I have waited several days to see how the aftermath of the first 2016 Republican Debate would play out following the explosive confrontations between Fox News host Megyn Kelly, and front-runner Donald Trump. After watching what is happening in the news media and on social media, the biggest winners seem to be the candidates who appeared in the 5pm “early” debate broadcast.


From the onset of the debate, the knives were out with numerous “attack” questions aimed at Donald Trump. It seem unending and I was very surprised that the moderators would drive this so quickly. Some of them were valid questions, though the intensity with which they were asked seemed over the top. If I was a candidate on stage not named Trump, I’d be asking myself why I was there for the first 45 minutes.

Unfortunately the biggest story to come away from the 9pm prime-time debate was about the moderators which, in my opinion, indicates a failure to conduct a professional debate. Compare this to the 5pm debate, which was almost based on substance and policy questions, the difference is striking.

What also struck me was the disproportionate amount of time allotted to candidates. Governor Scott Walker was the third place spot yet took less than half the time of the front-runner. Beyond that, Senator Rand Paul received even less and barely fielded any questions.

(Image from the New York Times)

On top of that, the moderator questions took up about 38 minutes which means each moderator received over 12 minutes of speaking time. That is the result of many “lecture-style” questions where the answer may be “yes” or “no,” but the question is two pages long. Again, we learned more about the moderators from those exchanges than we did the candidates.

In total, if I had to pick some winners from the prime-time hour, I’d say that Dr. Ben Carson shined and likely had some of the best lines of the night. Others, such as Scott Walker, made it through unscathed for the most part. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie finally came to life in the campaign and probably helped himself in the sparring with Senator Rand Paul. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did alright, though his performance is being described as “lackluster” and I think that’s an accurate term. Donald Trump may have gotten away with a boost since the sparring with moderators overshadowed some of his question-dodging and poorly conceived answers.

This debate, if you can use that term, was all about the moderators, and not about the candidates. For two hours of air time, I learned little about the candidates since their answers were often overshadowed by the questions.

In conclusion, I’d like to see CNN provide a better, more professional tone in the next Republican debate on September 16.

Agree or disagree, tell me what you think.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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