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Fox News Channel debate moderators Wallace, Kelly and Baier start the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland
Fox News Channel debate moderators (L-R), Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Brett Baier, start the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015.  Photograph by Aaron Josefczyk — Reuters

The real winner of the GOP debate: Megyn Kelly

Aug 07, 2015

Forget the candidates. Megyn Kelly was the real breakout star of Thursday night's Republican presidential primary debate.

The Fox News anchor asked tough questions that drew out the most controversial, surprising and memorable answers of the night.

She prompted Ohio Governor John Kasich to reveal his take on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. "Our court has ruled and I said we’ll accept it,” Kasich said. “And guess what? I just went to a wedding of a friend of mine who is gay."

She challenged Florida Senator Marco Rubio on his previous support of abortion exceptions for victims of incest and rape. And he denied it, "I have never advocated that," he said. He later added, "I personally believe that you do not correct one tragedy with a second tragedy—that’s how I personally feel, very strongly about.”

Kelly even got Dr. Ben Carson to all but endorse waterboarding. "What we do in order to get the info that we need is our business," he said. "And I wouldn't necessarily be broadcasting to everybody what we're going to do."

But the most talked about moments involved Donald Trump. Kelly called him out for once being pro-choice, for identifying as a Democrat and for supporting Hillary Clinton.

The two had their first showdown early on in the debate. Kelly put the business mogul on blast for calling women names like “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”

She continued, “Your Twitter account has several disparaging comments about women’s looks. You once told a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president, and how will you answer the charge from Hillary Clinton, who was likely to be the Democratic nominee, that you are part of the war on women?”

Trump’s response? That political correctness is distracting the country from “winning.” But that wasn’t all—he threatened Kelly and said that although he’s been nice to her in the past, her time is up.

And the real estate mogul wasn’t bluffing. Trump went on an anti-Megyn Kelly Twitter rampage until early Friday morning.

There's been no response from Kelly yet via Twitter. But other unlikely folks have come out in support of her performance.

It's probably a smart move that Kelly hasn't addressed the Trump Twitter tantrum. It's always good to quit while you're ahead.

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