Here’s What Happened Behind the Scenes at Last Night’s Republican Debate

Inside scoop from the Reagan Library spin room

The second Republican debate took place last night in Simi Valley at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library, giving the 15 top-ranked Republican candidates a chance to prove their political prowess to the American public. With four White House hopefuls sharing the stage for the 3 p.m. debate (Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham) and the other 11 candidates participating in the prime-time 5 p.m. line-up (Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and Chris Christie), the pressure was on for each of the politicians to stand out from the rest of the pack.

In the month and-a-half since the first debate in Cleveland, the crowded Republican race has picked up steam, with Trump making headlines for his statements about his political rivals. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone he was less than complimentary about Fiorina’s appearance, saying, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?” (Trump later said that he was referring to Fiorina’s persona, not her actual, you know, face.) One of the most talked about moments of the night came when moderator Jake Tapper gave Fiorina the chance to comment on Trump’s persona. She did so pointedly: “I think women all over the country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.”

Beyond the walls of the debate hall, hundreds of journalists camped out in the filing room to cover every second of the action, and, when the debate was finished, reporters swarmed candidates in the spin room to get their take on how things went. Here’s what didn’t make it to the primetime telecast:

debate1Trump supporters—and Trump protestors—arrived early
By noon, more than a dozen people were gathered near the turn-off to the Reagan Library with signs. As the day went on, even more showed up to make sure their voices were heard.

debate2The spin room is no joke
Reporters waiting for candidates at the entrance to the spin room took their post-interview tasks very seriously. All was well and good until someone realized the candidates would be entering from the doors on the opposite side of the room. A minor stampede ensued.


The evening wasn’t entirely about the Republicans
U.S. representative and chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz was on hand to field questions from reporters both before and after the debate. (Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was in attendance as well.)

debate4Social media unites us
However you feel about the upcoming election, can we agree the candidate-specific Snapchat geofilters were pretty amazing? Marco Rubio’s geofilter reminded Simi Valley millennials that “Rubio is a rap fan whose favorite artists include NWA, Tupac, and Pit Bull,” while Jeb Bush’s informed us that “Bush is fluent in Spanish and his favorite movie is Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.