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The 2016 Republican Presidential Primary is the preliminary round in the Republican party's candidate selection process for the upcoming 2016 general election for the presidency of the United States. The series of state caucuses and primaries will begin in February 2016 and end the following June.
Following the defeat of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to Barack Obama in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the Republican National Committee passed new party rules to condense the period of primary elections by nearly half, from six months to three-and-a-half, due to widespread concerns that a longer season could harm the leading candidate’s campaign. On April 6th, 2014, The Washington Post published an article about the potential Republican party candidates for the upcoming election, noting they were beginning to "quietly study up on issues and cultivate ties to pundits and luminaries from previous administrations."
All of the candidates have official web presences. Donald Trump's campaign web site has become popular for the Trump-themed apparel available for purchase, like the infamous Make America Great Again hat, while Jeb Bush's campaign web site's merchandise raised a different kind of controversy when he offered an expensive guacamole-making bowl for purchase.
As of February 1st, 2015, the Republican candidate with the largest social media presence was Donald Trump, who has 5.95 million followers on Twitter and 5.54 million likes on his official Facebook page. By comparison, Ted Cruz, the race's other frontrunner at the time of the Iowa caucuses, has only 760,000 followers on Twitter and 1.8 million likes on his Facebook page, and Marco Rubio, who was in third place according to most polls, has 1.1 million followers on Twitter and 1.22 million likes on Facebook. Ben Carson, who has 1.11 million followers on Twitter, is the only candidate to approach Trump in terms of social media prowess, with a little over 5 million likes on his Facebook page. Some other candidates have far fewer supporters online, like Chris Christie, who has only 148,000 likes on Facebook and 88,000 followers on Twitter.
On March 23rd, 2015, Ted Cruz declared his bid for the Republican Party nomination in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election (shown below, left). On April 7th, Rand Paul announced his candidacy for presidency (shown below, right). That day, Paul's Twitter feed began encouraging supporters to tweet photographs of themselves holding signs with the hashtag “#StandWithRand.”
On April 13th, Marco Rubio announced he was joining the presidential race during a press conference in Miami, Florida (shown below, left). On May 5th, former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee declared his bid in the 2016 election (shown below, right).
On May 27th, Rick Santorum announced his plans to run for president from a factory in Cabot, Pennsylvania (shown below, left). On June 14th, former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush tweeted a teaser logo for his upcoming presidential campaign, featuring the name “Jeb” followed by an exclamation point. The following day, Bush officially announced his candidacy for the Republican Party nomination in the 2016 United States Presidential election.
On June 16th, Donald Trump announced his bid for the Republican nomination (shown below, left). On June 30th, 2015, Chris Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, announced his presidential candidacy at Livingston High School, in Livingston, NJ (shown below, right).
By July 2016, a total of 32 Republican Party members had announced their bid for the 2016 presidential primaries; Other candidates who declared and later withdrew from the race includes former Hewlett Packard executive Carly Fiorina, Former Governor of New York George Pataki, the Governor of Ohio John Kasich, Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, Lindsay Graham, South Carolina Senator who kicked off his run July 13th as a "president who will fight and win for America" (shown below, right) but later left the race with $1.2 million in campaign debt, and Bobby Jindal, the former Governor of Louisiana who announced his run with a surveillance-style video where he tells his children about his campaign (show below, left) before leaving the race in November.
Additional Republicans who didn't officially announce candidacy but publicly showed interest or formed an exploratory committees include: the former Governor of Maryland Robert Ehrlich, former Governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore and New York congressman Peter T. King.
Fox News Debate: August 6th
On August 6th, the first round of the Republican Party's presidential debate took place in two segments at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Hosted by Fox News and Facebook, the event began at 5 p.m. (EST) with an hour-long opening debate among seven candidates whose poll results didn't qualify for the main event (Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, and George Pataki), followed by a two-hour long, prime time debate at 9 p.m. (EST) among 10 candidates with the highest numbers based on five national polls (Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and John Kasich.).
Happy Hour Debate
From the first segment of the debate, Hewlett-Packard's former chief executive Carly Fiorina emerged as the strongest performer of the seven, with Nate Silver noting that the candidate generated the most Google search traffic online during the first half of the hour-long debate. Meanwhile, the former Texas governor Rick Perry made the headlines once again after he appeared to mispronounce former U.S. president Ronald Reagan's name as Ronald Raven, which prompted a series of jokes involving references to Edgar Allan Poe, the Baltimore Ravens and more.
