The GOP #KidsTable Debate in 16 Tweets

From “Ronald Raven” to the largely empty arena.

Republican presidential candidates from left, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Carly Fiorina, and George Pataki take the stage for a pre-debate forum at the Quicken Loans Arena, Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. Seven of the candidates have not qualified for the prime time debate.Andrew Harnik/AP

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Fox News raised hackles when it announced the selection criteria for the first GOP presidential candidate debate: only the top-10, based on an average of selected national polls, would be allowed into the primetime debate. Rick Santorum called it “preposterous,” but Fox had a solution. It would put on a pre-debate debate a couple hours before the main event, featuring the candidates that weren’t quite fit for prime time. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but at least they’d get a chance to air their views. But it was quickly clear that these were second-tier candidates, at least based on the way moderators Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer framed the early questions:

The B-team feel was also reinforced by a largely-empty Quicken Loans Arena:

But that’s not to say the candidates didn’t say interesting things. There were flubs:

And a sleepy Sen. Lindsey Graham saying some rather interesting things about women’s rights:

But maybe that paid off?

Rick Santorum also had some interesting things to say, although not in the way he probably wanted:

The question the candidates had the most difficulty with was providing a two-word description of Hillary Clinton:

But Carly Fiorina emerged the clear winner:

She might have been the only one to really move the needle, as most of the candidates will likely continue to poll in the low single digits:

Glad that’s overwith, or…

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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