After cramming 7 minutes of entertainment into 80 minutes of kiddie-table debate Thursday afternoon, the main event is finally here: the first official 2016 Republican presidential candidates’ debate. Frontrunner Donald Trump faces off against former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christiem and Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a death match to the death, and we will have all the highlights in near-real time.
If the earlier debate is any indication, the moderators will be stirring the pot, and the pre-written one-liners will be plentiful. The difference is that this time, Trump will be on stage to hit back. Let the pigeons loose!
Wow, right off the bat, Donald Trump steals the show by refusing to rule out an independent run, and Rand Paul steps up to take shots at Trump. The crowd is not happy, but Trump doesn’t blink once.
Bush answers the “Dynasty” question, and gets a laugh with his “Veto Corleone” line.
Trump kills right away by busting on Rosie O’Donnell, then loses the crowd a little by menacing Megyn Kelly. “What I say is what I say,” Trump says.
Dr. Scott Walker is pretty sure you ladies can find some other way not to die:
Huckabee is pro-life, anti-Buick:
Trump passes on attacking Bush, still wants a wall:
Kasich tries to play nice with Trump, says he’s hitting a nerve because we all want a Mexican wall:
Rubio wants a fence, too, and he also thinks Donald Trump is hitting a nerve. Trump is owning this thing:
Oh, damn! Christie and Rand Paul get into it over data collection, and Paul throws the Obama hug into the mix. Then Christie uses 9/11 families as human shields. Ugh:
Trump says he came out against the Iraq war in 2004, knew it was going to be a disaster. It started in 2003:
Trump smacks Rand Paul down, then explains how he forced Hillary Clinton to come to his wedding with payola:
Trump explains his companies’ bankruptcies, and schools Chris Wallace on the “killers” who lent to him. Crowd LOVES it:
Wait, what? Rubio says no to exceptions for rape and incest. Also, he needs water:
As Trump gets ready to explain his abortion flip-flop, Rubio gets his drink of water, and Trump attacks W:
Jeb denies calling Trump an asshole, Trump tells Jeb “We don’t have time for tone!”:
Wow, Megyn Kelly asked a #BlackLivesMatter question. Scott Walker thinks we should train cops. Thanks!
Huckabee doesn’t like trans-soldiers. “The purpose of the military is to kill people and break stuff.”
Ben Carson thinks racism would stop if people stopped calling things racist. Hot take:
Huckabee head-fakes an attack on Trump in his closing, but flips it to Hillary. Hillary-ous:
Trump gives a normal closing speech, capping a resounding victory.