The second GOP debate has come and gone, and boy was it a doozy. Featuring 11 candidates—including Carly Fiorina, who was bumped up from the “kids table” debate following a change in CNN's eligibility criteria—the discussion lasted for three hours, with topics including everything from immigration to vaccinations.
Fiorina wasted no time in justifying why she was allowed to participate on the main stage. She dominated the first third of the debate, and made her presence known immediately. Fiorina struck first on foreign policy, and proved that she was informed and qualified to deal with foreign leaders.
She also showed intense debating talent by managing to seamlessly meld Iran and pro-life issues in one coherent response:
And finally, Fiorina closed out her dominating first-hour performance by taking the high road after being asked to respond to Donald Trump's "look at that face" comment from last week. Rather than snark back at Trump's own "persona," Fiorina responded tactfully that "women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said."
In what was likely the most viral moment of the night, Sen. Rand Paul (KY) called out Gov. Jeb Bush (FL) for his past marijuana use yet reluctance to embrace medical or recreational marijuana legalization. Bush admitted to smoking weed, and an argument over marijuana legalization ensued.
Sorry Mom— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) September 17, 2015
Sen. Marco Rubio also had a decent performance, sounding coherent and logical on immigration and immigration reform. Rubio highlighted the need for sensible immigration reform to fix the legal immigration system that "no longer works," and stressed the need for a merit-based system.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in rare form last night, and was much livelier and focused than he was in the first debate. Christie defended Pres. Bush's invasion of Afghanistan, citing his family's personal experience on September 11, 2001 and his work as a prosecutor.
Perhaps the most head-scratching moment of the night came at the hands of Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump. When Carson, a neurosurgeon, was asked to basically tell Trump to stop saying that vaccines cause autism, (they don't) he essentially waffled and refused to straight-up condemn Trump's comments. Carson easily could have swept the floor with Trump on this, considering, you know, he's a doctor, but he settled for a lame laugh line.
As Katie wrote, Bush and Gov. Scott Walker didn't have much in the category of memorable lines, but this tag-team exchange defending George W. Bush's policies was a highlight:
The next debate will be held on October 28.