I watched some of the early debate and all of the evening debate last night. I mostly agree with Matthew Yglesias at Vox, The first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 election, explained. I think Christie did a really good job at looking reasonable. Instead of Hulk Christie we got Puny Banner Christie. Kasich did impress me the most, but I guess (according to Ygelisias) that's because I'm a liberal. I've seen remarkably little about Huckabee, Carson, and Cruz. I wasn't impressed by any of them so maybe it's just as well.
There wasn't a lot of content and what there was I thought was weak and often wrong. People talked about needing a stronger economy but the renamed flat tax proposals didn't do anything for me. Huckabee thinks we can solve the national debt with a consumption tax. Fine, but he ignored the regressive aspects of it and even said it will be "paid by everybody, including illegals, prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, all the people that are freeloading off the system now.” Christie wants to raise the retirement age (but slowly) and cap benefits (though the idea of not getting social security if you're earning $200,000 in retirement doesn't sound so bad to me, I don't think there are many people earning that much in retirement).
Overall, I found the experience tiring. The few entertaining zingers didn't make up for listening to these people for two hours. The fact that there were so many of them stage meant there was little back-and-forth and only a few questions that went to more than one person and none to all of them after the opening one which was obviously a setup to go after Trump. Trump got the most time and it was just 10.5 minutes. Paul got the least at under 5. Newsweek has the tally and it seems the candidates spoke for just 68 total minutes. If that's all you can get then having more than 3 or 4 candidates is a real waste.