Republican presidential candidates on Wednesday gathered for their third debate in Boulder, Colorado, slinging fierce attacks at the CNBC moderators, the media as a whole and at times each other. Winding answers on tax plans, pot and fantasy football went off course with some perplexing comments among the 10 (!) top-tier candidates at the main stage debate. From tweets and videos leading up the debate, to the head-scratching lines heard under the spotlight, the event was filled with quirky moments.
Jeb Bush’s “debating boots”
Coming soon to a Black Friday sale near you. Ahead of the debate, the former Florida governor tweeted a picture of his shiny black cowboy boots with his name written in gold lettering. “Got my debating boots on!” he tweeted, naturally using his trademark exclamation mark.
Marco Rubio’s “behind the scenes” debate prep videos
Days leading up to the debate, the Florida senator shared a bird call for millennials, or YouTube videos depicting him as the young and hip and casual candidate America needs. One of the reality-show-style videos showed Rubio sitting behind his desk “candidly” getting an update on Cruz, Bush and Carson – only it’s revealed he’s actually inquiring about players on his fantasy football team. The other video follows Rubio getting out of his car and walking through some sort of garage or other non-intimidating storage space answering the questions he won’t be asked at the debate, like who’s the most famous person he’s ever texted and who he’d choose between rappers Tupac or Biggie.
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When Mike Huckabee mentioned the runaway blimp
“Blimp.” Drink! It was only a matter of time before someone found a way to channel the massive military blimp that landed in Pennsylvania just hours before the debate. Huckabee compared it to the U.S. government. “It’s a perfect example of government,” the Arkansas governor began. “It’s something the government made – basically a bag of gas – that cut loose, destroyed everything in it’s path, left thousands of people powerless but they couldn’t get rid of it because we had too much money invested in it so we had to keep it.”
All of the non-responses to the “biggest weakness” question
It’s a rule of thumb that when answering this question you want to try and spin it positively, but some of these answers didn’t resemble a weakness at all. Ohio Gov. John Kasich turned his personal weakness into a collective one, saying “we are picking someone who cannot do this job”; Huckabee started off by saying “I don’t really have any weaknesses that I can think of”; Carly Fiorina said she was told she didn’t smile enough in the last debate; and Sen. Rand Paul talked about his plan to filibuster the budget deal. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie instead turned to an attack on the Democratic field. And then there was Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who ended up at the end of his response saying: “If you want someone 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.”
Rand Paul advocating for the teeniest, tiniest government
”I want a government so small I can barely see it,” the Kentucky senator said.
The Krispy Kreme analogy
“It’s like a 400-pound man saying, ‘I’m going to go on a diet, but I’m eating a sack of Krispy Kremes before I do,’” Huckabee said in a response to Christie, using another metaphor to attack the government. Unclear whether the analogy was a dig at Christie’s weight.
Rubio’s “Sallie Mae” mistress joke
When asked to defend his financial history and struggles, the dominating candidate of the night said with a smirk that when his marriage was still new, he had to explain to his wife why every month, $1,000 dollars was being taken out of his paycheck and going to “Sallie Mae.” “Try explaining that to my wife,” he said.
Donald Trump on carrying a gun, being “unpredictable”
Donald Trump said that he feels good about employees bringing guns to work and said that he’s got a permit. Then, in the same breath, he added: “I carry on occasion, sometimes a lot. I like to be unpredictable.”
Jeb Bush promising to give out a “warm kiss”
”You find me a Democrat for cutting spending $10, and I’ll give them a warm kiss,” Bush responded to a budget question. Just, why?
Ted Cruz offering to buy a pot brownie for the moderator
After attacking the CNBC hosts for what he called biased media coverage and “cage match” questioning, Cruz attempted to soften the jabs. Moderator Carl Quintanilla responded to Cruz’s criticism by saying, “We’re clearly not having that beer you mentioned,” to which Cruz replied: “I’ll buy you a tequila … or even some famous Colorado brownies.” Marijuana is legal in the state – though pot was barely a talking point at the debate throughout the night.
Huckabee saying he loves Trump, shows off his Trump tie
Where’s the fashion police? While Jeb Bush was mocked for his funeral-wear on Twitter, Huckabee drew attention to the fact that he was wearing a tie made by the business mogul, who he loves, apparently. “I love Donald Trump. He is a good man. I’m wearing a Trump tie tonight. Get over that one, okay?” he said.
Carly Fiorina literally saying: I was fired
Rand Paul getting angry at seniors
“It’s your grandparent’s fault for having too many damn kids,” he said in a defense of why he thinks Medicare is broken.
Jeb Bush hating on French workers
In an attempt to hurt Rubio for skipping Senate votes and not “showing up to work” while on the campaign trail, Bush went on a bit of tangent when he said, “the Senate, what is it like a French work week? You get like three days where you have to show up?” The French ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, shot back on Twitter, writing, “French people are on average more productive than U.S. workers, and have a longer working week than their German counterparts.”