Those who expected the Fox News moderators in the opening GOP debate to be shills for the Republican Party were met with swift disappointment as candidates were peppered with some of the most challenging questions thus far in the race.
The opening question — whether each would pledge to support the ultimate GOP nominee — exposed Donald Trump as the lone holdout on the stage, which was met with boos from the crowd.
Sen. Rand Paul took advantage of the opportunity to get in the first blow, suggesting that Trump was hedging his bets and saying that “he’s used to buying politicians.” (You can read the whole story and see the video here.)
Further questions prompted confrontation, often times severe, between the candidates. In particular, an exchange between Paul and Gov. Chris Christie quickly turned personal over intelligence gathering versus the right to privacy.
Christie suggested Paul never had the responsibility of protecting citizens from terror while “blowing hot air” in Senate committee meetings before Paul fired back that Christie was wiling to embrace big-government policies in the same way he hugged President Obama.
Unscientific polls and responses immediately after the close of the debate appeared to be all over the map in terms of who emerged victorious and who failed to improve their standing in the field.
However, a fairly consistent consensus has developed suggesting that none of the top tier candidates hurt themselves enough to fall back in the polls while none of the lower tier candidates did poorly enough to drop out of the top ten.
The next GOP debate, sponsored by CNN, is scheduled for September 16 at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.