There wasn’t a weak performance in the bunch Wednesday night.
But the Republican presidential candidate who will soar highest as the result of the marathon, three-hour Debate Two will be Carly Fiorina.
She took on Donald Trump directly with her unflinching response to Donald Trump's attack on her appearance.
“Women all over the country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” Fiorini said.
Trump was forced to respond. Fiorina, he said, “has a beautiful face and is a beautiful woman.”
But Fiorini also did well talking about Russia, Planned Parenthood and the loss of her daughter to drug use. She also once again challenged Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.
“Unlike Mrs. Clinton, I know that flying is an activity, not an accomplishment,” she said of Clinton’s years as secretary of state.
Fiorini’s been rising in the polls since her breakout performance in the first GOP debate.
The candidate “who had the most room to grow tonight, took the greatest advantage of it,” veteran Republican political consultant Alex Castellanos told Politico about Fiorini.
“Fiorina was incredibly bright, knowledgeable and gave as good or better than she got from the bully on the block, Donald Trump.
“She is close to becoming an A-tier candidate,” he added. “I would expect her fundraising to go through the roof after tonight.”
Others on Thursday morning agreed:
“Trump finally met his match,” wrote “Right Turn” blogger Jennifer Rubin.
“A smashing performance,” Katie Pavlich of TownHall.com, a frequent Fox talking head, said of Fiorina, adding that the candidate “landed a number of punches on Trump and is the only candidate so far in the race who has been able to successfully do so.”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl declared Fiorina “the clear stand out.” Jonathan Capehart called Fiorina’s response to the Rolling Stone quote “the knock-out moment of the night.”
The headline on the cover of the New York Post today: “Carly trumps The Donald.”