No clear winner emerged from Fox Business Network debate in what has been the least-crowded main stage of the Republican primary season. Eight GOP presidential candidates squared off Tuesday evening: Each had a strong moment or two, and no one came away too badly bruised.
Pundits said the candidates fared generally well throughout the two-hour debate at the Milwaukee Theater in Milwaukee. The candidates invited to the prime-time debate Tuesday were former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, businessman Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Online polls offered mixed results: The Drudge Report's poll found that businesman Donald Trump won with almost 42 percent of the vote. Viewers voted on the Wall Street Journal poll that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was the winner with 29 percent.
Executive chairman of News Corp. Rupert Murdoch weighed in to praise all of the candidates, except Trump.
Great debate. All did well, Carson, Bush, others did well, perhaps Rubio best of all. With all doing well Trump did not stand out like past
— Rupert Murdoch (@rupertmurdoch) November 11, 2015
According to some reviews, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina shined among the candidates considered Washington outsiders. "Carly Fiorina is one of three candidates on the stage never to have held elective or appointive office," wrote the Atlantic's Yoni Appelbaum. "But unlike Carson or Trump, she’s clearly done her homework on foreign-policy issues. When pressed, she consistently rattles off well-rehearsed answers, cramming in details as if enough specifics can drown out any doubts about experience. And so far, it seems to be working for her."
As far as social media goes, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz performed strongly. "He now has the second most mentions of all candidates with more than 73K. He only trails Donald Trump who has over 75K mentions," according to Brandwatch data. Twitter reported that Trump ate up about 20 percent of the conversation on the social media site in the first hour of the GOP debate. But Brandwatch also said that most of the mentions of Trump -- 55.5 percent -- were negative.
The political-media establishment had largely agreed before the debate that Jeb Bush needed an exceptionally strong performance in order to dissipate the pall hanging over his campaign. While he was more energized than in the two previous debates, he didn't appear to break through well enough to end the perception that his campaign is in deep trouble. The Fox Business Network analysts, chatting after the debate, agreed that his support was likely to continue slipping away -- probably to Marco Rubio.
And at the kid's table, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared to be the winner. In the Street's online poll, 53 percent of respondents said Christie won the undercard debate, which aired prior to the prime-time debate for lower-polling candidates.
The Washington Post also hailed Christie as the lower-tier debate winner. "New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dominated the proceedings, winning with demonstrated proficiency on the issues and his blunt, funny barbs at Hillary Clinton. He began by reminding New Hampshire voters about his town hall meetings, where he hears the concerns of ordinary people who struggle to pay the bills. He then ticked off his plans to reform the tax code and repeal “suffocating” regulations," the Post wrote.
"Christie didn't take the bait for the most part, instead using his answers to try to turn an eye toward the general election with ready attacks against Hillary Clinton," wrote National Public Radio. "But [Louisiana Gov. Bobby] Jindal was the most forceful he's been in these face-offs, attacking the New Jersey governor's record and other rivals, trying to paint himself as the only unwavering conservative in the race. The two appeared to dominate the debate, which was just over an hour long. According to Facebook, Christie was the most discussed candidate on the social network, followed by Jindal."