You can’t delve into coverage of the 2016 Republican Presidential Debate without acknowledging that one of the 10 men on stage at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland will most likely be his party’s challenger to Hillary Clinton in the race to become our nation’s 45th president. (Well, it could also be one of the seven candidates relegated to the kids’ table, but…)
Still, it would be facetious to not acknowledge that the GOP’s current front-runner, Donald Trump, is that guy who earlier this year, as host and head judge of The Celebrity Apprentice, tussled with Kenya Moore from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Sharknado star Ian Ziering and (ugh) Kate Gosselin.
And so it is that TVLine is covering the initial Republican debate of the 2016 presidential race with an eye on killer soundbites, TKO punches and (yes) anything resembling The Donald hollering, “You’re fired!”
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With that philosophy out there, let’s count down the most memorable Trump zingers —and other ‘Holy Crap!’ moments:
* Hosts Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier excitedly asking the candidates “Are you nervous?” as they attempted to kill two or three minutes to stall the proceedings from starting before 9pm ET. (Fun fact: Ted Cruz’s “ish-y” hand gesture definitely ranks No. 1 on the “Oh-No-O-Meter.”
* “Well, I’ve given him plenty of money.” —Donald Trump hissing at Sen. Rand Paul for accusing him of “buying” politicians
* Dr. Ben Carson insisting that “having a brain” is the No. 1 requirement for the POTUS position. (Dude, are you implying some of your rivals are like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz?)
* Sen. Marco Rubio reminding us that he owed $100,000 in student loans just four years ago. (So how much does he have left — and how exactly did he get that figure down? And do I have access to those methods, too?)
* Trump inciting the crowd to rapturous applause by telling Kelly that his laundry list of misogynistic remarks over the last few years were “only” directed at Rosie O’Donnell — then Kelly tartly shooting back that it simply wasn’t the case. “What I say is what I say,” Trump fired back, the Presidential embodiment of Popeyes “I Yam What I Yam” (but with gnarlier hair).
* “I don’t mind having a big, beautiful door on that wall — so people can come into this country [legally],” insisted Trump, when asked to discuss his position on Mexican border security. Still, he offered no definitive evidence regarding follow-up claims that “the Mexican government is much smarter, much sharper and more cunning” than U.S. government officials, and will “send the bad ones,” including rapists and drug dealers, northward.
* “I also believe we need a fence,” added Rubio.
* Mocked by his rival Sen. Paul of hugging President Obama during the days following Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie struck back that his best hugging memories involved embracing the victims of 9/11 and dealing with the local fallout of said terrorist attack.
* “I said, ‘Be at my wedding,’ and she came to my wedding,” Trump said, when asked what he got from his campaign contributions to rival Hillary Clinton.
* “God’s a pretty fair guy,” posited Carson, when pushing the idea of a “tithing” system of taxation for U.S. citizens.
* “The fair tax transforms the process by which we fund Social Security and Medicare, because the money paid around consumption is paid by everybody — including illegals, prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers,” shouted Huckabee — perhaps the first POTUS wannabe ever to use the word “pimp” in his tax plan.
* Asked about his casinos and hotels declaring bankruptcy four times in the last 20 or so years, Trump got defensive: “I have used the laws of this country just like the greatest people that you read about every day in business have used the laws in this country to do a great job for my company, myself, my employees, my family, etc.”
* Trump added he was “very proud” that he “made a lot of money in Atlantic City” before “getting out” — and that America “needs somebody like me to straighten out this mess.” Alrighty then!
* Jeb Bush defended his record as a pro-life candidate — despite sitting on the board of what Kelly called a Bloomberg educational charity that directed “tens of millions” to Planned Parenthood. Florida was “the first state to do a ‘Choose Life’ license plate” under his watch, Bush insisted as a retort.
* “I think future generations will look back at this history of our country and call us barbarians for murdering millions of babies who we never gave them a chance to live,” Rubio declared, when questioned about the strength of his own opposition to abortion.
* Ohio governor John Kasich got very emotional when asked how he’d resolve his opposition to same-sex marriage if one of his own children came out as gay. “If one of my daughters would happen to be that,” he said, visibly tearing up, “Of course I would love them and I would accept them because that’s what we’re taught when we have strong faith.”
* Huckabee said the role of the military was “to kill people and break things” while arguing against the presence of transgender soldiers in the U.S. armed forces.
* “God has blessed us. He’s blessed the Republican Party with some very good candidates. The Democrats can’t even find one,” zinged Rubio, when asked for his ideology as it pertained to a higher power.
* Trump’s closing statement: “We don’t win anymore. We don’t beat China in trade. We don’t beat Japan with their millions and millions of cars coming into this country in trade. We can’t beat Mexico at the border or in trade. We can’t do anything right. Our military has to be strengthened. Our vets have to be taken care of — and we have to end Obamacare. And we have to make our country great again, and I will do that. Thank you.” (That’s all well and good, but HOW?)
What did you think of the first 2016 Republican Presidential Debate? Who won? Who lost ground? Who surprised you? And who made no impression whatsoever? Sound off in the comments below!