-worthy moments and gaffes of the kind that make for great television, but little substance. In fact, in the nearly three and a half hours of debating between the two events, there was virtually no mention of race issues, working families, and middle-class Americans at all.
To no surprise, Donald Trump was Fox's choice to lead off the "debate" .
Moderator Brett Baier's question while broad brushed in its presentation was for Trump and only Trump.
"Gentlemen, we know how much you love hand-raising questions. So we promise, this is the only one tonight: the only one. Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person."
Trump raised his hand. This surprised no one that had been following the Trump road show up to this point. Trump previously said he would consider running as an Independent of he didn't get the Republican nomination for President.
BAER: "Mr. Trump to be clear, you’re standing on a Republican primary debate stage."
TRUMP:" I fully understand."
BAIER: "The place where the RNC will give the nominee the nod. "
TRUMP: "I fully understand."
BAIER: "And that experts say an independent run would almost certainly hand the race over to Democrats and likely another Clinton. "
BAIER: "You can’t say tonight that you can make that pledge? "
TRUMP: I cannot say. I have to respect the person that, if it’s not me, the person that wins, if I do win, and I’m leading by quite a bit, that’s what I want to do. I can totally make that pledge. If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But — and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican. I want to run as the Republican nominee.
Fox was so consumed with keeping Trump in the spotlight they appeared to forget a few candidates that were standing in front of the moderators. Candidate, Ben Carson called them out on it.
The good doctor got the first formal question of the night from moderator Meghan Kelly and wasn't called on again for 40 minutes.
Note to self Trump was awarded almost three times more speaking time than the other candidates.
And so it went.
Jeb Bush smartly stayed away from witty one-liners and shade throwing, defended his call for a path to legal status for some of the people living in the U.S. illegally, an unpopular position among some Republican voters who equate legal status with amnesty.
Rand Paul said despite statements by Chris Christie that he would hold him responsible for a terrorist attack, he would continue to fight against mass U.S. surveillance. Paul also threw shade Christie's
Ohio Gov. John Kasich sought to raise his incoming low profile by striking an optimistic tone on the economy, saying all Americans need an opportunity to "share in this great American dream." He said that while he favored traditional marriage, he had recently attended a same-sex wedding and would support his children if they were gay.
Ben Carson suggested a brain surgeon is just what the White House needs.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the youngest candidate in the field at age 44, has tried to promote himself as a foreign policy authority, but has struggled to break through this summer. Trump's presence has not helped Rubio. He said the election "cannot be a resume competition." He also said this election should be about the future and not about the past.
Chris Christie pointed out his budget balancing highlights in New Jersey suggesting he could cure America's budget and deficit woes.
Mike Huckabee gave his description of the Military
Watch the shenanigans in their entirety.
There were two winners from this "roadshow". Sadly these two winners are not politicians and come showtime have little to offer when it comes to running a country. The two winners - Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly were the most post-debate topics everywhere you tuned in. Trump's curt accusatory response to Kelly's questions during the debate, and his outright bashing of her after the debate overshadowed the substance lacking debate itself.
Trump's post-debate relentless unapologetic berating of Kelly got her more exposure than her employer Fox could ever buy. And by ruthlessly attacking Kelly - Trump kept himself in the spotlight again.
Sooner or later these Republican candidates are going to have to rise above Trump's diversions and start speaking on how they plan to run this country. Hopefully, we'll see that in the next debate. Hopefully, the next debate will be a debate because this one certainly was not.