As anticipated by many, Donald Trump took the centerstage at the main event with unrestrained word choices and quotable soundbites in his typically outspoken manner, even sparring with Fox News' debate moderator Megyn Kelly at times upon being asked sharp questions.
CNN Debate: September 16th
On September 16th, 2015, the second round of the Republican Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, began at 6:00 p.m. (EST) with an undercard session among four candidates who failed to reach the top 11 in polls but passed the criteria of an average of 1% support in any of three polls conducted between July and September (Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and George Pataki). Continuing the two-part format adopted by Fox News in the first round of the debate, CNN's undercard debate was followed by the main event at 8:00 p.m., joined by the top 11 candidates in pollings, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio.
The "second-tier" CNN Republican presidential debate, which was joined by George Pataki, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum and Lindsey Graham, was largely met with lukewarm reception from the news outlets and social media, as the four underdog candidates struggled in search of a breakout moment. According to the AP, the shadow of Donald Trump dominated the early minutes of the debate, with the first five questions directed at the candidates all relating to their opinions regarding the Republican frontrunner, while all four candidates were also noted for heavily citing Ronald Reagan's quotes throughout the televised event. Other notable moments from the undercard debate included George Pataki's decisively firm stance against Kim Davis and her noncompliance with the Supreme Court's decision, as well as Lindsey Graham's tongue-in-cheek pledge to "drink more" as the first thing he would do as the president.
In contrary to the ever-growing hype and anticipation behind Donald Trump's candidacy, the main debate among the 11 top Republican candidates was largely marked by Carly Fiorina's refined speeches and responses, Donald Trump's hit-or-miss performance in using his aggressive rhetorics to advantage, as well as Jeb Bush's mildly unexpected moments that many experts believe have placed him in a favorable light, including his open admission to having smoked weed as a youth and issuing a public apology to his mother on live television. Meanwhile on Twitter, many viewers of the debate at home took note of a sharply dressed male audience member who was seated behind the moderator Jake Tapper, giving him the nickname "The Hot Debate Guy".
Fox Business Debate: November 10th, 2015
By this debate, which aired on Fox Business News and was moderated by Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto, the undercard debates had mostly evaporated in the public interest. At this point in time, Ben Carson was growing in popularity, but his past business dealings were being questioned at length. He was asked the first question: to explain his tax plan, which he'd said was based in Biblical tithing; he explained that he would eliminate many tax credits, which usually benefit the working class. Other notable moments included questions to the candidates on immigration, which they all agreed they would attempt to curb, and other foreign policy points, during which time Rand Paul attempted to carve out a distinctive voice as being against hawkishness. The debate did not have as much furor as the others, and was considered to be much more serious; when it comes to who came across the best, many agreed that both Carson and Ted Cruz were frontrunners. Carson reportedly gained 6,800 Twitter followers during the debate alone, doubling the gains made by other candidates.
Second CNN Debate: December 15th, 2015.
Going into the fifth GOP debate, foreign policy was on everyone's mind; the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino by people aligning themselves with Muslims had caused Donald Trump to publicly proclaim that he would ban all Muslims, even Americans, from the country until "we could get this thing figured out." Many predicted that Trump would be attacked on foreign policy during the debate, and he was; Chris Christie called the idea ridiculous and Jeb Bush called Trump "unhinged." In fact, the debate really seemed to focus on the candidates calling Trump out on his antics. Two hashtags were created that night; one, #GOPSongs, rephrased the names of pop songs to align them with jokes about the candidates and their viewpoints. The other, #Trumpface, was used by those tweeting about a particularly strange expression the candidate made during one of the many attacks on him that night.
Second Fox Business Network Debate: January 14th, 2015
This debate followed President Obama's State of the Union Address two days prior, but most of the candidates, with the exception of Marco Rubio, were too busy attacking each other to attack the president. Chris Christie faced hard questions on his record on gun control, and Rand Paul supporters, who attended to support the candidate, who was boycotting, at one point chanted "WE WANT RAND" loudly and repeatedly as Christie was answering a question. Ben Carson looked sleepy, and responded to his few questions nonsensically, and Carly Fiorina didn't get much screen time either. The biggest conflict of the night happened between the two frontrunners – Ted Cruz and Donald Trump – who attacked each other emphatically. After the moderators asked a question about Cruz's eligibility for the race, since he was born in Canada, Trump said that the candidate "couldn't have a question mark over his head." Cruz bit back later in the night, saying that Trump's New York values were not right for the Republican party. After this remark, the hashtag #NewYorkValues was adopted by Twitter users eager to dump on Cruz for the remark – it was tweeted over 25,000 times in the 24 hours following. Cruz later apologized for the term, but that didn't stop the New York Daily News from lambasting him on the cover the next morning.
