The Note: Who Won, Who Lost and What's Next After The First Republican Debate


ANALYSIS -- ABC's RICK KLEIN: The first debate was a reflection of the field. There was no true winner, just like there is no true frontrunner in the field. The debate revealed weaknesses in virtually all the candidates, as well as the relatively weak positions of those placed in the middle of the action by virtue of their polling positions. Donald Trump dominated -- yet then again he went long stretches of the debate without being the only storyline. That might chart the path forward for Republicans, more than any attacks on Trump could impact the race. The heartening news for them was that Trump's rivals were mostly able to break through -- for good or not so good -- on their own, without borrowing any of Trump's reflected celebrity. Ignoring the man in the middle may not work for the duration. But each debate lives in its own space, and there was at least some breathing room for candidates who don't have reality show deals. READ MORE:


--THESE WERE TRUMP'S MOST MEMORABLE LINES. Donald Trump was literally the center of attention at the first GOP presidential debate last night in Cleveland. And, as expected, the outspoken candidate didn't pull his punches, bringing his bombastic style to the stage, ABC's VERONICA STRACQUALURSI notes. Here are some of the Donald's most memorable lines.

--THE DEBATE BY THE NUMBERS: The stage at Quicken Loans Arena had its shares of laughs, gaffes, attacks, and everything in between. Here's a look at some numbers and highlights from the GOP season's kickoff debate compiled by ABC's LOUISE SIMPSON, ABIGAIL GOLDRING, and SUMMER FIELDS:

THIS WEEK ON THIS WEEK: The powerhouse roundtable debates the week in politics, with ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd, Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile, Republican strategist Sara Fagen, and Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and hosts of "With All Due Respect." See the whole political picture, Sunday on "This Week."



WHY DONALD TRUMP GOT BOOED LAST NIGHT. Donald Trump last night refused to pledge his support for the eventual Republican presidential nominee -- unless it's him -- earning him boos from the audience at the first GOP debate, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes. "I can totally make that pledge if I'm the nominee," he said when Fox News host Bret Baier asked candidates whether they would promise to support whoever clinches the nomination. But, "I will not make the pledge at this time," Trump said, as the audience booed. The real estate mogul instead reserved the right to run as a third-party candidate. Though he said he can "fully understand" the ramifications --- a third-party candidacy would possibly give Democrats the edge --- he refused to grant his competitors that "leverage." "I want to win as the Republican," he said. "I want to run as the Republican nominee."

--THAT'S WHEN RIVAL CANDIDATE SEN. RAND PAUL CHIMED IN: "This is what's wrong. He buys and sells politicians of all stripes!" the Kentucky senator said. "He's already hedging his bet on the Clintons. Okay? If he doesn't run as an Republican, maybe he supports Clinton or maybe he runs as an independent. But I tell you, he's already hedging his bets because he's used to buying politicians." "I've given you plenty of money," Trump fired back.

FLASHBACK: TRUMP ONCE PROPOSED THE BIGGEST TAX HIKE EVER. Donald Trump takes a lot of flak for failing to offer specific policy proposals, but there was a time when he offered a very specific tax plan -- one that raised taxes on the wealthy so much it might have made Bernie Sanders blush. In classic Trump fashion, the plan was big and bold. If enacted, Trump's plan would have been biggest tax hike, in total raw dollars, in history. In a word, it would have been huge. The year was 1999 and Trump was toying with the idea of running for President as a third party candidate. The idea, which Trump says he no longer supports, was to impose a one-time tax of 14.25 percent on every American worth more than $10 million and raise exactly enough money to pay off the debt, ABC's JONATHAN KARL reports.

WHAT JEB SAID AFTER THE DEBATE. At a rally in Cleveland following the debate, Jeb Bush thanked his supporters and said that he hoped the debate showed that, "I'm running with heart and running to win," according to ABC's JESSICA HOPPER. Bush said that there were "mighty fine people on that stage today...but I have the leadership skills not just to talk about it but to do it. He also told supporters that he was "so happy that we didn't have huge skirmishes out there because every time Republicans infight, the end result is the Democrats move up."

TRUMP SAYS HIS MONEY DREW HILLARY CLINTON TO HIS WEDDING. Donald Trump's millions have snagged him favors from several prominent politicians -- including Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, he said last night. "Hillary Clinton, I said be at my wedding, and she came to my wedding," the reality-star-turned-politician said at the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland. "She had no choice because I gave to a foundation." Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton was present at Trump's 2005 wedding to model Melania Knauss --- and Clinton and her husband attended the reception together, ABC's ERIN DOOLEY notes. The Clinton campaign said Trump's comment "hurts [Sec. Clinton's] feelings," according to spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri. "That's the only reason he invited her?" she questioned.

TOP 8 MOMENTS FROM THE PRE-DEBATE FORUM. It was called the "kids' table," the "best of the rest," and the "junior varsity debate." But for seven GOP presidential contenders, the forum before the first official Republican presidential debate last night, offered one of the best opportunities for these White House hopefuls to climb out of the lower tier and, perhaps, steal a spot in the Top 10 before the next debate in September. ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE, RYAN STRUYK, RICK KLEIN, and MICHAEL FALCONE highlight eight of the most important moments from the debate before the main event.

