The final Republican presidential debate of 2015 is over, and we may already have a winner.
Donald Trump, who leads in the polls by double digits, came out on top, according to Google Search results.
— GoogleTrends (@GoogleTrends) December 16, 2015
A county-by-county breakdown shows Trump (in red) trouncing the eight other GOP candidates across the United States.
The debate, hosted by CNN and focused on national security, often turned bitter. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fought over the effectiveness of phone surveillance by the National Security Agency, with Rubio arguing that passage of the USA Freedom Act—an NSA-reform bill Cruz voted for that ended the agency’s phone metadata-collection program—made Americans less safe. “We need more tools, not less tools” to fight terrorism, Rubio said.
Cruz countered, saying his vote strengthened NSA surveillance, though he failed to mention that the program Rubio want to bring back—which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed in 2013—“had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism,” according to analysis by the New America Foundation.
Cruz and Rubio later sparred over immigration reform, with Rubio accusing Cruz of supporting “legalizing people who are here illegally,” which Cruz roundly rejected as false.
“I understand that Marco wants to raise confusion. It is not accurate… I led the fight against his legal citizenship and amnesty bill… he was fighting to grant amnesty and to not secure the border.”
The most heated exchanges came between Trump and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who has struggled to gain steam in the polls despite his well-funded campaign. There was little in the way of substance between the spats, with the candidates seeming to make a point of talking over each other. At one point, Bush trashed Trump by saying that he would be a “chaos president.”
— Layer 8 (@dotlayer8) December 16, 2015
In a surprising moment of peace-making, Trump flip-flopped on his criticism of Cruz, whom he recently called a “maniac” after reports surfaced that Cruz had bashed Trump during a private meeting.
“He has a wonderful temper,” Trump said in response to a question about his opinion of Cruz. “Don’t worry about it.”
Photo via DonkeyHotey/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)