So, what Did Iowa voters think of the first GOP primary debate?
Our team attended watch parties and reached out to dozens of Iowa GOP voters to get their take on the debate. Here’s what some of them had to say:
“I thought Trump showed up,” said Jodi Reindl of Osceola, Iowa, who attended a debate watch party for Trump backers. “I thought he did wonderful like he normally does. He came out and spoke the truth—and that’s what people are looking for.”
A 54 year-old Walker supporter from Des Moines said that she was pleased with the Wisconsin governor’s performance, but the debate reinforced that she would consider voting for Trump.
“He’s really taken my attention because he’s been so outspoken,” she said.
While she said that FOX News’ treatment of Trump was mostly fair, she wasn’t pleased at Megyn Kelly’s question about Trump’s past statements about women, and she didn’t like Trump’s answer about Rosie O’Donnell either. “I was disappointed that things had to start off like that,” she said.
For this voter, though, the big winner of the night was Carly Fiorina. “I think she did the very best,” she told NBC. “The way she gave her answers – she was so poised.”
Ron Lang, who owns a farming equipment company in Grinnell, is a Trump supporter who also wasn’t deterred by his candidate’s brashness.
“He told it like it is, and a lot of people aren’t used to that,” he said. “They’re used to the canned messages, and I think Trump brought a perspective that a lot of people have open arms and open ears to. And we need to get the train back on the tracks, and I think he can do it.”
Another 68 year-old retiree from southeast Iowa said that Carson and Rubio were the night’s big winners.
“Ben Carson helped himself more than the rest, Rubio was his usual informed self and presented himself very well. Christie, Huckabee and Bush were also well prepared” he said.
But he also reiterated an observation from Trump fans and skeptics alike, saying “The moderators appeared to be trying to start friction among some of the candidates, this was not surprising from Fox.”
NBC's Vaughn Hillyard contributed to this report