CARLY FIORINA'S BUZZY PERFORMANCE. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO and Republican presidential contender Carly Fiorina came out swinging during the pre-debate Republican forum and generated a buzz on social media with her digs at Hillary Clinton among others, ABC's KATHERINE FAULDERS writes. "Hillary Clinton lies about Benghazi, she lies about e-mails. She is still defending planned parenthood. And she is still her party's frontrunner," she said. "We need a nominee who is going to throw every punch, not pull punches, and someone who cannot stumble before he even gets into the ring." And her two words to describe Clinton? "Not trustworthy. No Accomplishments." Here are more highlights from her performance:

NOTED: FIORINA BRIEFLY OVERTAKES DONALD TRUMP ON GOOGLE SEARCH. Although she didn't qualify for Fox News' 9 p.m. debate, Fiorina did manage to briefly surpass current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in Google searches after the pre-debate forum, according to the Google Trends Twitter page, according to ABC's ERIN DOOLEY.

RICK PERRY'S CAMPAIGN DENIES HE SAID 'RONALD RAVEN.' Did Rick Perry have another 'oops' moment? In answering a question on illegal immigration, the former Texas governor meant to mention the GOP icon Ronald Reagan, but some said it sounded as if he slipped up and called the 40th president by the wrong name -- "Ronald Raven." But campaign spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said Perry "clearly said Ronald Reagan," according to ABC's BEN GITTLESON and VERONICA STRACQUALURSI.

WHY SOME DEMOCRATS ARE CALLING NEW PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE SCHEDULE 'RIDICULOUS.' Democrats rolled out a schedule for their own six debates yesterday -- but not everybody is happy about it. Martin O'Malley's campaign called the schedule "ridiculous," asserting that Democrats are hosting a small number of debates in order to help Hillary Clinton maintain her frontrunner status. Democrats are slated to host four of their six debates before the Iowa caucuses in January, according to a statement released yesterday morning. Bernie Sanders, who is polling in the high teens nationally, has also asked for more debates, even rolling out an online petition requesting debates earlier in the race for the nomination, ABC's RYAN STRUYK reports. In a statement, Sanders said he was "disappointed, but not surprised" by the debate schedule.

RICK SANTORUM STAFFERS SWITCH TACTICS, FORM SUPER PAC. A new super PAC has launched to back Rick Santorum's second run for president. This comes as the runner-up for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination works to find his footing amid low fundraising totals and a crowded field. The super PAC, Take America Back PAC, is being run by Santorum's former campaign manager and two other staff members who left his campaign last month to support him on their own. The group filed with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday, according to ABC's BEN GITTLESON and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE. "We're excited about moving forward," the former campaign manager, Terry Allen, told ABC News. "We're just getting going."


--KIM KARDASHIAN GETS A SELFIE WITH HILLARY CLINTON. Instead of watching the Republican presidential debate, Hillary Clinton found a celebrity to hang out with: Kim Kardashian. During the debate, Kardashian tweeted she was "excited to be meeting our next President tonight!! Maybe she'll take a selfie with me." Kardashian, it turns out, was on her way to a fundraiser for Clinton, hosted by Scooter Braun --- the music manager of Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, according to ABC's LIZ KREUTZ. A few hours later, she did indeed get her selfie. Kanye, included. INSIDE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE HILLARY CLINTON'S CAMPAIGN OFFICE DURING THE GOP DEBATES:

--FORMER FOOTBALL STAR BRADY QUINN ENDORSES JEB BUSH. Republican candidate Jeb Bush scored a famous endorsement yesterday: NFL quarterback Brady Quinn, known for his time with the Cleveland Browns. "I had the pleasure of living in Florida and experiencing first-hand the successful work of Governor Jeb Bush," Quinn said in a statement. "I believe Gov. Bush is the leader who can provide the next generation with the best chance to succeed." This week Quinn will travel to Chicago to attend a campaign event for Bush with youngest son, Jeb Jr. in Chicago on Friday, ABC's CANDACE SMITH notes.


"WANT TO KNOW THE 2016 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE? LOOK TO TEXAS," A Fox News Op-Ed by Joe Brettell. "With the parade of Republican nominees stepping onto the stage in Cleveland and using social media to reserve their place at the electoral starting gate, the candidates read as an anthropological study of the Grand Old Party. From establishment favored moderates like former Florida Governor Jeb Bush to Tea Party favorites like Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the first debate stage in Cleveland will serve as a lesson in the progression of the Republican Party from Eisenhower onward. Yet it's difficult to think of recent nomination process where one state influenced the candidates more than Texas has the 2016 field. In fact, smart handicappers seeking to divine who will be accepting the party nomination next year could look at the recent eras of Texas politics when trying to divine who will win." READ MORE:


@sswinkgma: .@GStephanopoulos "Will you be the front runner going into the next debate? "Trump-"I would think so."

@MichaelCohen212: A total setup by @FrankLuntz and #FOXNEWSDEBATE to try to lower #Trump2016 high poll numbers. American people will not fall for your tricks.

@FiveThirtyEight: The @FoxNews moderators managed to cover a lot of topics tonight, but not race: #GOPDebate

@kakukowski: .@ScottWalker: You lead in your own actions and deeds not just by denouncing people @CBSThisMorning #GOPDebate

@CookPolitical: .@CharlieCookDC's quick reaction to the first #GOPDebate: