On Tuesday night, all the Republican candidates gathered in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the fifth debate of the GOP primary season. This debate was hosted by CNN and moderated by Wolf Blitzer. Nine candidates appeared during primetime and the remaining four candidates appeared during an earlier broadcast.

Originally Aired: Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Primetime Debate
Candidates: Trump, Carson, Rubio, Cruz, Bush, Kasich, Christie, Fiorina, Paul

Here is full video of the primetime debate:

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If Rand Paul is going to have a moment, this debate was his time. For the first time, I think he actually stepped out with many solid exchanges and answers. Whether he will make a dent in his lackluster polls is another story, but I think this debate was good for him. He was able to stand out taking a different tact than nearly the entire rest of the field so he had some memorable moments.

Chris Christie also came out strong, as expected, and it may actually help him build on some of his prior momentum, especially in New Hampshire. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz both did well and both avoided attacking each other. I expected this and called it in my prediction earlier today. They have nothing to gain from opening lines of attack.

Marco Rubio also did well and came prepared for the topic. Rubio takes the hawkish role, perhaps the most hawkish on stage and it showed in several of his answers. Jeb Bush had a little more success in attacking Trump, though I don’t think it will be enough to move his poll numbers or actually hurt Trump in his standing. Carly Fiorina put in a good performance also, but I don’t think she’s going to gain any more traction that she’s already holding. Ben Carson may have had the worst time of the night, though even he didn’t turn in a bad performance on a topic which has not traditionally been his strong point.

Each candidate seemed more polished than prior broadcasts, perhaps it was the seriousness of the topic or the experience of four debates that is finally rubbing off on them.

Undercard Debate
Candidates: Huckabee, Santorum, Graham, Pataki

Here is the full undercard debate video:

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Report from WPSD:

The Republican presidential candidates participating in the undercard debate Tuesday evening ended their faceoff on the same national security note with which they began.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham says, “Make me president, I will keep you and your family safe.”

George Pataki cites his experience as New York’s governor on 9/11 and says, “as a free people, we can soar to new heights.”

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum says President Obama hasn’t kept the country safe — and says Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would also fail at the task.

He says he has known the face of evil, and “will defeat it.”

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee says of terrorists who threaten the United States, “we have to take them out.” He adds that if elected president, “I will fight for your grandkids as much as I would fight for mine.”

The emotion was high in the early debate, as it was in the primetime broadcast as well. Graham had some strong moments since the entire time was spent discussing his specialty of national security and foreign policy. Nothing that will move the needle, but they all put in decent performances.