Highlights from the Third Republican “Undercard” Debate

National polling numbers again decided the placement of Republican presidential candidates in either the main “Primetime” debate, or the “Undercard” debate, which started two hours earlier. This time, though, there was no movement between the debates, as polling numbers have stayed fairly consistent since the candidates took the stage in Las Vegas, Nevada, a crucial election state.

This time around, the earlier of the two debates was one candidate lighter: Scott Walker exited the race — and asked other low-polling candidates to do the same, in order to combat the strength of Donald Trump’s candidacy — at the end of September.

The Four GOP Candidates at the earlier "Undercard" Debate

The Four GOP Candidates at the earlier “Undercard” Debate

The remaining low-polling candidates (Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham) have all struggled with stagnating numbers and seemingly little hope for climbing into the “big leagues,” with the 10 candidates polling above them. Then again, there were a few stand out performances Wednesday night:

Lindsey Graham Is Trying To Win An Election

Lindsey Graham is known for stepping across the isle on occaision to lend a vote to Democratic legislation, and when he was asked about his bipartisan voting record, and whether he was “in the wrong party’s debate,” Graham gave a wide-ranging response that covered his full legislative agenda, and seemed like a pragmatic political answer to plenty of the problems on which D.C. is currently gridlocked. Pundits have questioned whether there’s room in the Republican field for an ideology like Grahams’; if there is, this answer might be the reason why. “I am tired of losing!” Graham said at the end of his statement, and it clearly resonated with the Colorado crowd.

Rick Santorum Defends the Export Import Bank

In defiance of fellow conservatives — especially members of the Tea Party, and the now-infamous Congressional Freedom Caucus — Rick Santorum stood by his support of the Export-Import bank, a fund set-up to assist American companies in overseas markets. Seen by some as wasteful and unnecessary government spending, Santorum defined the program as conservative one, meant to level the playing field between American corporations and their international competitors.

Lindsey Graham on Saving Social Secuity

Lindsey Graham had a stong night in the undercard debate, and this moment, in which he explains his family’s economic history as a way to contextualize his stances on the future of entitlement reform, manages to be inspiring at the same time as Graham approaches a difficult ask: namely, asking the wealthy and young people to take less out of the Social Security administration than they put in.

George Pataki Gets to the Heart of Clinton’s Email Scandal

Asked about cyber security and declaring cyber war on North Korea, George Pataki navigated out of a difficult question and steered his answer towards Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which he said had left the State Department open to the real threat of hacking and information loss. For all of the news recently about Clinton’s email mistakes, Pataki made the case concisely that her missteps are part of a larger trend of incompetence.