How Did Trump Do in the Debate? - December 2015

Donald Trump went into the fifth GOP debate leading polls with his widest margin yet.
Donald Trump went into the fifth GOP debate leading polls with his widest margin yet.

It's the morning after the fifth GOP showdown and the big question is: "How did Trump do in the debate?"

That's because this time yesterday, the real estate mogul was leading the Republican presidential nominee field with his widest margin yet. Monmouth University poll data released Monday revealed Trump had breached the 40% favorability mark (41%) - light-years ahead of the next-highest contender, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who now sits at 24%.

His performance last night will surely impact that lead, for good or for bad.

Here's a look at how Donald Trump did in the final GOP debate of 2015...

How Did Trump Do in the Debate?

The real estate mogul got 13:25 minutes of total speaking time, NPR reported this morning. He came in third following Cruz (15:58 minutes) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (13:33 minutes). This is different from the first two GOP debates in which Trump dominated the clock.

What the real estate mogul did get to say, however, was that he was "totally committed to the Republican party." That's a pivotal statement after rampant speculation Trump might consider an independent run should he fail to win the party's nomination.

"I've gained great respect for the Republican leadership," Trump said last night. "I feel very honored to be the front-runner."

Of course, you never know - Trump could yet change his mind.

The New York businessman was also subjected to attacks last night from former Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (NYSE: HPE) CEO Carly Fiorina. When asked by moderator Wolf Blitzer if it's better to leave Middle East dictators in power or to intervene in order to overthrow them, Trump bemoaned the resources the United States has already put toward such interventions. He said the trillions of dollars would be better spent here at home improving the country.

That's when Fiorina rebutted...

"I'm amazed to hear that from a Republican presidential candidate," she said. Trump brushed off her statement with his trademark shrug.

While this attack from Fiorina drew a mild reaction from the crowd - a few hoots and a spat of applause - the biggest verbal attack directed at Trump last night came from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush...

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The L.A. Times reported that Jeb seemed to have come to the debate with "one distinct purpose in mind: to leap on the Trump grenade for the good of the party."

"Donald, you are not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency," Bush warned the billionaire. This statement prompted Trump to mock the former governor's low poll numbers and "low energy."

However, Trump did seem rattled a bit by Bush's persistent antagonism. Jeb continuously tried to interrupt the billionaire, which appeared to get on Trump's nerves.

But Donald came away from the most heated exchange between the two ultimately victorious.

"With Jeb's attitude, we will never be great again," he said confidently.

Cue applause.

Another Trump antagonizer last night was conservative radio talk show host and guest panelist Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt asked Jeb Bush about his statement that Trump isn't qualified to be president. Trump interrupted, miffed that the radio pundit was basically inviting his rivals to openly attack him.

"I watched the first debate," the billionaire lamented, "and the first long number of questions were, 'Mr. Trump said this, Mr. Trump said that. Mr. Trump' - these poor guys - although, I must tell you, Santorum, good guy. Governor Huckabee, good guy. They were very nice, and I respect them greatly. But I thought it was very unfair that virtually the entire early portion of the debate was Trump this, Trump that, in order to get ratings, I guess."

Trump eventually shut the squabble down with an, "Okay, fine" - a very "non-Trump" statement, but the real estate mogul likely saw the exchange was going nowhere.

In the end, it seemed Trump's rivals still haven't figured out how to topple him. The candidate was by far the most attacked onstage last night, according to data released by Bloomberg Politics this morning. He survived nine attacks by other candidates and provoked 21 rounds of applause (followed by Sen. Rand Paul, with 10 rounds). The New York businessman also got 15 questions directed his way.

While it's hard to say whether Donald Trump won the fifth GOP debate, the bombastic billionaire walked away unscathed and solidly remains the party's top candidate for now.

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