The topic of faith dominated the final minutes of the first GOP primary presidential debate hosted by Fox News Thursday night. At the end of the rousing two-hour debate that saw candidates trade searing insults, at least one thing was clear: If there is a God, he had blessed America with its most colorful debate in recent history.
“I am blessed to receive the word of God every day,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, who cited his father’s recovery from alcoholism through the help of Jesus. “We see lots of campaign conservatives but if we are going to win in 2016 we need a consistent conservative.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said his faith and family were most important to him. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said his Christian faith helped him "be decent going forward" when protesters were trying to boot him out of office.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was asked about "God and the veterans." He said God has blessed the United States. "He has blessed us with young men and women willing to die in uniform," he said, noting that the Veterans Affairs Department hasn't done enough to care for the veterans.
Dr. Ben Carson said the bully pulpit "is a wonderful place" to start healing the nation and incidents "between people of two races."
The debate also featured Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Chris Christie. The candidates with low poll numbers who didn't make the cut were Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Jim Gilmore.
The format of the debate wasn't shared with the public beforehand. Fox News debate moderators Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace said they had spent weeks fine-tuning the important topics viewers wanted to hear more about from the candidates. Fox News is the nation's highest-rated cable station and to watch the debate online, viewers had to have cable authentication.
“So many people are just so interested in this debate," Jay Wallace, vice president for news and senior executive producer of news and politics, told the New York Times prior to the event. "Whether it’s the number of candidates or Donald Trump, there’s been a spotlight on this one that is unlike any other debate we’ve ever had.”