Their better-polling rivals get to debate in prime time, but seven Republicans tried to make the most of it in the first Fox News debate today. Based on the early reviews, it seems that one clearly did: Carly Fiorina. She "nailed it," observes the Washington Post. The former Hewlett-Packard exec didn't get flustered, answered questions clearly, and won rave reviews on Twitter. "They should invite carly fiorina back for the 9 oclock debate,” wrote Newt Gingrich. Some highlights from the forum with her, Rick Perry, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, and George Pataki:
- The presence of Donald Trump came up early. Fiorina quipped that she didn't get a phone call from Bill Clinton before deciding to run. "Did any of you get a phone call from Bill Clinton? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t given money to the foundation, or donated to his wife’s Senate campaign." But she also acknowledged that Trump has tapped into something real, notes the New York Times.
- Perry "appeared to pick up steam as the debate wore on, and he likely exceeded the low expectations that were set after his 2011 debate debacle," writes Colleen McCain Nelson at the Wall Street Journal. Asked to use two words to describe Hillary Clinton, Perry opted for three: "Good at email."
- Graham also went after Clinton: “To all the Americans who want a better life, don’t vote for Hillary Clinton,” he said in answering a question about the economy. "She represents the third term of a failed presidency.”
- Santorum hasn't been happy with his second-tier status, but in his first debate answer tonight, he "cleverly notes he was even further back four years ago before winning a string of states," tweeted Gerald Seib of the Wall Street Journal.
- Jindal, asked about Ohio Gov. John Kasich's decision to accept an ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, said, “I don’t think anyone should expand Medicaid," but held back on going after his fellow candidate. In the view of Politico, Jindal "didn’t deviate much from talking points or otherwise do much to stand out, but was articulate in his delivery."
- Pataki said he undid many of Mario Cuomo's executive orders when he became governor of New York. "I would do this to Barack Obama's executive orders."
- Gilmore called President Obama's executive orders on immigration illegal and said they show "contempt for the rule of law."
- Attendance in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena was relatively sparse, reports AP.
- The Washington Post provides a full transcript of the debate here.
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