Millions tuned in last night to watch the Republican presidential candidates face off for a second time at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. As expected, the debate provided no shortage of standout moments, from Trumpian attacks on Rand Paul's appearance to Carly Fiorina's sharp and refreshing debut on the main stage. Internet users nationwide wasted no time snipping GIFs and recording Vines of each pivotal point in the debate. For those without the time to sift through all of the commentary, here's a few reaction posts to help sum up the night:
The first question of the night went to former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, highlighting the fact that some candidates have suggested that Donald Trump could be dangerous as president, and asking Mrs. Fiorina if she would feel comfortable with him in control of the nuclear codes. Twitter user @jasonmustian caught the Donald's reaction:
I think Trump just did all the emoji faces in 7 seconds. pic.twitter.com/hC18pVxKgh— Jason Mustian (@jasonmustian) September 17, 2015
How many emoji faces can you count?
On the same question, Wisconsin governor Scott walker chimed in to inform Mr. Trump, "We don't need an apprentice in the White House, we have one right now."
As for the rest of the Governor's night, well...
Seeming to respond to Trump's criticism of being too "low energy", former Florida Governor Jeb Bush upped the ante, and the two got pretty heated over the issue of gambling. Bush said that he prevented Trump from bringing casinos to Florida; Trump responded Jeb is just "making things up".
But that's okay, they made up later.
Fellow Floridian Senator Marco Rubio impressed on issues of foreign policy. This comes as no surprise since he serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, but his depth of knowledge on Russian and Iranian activities was nonetheless impressive.
When moderator Jake Tapper solicited Trump to place blame for the Syrian refugee crisis at the feet of the Republican Senators on stage, the real estate billionaire happily complied. Rubio countered, pointing out Obama's inaction in the region even after he had drawn his "red line" with Syria. A strong response, but it must have been a steam room in there, and viewers could see who was feeling the heat.
And let's not forget the breakout star of the night: Carly Fiorina. Following the JV round of the first debate, Fiorina punched her ticket to the main event in California and capitalized on her chances. Her contrast with the other candidates extended beyond being the sole female candidate on stage to a commanding understanding of the issues, each answer concise yet forceful in a way that drew big responses from the crowd. Fiorina arrived ready for battle, and it showed. IJ Reivew had some fun feeding the post-debate Carly hype.
Hey Marco Rubio: As a fellow sweater, I feel for you, man. #CNNDebate— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) September 17, 2015
Mrs. Fiorina's biggest moment of the night came when she was asked to respond to Mr. Trump's attack on her personal appearance. Rolling stone has reported that Trump said of Mrs. Fiorina, "Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!"
Offered the chance to throw some of her own bombast back at Trump, Mrs. Fiorina instead delivered an understated retort that resonated with the audience.
As to how last night's debate will affect the candidates' standings in the race, only time will tell. This cycle has shown so far that the conventional wisdom on presidential races has had but a limited attachment to the success of the Republican field. There have been declared "winners" and "losers" of the CNN debate, but only the voters get to decide who will stay in the race. The next GOP primary debate will be hosted by CNBC on October 28 at the University of Colorado Boulder.