Well, here it is. The first debate of the 2016 presidential race and Election Day is still more than a full year away. It’s gonna be a long year, isn’t it? Thursday night at 9 p.m., 10 of the 17 Republican candidates for president gather on one stage for a gigantic debate and it seems like the entire internet tuned in to Fox News to watch.
Excitement started building on Twitter hours before the debate with the hashtag #GOPdebate starting to trend early Thursday afternoon. Some offered predictions of what the debate would be like.
And the WWE references didn’t end there. Especially once Donald Trump arrived in Cleveland.
No surprise, The Donald inspired the most excitement of any candidate tonight.
And of course, everyone had to share their drinking game rules.
#GOPDebate Drinking Game Rules: Chug beer for "immigration" Shot of tequila for "abortion" Shot of whiskey for "gun control" Die in 5 mins— Cristela Alonzo (@cristela9) August 6, 2015
Though the “real” debate started at 9, the night’s festivities really began three hours earlier with what’s been called the “kids’ table” debate, which featured the seven candidates who are polling lower than the other 10. Some on Twitter noticed a theme running through the first round of questions.
All of these first round questions in the #GOPDebate are basically variations of "Aren't you kind of a loser?"— Paul Bruno (@MrPABruno) August 6, 2015
"Gov. Pataki, why the hell are you here?" #GOPDebate— Sylvan Lane (@SylvanLane) August 6, 2015
Eventually, the debate started in earnest and the candidates fielded questions about the issues. Everything from foreign policy…
Carly Fiorina detailed her plan to fight ISIS today. Mostly, it involves luring them into the low-margin personal computer business.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) May 27, 2015
So far Lindsey Graham has said something about terrorists, terrorists, terrorists, terrorist and terrorists. #GOPDebate— Jorge Rivas (@thisisjorge) August 6, 2015
to domestic issues
"Treat every one equally under the law" says Santorum.* #GOPDebate *unless you're LGBT— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) August 6, 2015
Graham's jobs plan: Repeal Obamacare, build a pipeline, repeal Dodd-Frank. Also, something about Hillary's emails. And ISIL. #GOPDebate— Jesse Walker (@notjessewalker) August 6, 2015
Senator Lindsey Graham seemed fixated on Hillary Clinton. Even more than the other candidates.
Does Graham realize he doesn't have to beat Hillary? He has to get past everyone else first. #GOPdebate— Rebecca K. (@Rebeksy) August 6, 2015
Of course, other candidates made sure to get their licks in, too.
Clinton and Obama are "working hard to turn the American dream into the European nightmare." -- Jindal #GOPDebate— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) August 6, 2015
But no presidential debate can go by without someone going just a little bit crazy. And by someone, I mean Rick Santorum.
Did no one notice Santorum compared Gay Marriage ruling to Dred Scott ruling? A human just compared gay marriage to slavery. #GOPDebate— Travis Helwig (@travishelwig) August 6, 2015
In the debate’s closing moments, the moderators asked the candidates to sum up their positions using two words. How’d that work out for them?
Okay, Guys, that's way more than two words. #GOPDebate It's a pretty simple rule.— Dan Joseph (@DanJoseph78) August 6, 2015
…About as well as you’d expect from any politician, I guess.
So who won?
I've got to admit, Carly Fiorina has really impressed me #GOPDebate— Bass Commander (@Bass_Commander) August 6, 2015
Somewhat surprisingly, the general consensus seemed to favor former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. She even won over one of her opponents.
Perry just endorsed Fiorina. Did NOT see that coming. #GOPDebate— Rex Parker (@rexparker) August 6, 2015
Nice job, Carly. Now on to the real debate.
Things were a little awkward from the start, with the sheer number of men on stage making the program look more like a reality show than a political debate.
Megyn Kelly, will you accept this rose? #GOPDebate— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) August 7, 2015
Dr. Ben Carson fielded the first question, which dealt with his inexperience in politics. His answer? Not half bad.
Ben Carson gets the 1st question. She asks "aren't you inexperienced?" And he pulled the Scarecrow from the Wiz. I have a brain! #GOPDebate— April (@ReignOfApril) August 7, 2015
"The thing that is probably most important is having a brain," Ben Carson says. He's a retired neurosurgeon so he should know. #GOPDebate— Sabrina Siddiqui (@SabrinaSiddiqui) August 7, 2015
Honestly, the position that the president of the United States should have a brain is one most Americans would probably agree with.
Kelly didn’t pull any punches, especially when it came to Donald Trump. Her next question took Trump to task for his history of sexist remarks. He responded in a typically Trump fashion.
