SIMI VALLEY — Hundreds of journalists covered the GOP debate from the media filing center at the Reagan Presidential Library–and it seemed they could not get enough of frontrunner Donald J. Trump’s onstage performance.
At each of Trump’s quips–most at the expense of his rivals–waves of applause and laughter spread through the tent.
When Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) criticized Trump for attacking rivals on the basis of their appearance, Trump replied: “I never attacked him on looks–and believe me, there is plenty of subject matter there. That I can tell you.”
The press corps roared with delight.
The laughter continued with Trump’s jab at former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who interrupted Trump while he was replying to an attack. “Higher energy. I like that,” Trump joked, silencing Bush–but lighting up the journalists.
Later, when Trump gave one of his more awkward responses–this time to Carly Fiorina’s blunt reply to his reported comments about her appearance–the media tent still shook with laughter.
Whether that is because they are pleased to see him taking on fellow Republicans, or because they are genuinely enjoying his wit, is unclear. It is difficult to generalize, particularly at a Republican debate, where conservative media mingle among mainstream outlets.
Regardless, impressing the media is something few GOP contenders have managed to do in decades.