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Word-Clouding the Second GOP Debate

The eleven Republican candidates on the debate stage Wednesday night may have let out some surprising jabs and zingers in the heat of debate last night, but recurring references still dominated the discussion.

To see just how many times certain issues were discussed, we threw the full transcript of the debate into Wordle.net, which produced a “word cloud” of the most used phrases. Here are the results of the word cloud, with the largest words being the most frequently mentioned during the debate:

Some of the most repeated words suggest where the candidates’ focus was during the debate. These are some of the most noteworthy:

1. Trump. Of all the names spoken last night, Donald Trump was the most mentioned. But a Trump-dominated conversation may not have worked out in his favor—the other Republican candidates were ready for the GOP frontrunner, countering his attacks and launching some of their own repeatedly throughout the debate.

2. Reagan. The candidates must have felt inspired by their location at the Ronald Reagan Library in California, because references to the former president and GOP icon were especially frequent last night. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush tied for most Reagan mentions at five each, while Rubio, Kasich, Paul, Huckabee, Cruz, Carson, and Christie alluded to him somewhere between one and three times.

3. Clinton. When they weren’t attacking each other, the GOP contenders came down on the Obama administration, especially Hillary Clinton. The Democratic candidate received the most criticism, especially from Jeb Bush, who partially blamed her for “insecurity the likes of which we never would have imagined” in the U.S. Bush also accused Trump of being a Hillary supporter, and Carly Fiorina seized the opportunity to distinguish herself from her female opponent.

4. Iran and Planned Parenthood. The candidates wasted no time denouncing the Iran nuclear deal and government funding for Planned Parenthood, both hot-button issues within the GOP. Most noteworthy was Carly Fiorina’s fiery dare to President Obama and Hillary Clinton to “watch the tapes,” referring to the Planned Parenthood sting video released in July. Nearly every candidate debated the implications of the Iran nuclear deal on Middle East relations, and advocated defense for U.S. allies in Israel and elsewhere.