The new format was a huge success — not only beating the ratings record for a primary debate, but offering much more substantive discussions. Instant polling of potential GOP voters by CNN found that most viewers saw the debate as much more informative than the last. John Plummer, of Duluth MI (a member of the CNN focus group) said, "I thought Suzy gave Trump all he could handle when she questioned his understanding of the NATO alliance. I kind of understand now how Russia would be upset by our encroachment on their borders, even if Trump does think Putin is a 'big bald stupid loser poo poo head'." One of the more heated exchanges of the night came from this same debate, with Trump at one point screaming at Suzy, "Don't tell me Europe isn't a country you little shit, I could buy and sell you like a school lunch." Other issues that were notably absent from the first debate were also discussed, including climate change, the economy, education and Citizens United.
Dr. Ben Carson may have been the big winner of the night, scoring with the crowd in a debate with Billy Glechick of Ronald Reagan Elementary, Glastonbury CT. Billy made the mistake of suggesting that we shouldn't be making policy based on the writings of a 3,000 year old book, for which he was booed relentlessly by the partisan Republican crowd — the booing only subsiding when Jeff Foxworthy stepped in and disarmed the crowd with a clever "You know you're a redneck..." joke. Carson chided Billy in is his signature hushed monotone voice, "God wouldn't have written the bible if he wanted us to determine policy ourselves," bringing the crowd to its feet.
Scott Walker may have been the big loser. Governor Walker seemed to become disoriented when his opponent (Sally Crim of Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Binghampton NY) used the word "proliferation" in a debate about mideast policy. At first Governor Walker appeared to be looking for his notes (which there were none, as they were not allowed by debate rules) and then began to mutter something about unions under his breath, finally becoming silent and folding his hands on the lectern. The uncomfortable silence was mercifully ended when Foxworthy awkwardly went to the next question.
The biggest drama of the night occurred between the preliminary and main debates. Senator Lindsey Graham, who had repeatedly berated his debate opponent (3rd Grader Tommy Huff, Rainbow Elementary, Houghs Neck NY) for being soft on terrorism during their earlier debate, was beaten senseless by Tommy during the customary handshake session. Senator Graham was seen being escorted off the stage in tears by security — Tommy's mother sent him to bed without supper.
For his part, Jeff Foxworthy did a noteworthy job moderating the debate. Considering that this was his first time moderating a debate, he was asked how difficult it was for him — Foxworthy answered, "I have a lot of experience with kids, so it really wasn't anything out of the ordinary for me."