The first round of the GOP candidate debate, featuring the four also-ran candidates, was dominated by foreign policy and the war on terror, with the terms of the discussion largely set by the front runner, Donald Trump.
Trump, of course, was not present, because this was the debate for the candidates who didn't make the main stage. Indeed, this may have been the last chance to see some of these four candidates, who are so low in the polls that they may not get another invitation.
But the debate was nonetheless substantive and spirited. Here are a few takeways:
Graham apologizes to Muslim allies
Republicans have long criticized President Obama for what they have characterized as a series of apologies to foreign leaders. But on Tuesday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina found himself apologizing on behalf of America for Trump, who has called for a near-blanket ban on Muslims entering the country.
“To the president of Egypt, I am sorry,” Graham said. “He does not represent us.”
Graham later mentioned another ally to make his larger point, that the United States needs moderate allies in the region to avoid the pitfall of declaring war on an entire religion.
“Muslims have died by the thousands,” Graham said. “How do you think the king of Jordan must feel to hear that," he said, referring to Trump's proposal.
"Stop this before it's too late.”
Some struggling candidates still trying to catch some Trump glow
None of the four candidates endorsed Trump’s call to stop Muslims at the border, but former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said “he brings up a legitimate issue.”
And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said “he has touched a nerve because people are angry and afraid.”
Even former New York Gov. George Pataki, a fierce Trump critic, put some of the blame for the popularity of Trump’s proposal on Obama and Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
Pataki said their reluctance to define the enemy as "radical Islamic terrorism" has caused many Americans to lump the entire religion together.
San Bernardino has intensified the level of fear
The election was already dominated by fear, but recent events have heightened the concern.
Pataki opened the debate by involving the school closure in Los Angeles Tuesday to note that “we are in crisis.”
Santorum said, “WWIII has begun.”
Huckabee said Americans are “just plain scared.”
Graham: “The next 9/11 is coming from Syria. It’s coming soon.”