Winners and Losers of the 5th Republican Presidential Debate

ABC News' political analyst Matthew Dowd on whether Donald Trump remains the frontrunner in the race.
4:34 | 12/16/15

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Transcript for Winners and Losers of the 5th Republican Presidential Debate
The main event lighting up the trip in Las Vegas last night. 1400 people packing the venetian hotel and casino last night. Donald Trump said it felt more like the academy award. Likes having the gold around. He took tough hits from Jeb bush, the most lively performance yet from governor bush, the big question, did it change his place in the race. Did anything change? You saw Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio go at it, as well, and we're going to talk about this with bill O'Reilly who is standing by with his analysis. There he is right there. We'll begin, though, with ABC's Cecilia Vega. She is in Las Vegas for all the action. Good morning, Cecilia. Reporter: Hey, George, good morning to you. I'm still outside the venetian low tell. All eyes inside that hall last night on Donald Trump, the focus was on national security, but Donald Trump says he had the best debate so far. The gloves were off almost as soon as the opening bell rang. Run for president. You're a tough guy, Jeb. We need to have a leader that is -- Real tough. You'll never be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency. I'm at 43 and you're at 3. Doesn't matter. Reporter: It was Donald Trump versus Jeb bush on how to fight Isis. With Jeb's attitude we will never be great again. That I can tell you. Reporter: And on that proposal that's controversial to ban muslims. Donald Trump is great at the one-liners but he's a chaos candidate and would be a chaos president. Jeb doesn't really believe I'm unhinged. He said that very simply because he has failed in this campaign. It's been a total disaster. Nobody cares. Reporter: There was Donald Trump versus Rand Paul. Is Donald Trump a serious candidate? The reason I ask this -- Reporter: But the biggest grudge match at all. He has a wonderful temper. Reporter: Trump versus the Texas senator infringing on his front-runner standings in the poll never happened. Instead, it was Ted Cruz versus Marco Rubio, both vying to be the party's alternative to the brash billionaire in the lead. Does Ted Cruz rule out ever legal identifying people in this country illegally now. Senator Cruz. I have never supported -- Do you rule it out. I have never supported legalization and I don't intend to. Because you know -- Reporter: Some like Dr. Ben Carson struggling to break out of the pack. But the fact of the matter is, look and see what I've done. And that speaks volumes about strength. Reporter: After it was all over. Mr. Trump, did Jeb bush have it out for you tonight? No, he has to do what he has to do. I fully understand. He's having a hard time and he wants to get his Numbers up. Reporter: Well, Jeb bush thought he had a good night too. This is the final, this was the final republican debate of 2015 and I can tell you there have been a lot of questions about whether trump might stage an independent run if he does not win this nomination. He said un equivocally last night he will not do that, robin, he says he's totally committed to the republican party. We'll talk about that. Thank you, Cecilia. Matthew dowd, a senior adviser to president George W. Bush and worked on campaigns for both parties is here. So, the front-runner, how did he do. Donald Trump didn't damage himself at all. This is the last debate before Christmas and Donald Trump will go into Christmas holidays into the new year as the dominant front-runner. The interesting thing, like yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, yes, gop, Donald Trump may be your nominee. And you say that even more so now because of what trump said, we heard Cecilia as she said at the end of her reporting now he's saying, I'm not going to run as an independent. You read something into that. I thought it was a big tell at the end of it. Up to this time he's been leaning in I may or may not. He sees himself in the dominant place and sees himself as the winner of the gop nomination process. Ted Cruz has been making some inroads and gaining some ground. How did he do? I thought he did fine. He had momentum coming in. He didn't do anything to push it forward so I think in that way he fell short of where he kneed to go in this. I think he probably wins Iowa but the problem for Ted Cruz is where does he win after Iowa. So did anybody in your estimation break out. I thought the two breakout people were Marco Rubio, he's always good at these debate, probably won every single debate in the course of this and Chris Christie did some good contrasting to everybody else on stage. The problem is, can anybody take a place of Donald Trump in the course of this race and I think that's the question we don't know. You feel some will drop out by January. I think it's going to go from a football team to a baseball team to a basketball team in January which is probably five or six people on stage. I knew you would give one of

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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