GOP debate: Trump, Bush, Cruz, Paul, and Rubio mix it up

Last Updated Aug 7, 2015 7:35 AM EDT

  • The first primetime Republican primary debate of the 2016 election cycle was not, as many were predicting, all about Donald Trump.

    "We don't want to make it the Donald Trump show," said Fox News' Chris Wallace, one of the moderators, on Tuesday. "But it is."

    The billionaire businessman has lit up the early GOP primary with his trash-talking approach to politics, and he certainly didn't pull any punches during Thursday's debate, which was hosted in Cleveland, Ohio by Fox News.

    He tossed some barbs at other candidates, at President Obama, even at Rosie O'Donnell - and he received a few in return. But his combative style didn't dominate the evening. Instead, most of the other candidates focused on burnishing their own strengths and carving out their own brands within a winnowed-but-still-crowded lineup.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush positioned himself as a sober problem-solver, vowing not to use "wedge issues" like immigration and education to score cheap political points. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did not relent in his war on the GOP establishment, reminding voters about his scuffles with Republican Senate leaders who "don't honor their commitments."

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio promised to be the voice of the new generation and warned his party that Hillary Clinton will win the election if the campaign is boiled down to a "resume competition." Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul reminded the audience of his fight against government surveillance, drawing fierce pushback from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who recalled his personal exposure to the September 11 terror attacks. Ohio Gov. John Kasich played to the hometown crowd with an enthusiastic performance that was suffused with references to his faith.

    Of course, not everyone stood out. Some performances were lackluster, but none of the candidates committed a gaffe of campaign-ending proportions. This likely ensures that the full field will continue to soldier on through at least the next debate, which will take place Sept. 16 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

    Here's a look at each candidate's performance - their most memorable lines, their potential weak spots, and whether they helped their cause or will have to hope for better luck next time.