A great way to prove you aren't sexist: interrupt the woman asking you the question. #GOPDebate— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) August 7, 2015
Trump did take the opportunity to reiterate Dr. Carson’s point about brains in the oval office, though not quite as eloquently.
Look, let’s just get Trump out of the way now. We all knew going in he was going to say some outrageous things. That’s the reason half the people watching the debate tuned in at all. His fight with Jeb Bush over immigration conjured up images of a bickering married couple.
Trump and Jeb on immigration - it's like couples' therapy! "Talk to him directly!" #GOPdebate— Jennifer Weiner (@jenniferweiner) August 7, 2015
And his plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico sounded a little too familiar to fans of HBO.
That’s not to say he didn’t have some good points.
"Our leaders are stupid! Our politicians are stupid! Well, it's a popular message. Even I liked it. #GOPDebate— Dan Carlin (@dccommonsense) August 7, 2015
But Trump was far from the only candidate onstage. How did the others do? Well, after answering his first question, Ben Carson was relatively quiet. So few questions were directed his way, it almost seemed like the moderators forgot he was there.
Thus far Ben Carson has answered one question. Something to the effect of "why are you on this stage?" No others. #GOPDebate— AlterNet (@AlterNet) August 7, 2015
Though when he did get a chance to answer some serious policy questions, he gave answers like this.
Carson: Hillary feeds off of the uniformed, depending on the votes of useful idiots... ouch. #GOPDebate— RGP (@RepubGrlProbs) August 7, 2015
"What's your strategy for the war on terror?" "I'm gonna do away with political correctness." #GOPdebate— Sean P. McCarthy (@SeanMcCarthyCom) August 7, 2015
At least he made us laugh in the end.
"I'm the only one here who has separated Siamese twins!" -Carson ...oh honey. #GOPDebate— Kelsey Cochran (@zzkelseyanne) August 7, 2015
Ben Carson: "I'm gonna lose this race, so let me try my stand-up routine." #GOPDebate— Hemant Mehta (@hemantmehta) August 7, 2015
Ted Cruz, meanwhile looked oddly uncomfortable whenever he spoke.
Ted Cruz looks so scared and sad all the time. I want to give him an ice cream and tell him it'll be ok. #GOPDebate— Andrew Kober (@andrewkober) August 7, 2015
Scott Walker maybe shouldn’t have skipped Geography in school.
Scotty Walker: "Egypt is probably the best friend we have in Israel" FOR PRESIDENT??? #GOPDebate— Barracks O'Bama (@P0TUS) August 7, 2015
Chris Christie’s most memorable moment was his emotional argument with Rand Paul over his defense of the PATRIOT Act.
Mike Huckabee said a great many things that riled up Twitter, but nothing quite so much as this.
Did Huckabee just blame our economic woes on the inability to adequately tax "prostitutes and pimps?" #GOPDebate— Mechelle (@nolegirl) August 7, 2015
Though some speculated he was just plugging his upcoming project.
"Illegals, pimps and prostitutes." Mike Huckabee's new mixtape is dropping this October. #GOPDebate— Halfrican American (@lenubienne) August 7, 2015
You just know he’ll be hustling the album to tourists in Times Square later this month.
Jeb Bush, oddly enough seemed kind of… absent. He was there, but with all the big personalities in the room, he was easy to miss.
Jeez. I hope Jeb Knows when the Primary is. #GOPDebate— Dan Joseph (@DanJoseph78) August 7, 2015
A major theme that persisted throughout the debate was candidates bragging about the humble jobs their fathers worked. Twitter thought that was a little strange.
"Well first of all, my father was a mail man, so let's not forget how relatable I am." #GOPDebate— Laina (@laina622) August 7, 2015
The essence of a GOP remarks about your family: "No! My father was an even bigger loser than his!" #GOPDebate— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) August 7, 2015
But when it comes to getting weird, nothing can top the sentence before the final commercial break.
Megyn Kelly promised God. And did she ever deliver. It turns out the penultimate question for each candidate asked if they’d heard any words from the Almighty regarding their candidacy. Or as one tweeter put it…
"Final Question: Which one of you is a cut-rate Joan of Arc?" #GOPDebate— Langston Leake (@NotMrHughes) August 7, 2015
Marco Rubio took the opportunity to get one last dig in at the Democrats.
But most of the other candidates’ responses sounded a little more like this.
In the end, this debate had one clear winner.
The winner is: Twitter. #GOPDebate— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) August 7, 2015
I think we all saw that coming.
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.