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The Third GOP Debate Was a Complete Trainwreck

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GOP candidates faced off in their third debate Wednesday night and as expected, it was a circus — but not for all the reasons you might expect.

It's debatable who the night's winners were, but the biggest loser of the evening? Most pundits seem to agree that CNBC, the network hosting the debate, took the cake for worst performance, with moderators sparring with the candidates more often than the candidates were sparring with each other.

The debate started 10 minutes late, moderators Carl Quintanilla, John Harwood and Becky Quick were booed several times for their questions, and the moderators struggled to enforce time limits and keep candidates on topic at times. There was so much disorganization, lack of control and crosstalk throughout the evening that many viewers were left with a headache.

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Early on, CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla asked the candidates their biggest weaknesses and the answers were rather comical: Donald Trump said he trusts people too much, Mike Huckabee couldn't think of any weaknesses, Carly Fiorina joked that she was told she didn't smile enough in the last debate and Ted Cruz had perhaps the most bizarre answer, when he said "if you want somebody to grab a beer with, I may not be that guy, but if you want someone to drive you home — I will get the job done. And I will get you home."

But Florida Senator Marco Rubio walked away from last night's debate looking like a contender, if he didn't already appear to be before last night's debate. And Jeb Bush, who has struggled in the polls and needed the debate to go well, not only came out not looking any better, but was also the candidate with the second-least amount of talk time during the night.

At one point, Bush attacked Rubio's senate attendance and voting record, but Rubio fought back saying Bush was only just now attacking him for his attendance because somebody told him it would help him.

At another part of the debate, moderator Beck Quick asked Trump about comments he made calling Sen. Rubio Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's "personal senator" because of his support for the H1-B visa program for skilled workers, but Trump denied having ever said the comments. When he challenged Quick, she struggled to cite the source and apologized to Trump — although multiple news outlets highlighted after the debate that the comment actually came from Trump's own website.

For once, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said something most people watching the debate could agree with when he criticized the moderators for focusing on petty questions rather than "substantive issues people care about."

Reacting to Quick's stumble on Twitter, Fox's Megyn Kelly (whom Trump has been combative with since she moderated the first Republican debate) said:

Moderator John Harwood was booed by the audience and ignored by the candidates when he tried to pit Mike Huckabee against Donald Trump, asking if he thought Trump was someone with "the moral authority to unite the country." In fact Huckabee's off-the-wall answer almost left some questioning whether he was campaigning for Trump instead of himself.

For once, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said something most people watching the debate could agree with when he criticized the moderators for focusing on petty questions rather than "substantive issues people care about."

"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media," Cruz said, with cheers from the audience behind him at the University of Colorado.

"This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions: 'Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don't you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?'

Even New Jersey Governor Chris Christie flat out told the moderators that they were being rude. Christie also was angered over the discussion about fantasy football rather than more serious issues such as the national debt. (However, to be fair, most of the candidates dodged answering the legitimate questions asked as well.) Ben Carson, the former surgeon and current GOP front-runner who has also been in the news for a string of bone-headed comments recently, was also not amused with the moderators questions.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said in an interview with CNN after the debate that he was "proud of the candidates for pretty much sticking together" in standing up to the questions asked by moderators but that he was disappointed with both the moderators and the network for the way the debate was conducted.

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