Republican Debate Shatters Fox News Rating Record, 24 Million Watched

Trump Won’t Rule-Out Third Party Run If He Doesn’t Get Nomination 2:53

An estimated 24 million people watched Fox News Channel's prime-time debate with the top 10 Republican presidential candidates, the highest-rated broadcast in the network's history.

The Nielsen company said Thursday's debate ratings more than doubled Fox News' best ratings in the past, for election night 2012. A debate with seven lower-polling candidates earlier Thursday had 6.1 million viewers.

The debate turned into a slugfest with front-runner Donald Trump in particular feeling the heat. He tweeted out criticism of the network's three moderators as "not very good or professional" and retweeted a message from a supporter who called the network's Megyn Kelly a "bimbo."

Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes defended his moderators, calling it "the best political debate team ever put on television."

Winners and Losers at GOP’s Big Debate Face-off 1:18