The fifth debate among candidates vying for Republican presidential nomination was held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. The two-hour event was broadcast live on CNN and moderated by Wolf Blitzer, Hugh Hewitt and Dana Bash.

Nine candidates met the criteria to appear in the so-called “main event,” while four others debated earlier on the “undercard.”

Five takeaways from the “Main Event:”

  1. Nevada is a swing state with a large Hispanic population and Rubio received applause that, at times, had a “hometown” feel – he spent part of his childhood in Las Vegas, where his father was a bartender and his mother a hotel maid. His Hispanic appeal might carry over, especially  in swing state Colorado.
  1. Both Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson said they are committed to seeking the nomination of the party and will not run as independents.
  1. Pundits have predicted that the large field will eventually come down to a Rubio versus Cruz match-up, which if true, was previewed as the two engaged in more direct verbal sparring than in previous debates. Real differences in their positions on immigration, terrorism and security are emerging that may give voters a real choice in the primaries.
  1. Governor Chris Christie isn’t going away and Jeb Bush’s candidacy may be on life support, but he still had moments going after Donald Trump. Rand Paul made the most of his limited time by questioning whether Trump’s proposals on security were unconstitutional.
  1. Probably the single most important takeaway from the night: There was no knockout blow – the 13-way slugfest continues.

If there is a sixth thing to note about the debate, it would be the media's revelation of itself as rather more cynical and hardbitten than previously thought in its reaction to Dr. Ben Carson's moment of silence for the victims of the San Bernardino massacre. ABC, NBC, ESPN and NPR tweeted out mocking comments.


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