As most Americans were focused on the Thursday night debate, but there was an early bird debate which aired hours before on Fox News and was dubbed the #GOPKidsDebate on Twitter. It included the seven lowest Republican candidates polling wise which didn't allow any of them to make it to the main event in the evening. The ratings for the Big Boys prime time debate set all kinds of records with over 24 million viewers, but the early debate garnered only a 0.8 in the all important 19-49 demographic. That means around 1/5 of the voters that watched at night actually saw it which is a huge number. The buzz around the beltway media water cooler after the happy hour affair ended was that former HP CEO Carly Fiorina was the undisputed winner.
Carly Fiorina was the only woman on stage at the so-called "Happy Hour" debate on Thursday night. She was also the only one of the seven candidates who made clear that she deserves more attention -- and a more prime spot in the debates -- as the campaign continues.
Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, was the clear winner of the 5 p.m. debate. Her knowledge and the forceful way she made her case made me wish she were a part of the Big 10 — even more so after seeing the Big 10.
The first of two early Republican presidential candidates' debates had yet to end on Thursday when the U.S. social media world began declaring former business executive Carly Fiorina the winner.
NBC News opined: Carly Fiorina Wins Buzz After 'Happy Hour' Debate
Seven Republicans shared a debate stage derided as "the kiddie table" Thursday night, relegated to a pre-primetime show due to middling poll numbers.
But one candidate - former HP head Carly Fiorina - emerged from the relatively low-key contest with significant buzz after taking on not only Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton by name, but even her own party.
If you watched all the cable news shows after the evening debate, they all agreed too - it was Carly, Carly, Carly!
Now, one could argue that her competition was so horribly pathetic, it doesn't say much for her oratory skills that she won at all. There's a reason the seven candidates were relegated to the kids table after all. I mean, how big a deal is it if you beat a small group of wannabes that included George Pataki and James Gilmore, amirite? Her own polling numbers register at something like 1.3% afterall so why the hype?
To say the 2016 GOP field is lacking in the ladies is an understatement. Then you add the Donald into the mix and all hell is breaking loose. Let's face it, Donald Trump's rapid rise in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries has sent shockwaves throughout the Republican establishment. He's also made many disturbing remarks about women in the past and that's not a look the establishment is peased with, especially if they have to battle Hillary Clinton in the general. (You'd find it hard pressed to find many complimentary words being spoken about women by the GOP candidates either)
If it wasn't before, after watching the Fox News hosts purposefully hone in on taking Donald Trump down a few notches, it became quite apparent that Roger Ailes wants him out of the race before he gets a chance to win Iowa and grab some real delegates. Gabriel Sherman, Ailes biographer explained how this is being played out in Ellen's piece called What’s Behind The Fox News Breakup With Donald Trump?
Over the past week, Ailes and his executives had been strategizing about how to deal with Trump. The prospect that the Donald could hijack the debate presented programming and political perils for both Ailes and his star anchors. What if Trump started insulting his GOP rivals onstage? Or broke the debate rules?...read on
Not backing down, Trump continued to attack Fox' Megyn Kelly afterwards which infuriated Fox News even more. Erick Erickson, then jumped in to lend a hand and he disinvited Trump to his super hyped Red State gathering because of his comments against Kelly. Most of the media ignored Erickson's own history of misogynistic behavior so they could focus on Trump since he's the preffered flavor at this moment, but whatever.
But it wasn't only Trump's offensive behavior towards women that has been a problem for the GOP because in the debate many of the men in the evening debate like Marco Rubio and Scott Walker said that rape or incest was not a reason to get an abortion and went so far as to say, very clearly, that the life of a mother was of no consequence when it came to the issue of abortion. On Sunday, Marco Rubio doubled down on his extreme abortion positions. So, in other words, by trying to win over the hard core right wing religious conservatives, they've alienated women even further.
These positions have even frieghtened Margaret Hoover so much, a frequent Fox News guest and a Republican consultant that she told the NY times that:
“Not one candidate attempted to persuade women voters,” said Margaret Hoover, a Republican consultant and author. “The G.O.P. needs to fight for women votes because it believes our policies are better for women. There’s a difference between pandering and vote-courting: Thursday night, G.O.P. candidates did neither for women weary of the Republican brand.”
Enter Carly Fiorina. Fox News took her win to heart so much, they actually piped in one of her responses to the massive evening debate audience. Why would they bother to do that? Roger Ailes and the GOP grand poobahs know they need to reach out to women anyway they can and at this point there's only one person who fits the bill left standing for them and that's Carly.
Republican stalwarts like Newt Gingrich hope she will break through and edge her way into the main event, but she has a lot of ground to make up. Who is she going to bump out of the top ten? She'd have to triple her polling position at this point and hope John Kasich, Rand Paul or Chris Christie somehow declines significantly in the polls as well. There's only one thing Fox News and other media outlets can do to help her ascend into the top tier of candidates. Offer up as much free airtime to her as they can, without any pointed questions about her previous work at HP. I expect to see a constant Carly presence from now until CNN announces who will be on the main stage of their debate.
UPDATE: I'm not taking the new NBC/SurveyMonkey poll on the GOP candidates that seriously since it's an online poll and about 19 million people never even watched the first debate with Carly.