Final Fox Debate
The final Fox News debate took place on January 28th, 2016, less than a week before the Iowa Caucuses. In advance of the debate, Donald Trump had decided to withdraw, citing disagreements with his treatment by moderator Megyn Kelly. Later, Trump announced that he would be holding his own, live streamed rally at the exact same time as the debate was airing, and that the rally would feature many celebrity guests. While the debate itself was fairly mellow without the presence of Trump, his rally was also not a scene of controversy, with the most notable appearances being two other candidates for president, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.
Primaries and Caucuses
The first caucuses was held on February 1st, 2016 in Iowa, with a total of 17 major candidates entering the race for a simple majority of 1,237 delegates to be nominated as the Republican presidential nominee.
All candidates were campaigning heavily throughout the day. Ted Cruz completed what is called in politics as "the Full Grassley," which means the candidate visited each of the 99 counties in Iowa. The turnout was expected to be higher than in past campaigns due to the competitiveness of both parties' fields. After the Indiana primary on May 3rd, 2016, Trump became the lone major candidate running for the Republican nomination.
Republican National Convention
Stephen Colbert's Takeover Stunt
On the day before the convention, Tom Cahill uploaded a video of Stephen Colbert taking the main stage at the Quicken Loans Arena to mockingly announce the beginning of the "2016 Republican National Committee Hungry for Power Games" in character of Caesar Flickerman, the emcee of the eponymous game in the _Hunger Games _ film series.
On July 18th, the Republican National Convention began at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. Only a few hours into the three-day convention, chaos erupted on the floor when anti-Trump delegates and supporters of the #NeverTrump movement began calling for a roll call vote (by individual count) instead of a voice vote (by verbal response) on a proposed change to the convention rules, which would "unbind the delegates" from the results of the primaries and allow them to vote on their own judgment calls, opening up the possibility of Trump getting blocked from being nominated in the first ballot. By the time the convention's rules committee denied the motion for a roll-call vote on the grounds of insufficient signatures, which was caused by the last-minute withdrawal of three out of nine state delegation that had backed the method, the floor turned into loud exchanges of shouting between the supporters of Trump and his opposition; the Colorado delegation walked out in protest.
The evening's speeches centered on drumming up anti-Obama rhetoric and stoking fear of ISIS, though no speech was as impassioned as former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's. Giuliani boasted, "What I did for New York, Trump will do for America!" and shouted "There is no Black America! There is no White America! There is just America!" Screenshots of Giuliani's fire-and-brimstone speech circulated on Twitter that evening with captions lampooning Giuliani's cartoonish delivery.
Melania Trump Plagiarism Controversy
Later that evening, Melania Trump delivered the keynote speech for the opening night of the RNC, which immediately drew accusations of plagiarism from journalists and the social media for lifting entire passages from Michelle Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, as well as bemusing speculations from internet news blogs on whether Melania inadvertently or knowingly rickrolled the audience by saying "he will never give up and, most importantly, he will never, ever let you down."
Carson Tries to Tie Hillary to Lucifer
Tuesday, July 19th, found the Republicans hammering at Hillary with a long video about Benghazi, which led to chants for her imprisonment, Paul Ryan called for party unity, and Donald Trump officially became the Republican nominee. Meanwhile, Ben Carson delivered a speech that attempted to link Hillary Clinton to Lucifer by bringing up that Clinton wrote her senior thesis on community organizer Saul Alinsky. In Alinsky's book, Rules for Radicals, he acknowledges Lucifer as "the original radical who gained his own kingdom."
"Are we willing to elect someone as president who has, as their role model, somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?" Carson asked the audience.
Cruz Fails to Endorse Trump
Sparks flew again on the convention's third day (July 20th, 2016) when Ted Cruz conspicuously failed to endorse Donald Trump in a speech where he implored Republicans to "vote their conscience." The crowd erupted in boos and chants of "Trump!" The next morning, Cruz defended his speech by telling the Texas delegation "I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and father."
Laura Ingraham Nazi Salute Controversy
Elsewhere, conservative talk-radio host and television personality Laura Ingraham came under fire for appearing to give a Nazi salute while gesturing to the press during her speech at the convention.