We're not sure how much any of it will matter in the end but -- at least according to the punditocracy, former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina bested the boys at what we at Metro called The Kiddie Table.
The funnest social media hashtag was #HappyHourDebate. Kudos to whoever thought of it.
The debate lasted one hour and started at 5 p.m. It featured the seven candidates at the bottom of the polls. The main event, at 9 p.m. included Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and seven others at the top of the polls.
Here's a quick look at what is being said about the earlier debate.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Political doyenne Maggie Haberman on Fiorina: " I think Fiorina really stood out and did herself some help in this debate. She's been struggling to get traction and I think to the extent that people are paying attention, this will help going forward."
Eli Stokols: "On a stage filled by several faltering also-rans, Carly Fiorina stood out for her seriousness, fluidity and willingness to attack not just Democrats but her Republican opponents as well. Fiorina, the only woman in the 17-candidate field and one of seven candidates who didn’t make the cut for the prime-time debate, didn’t just criticize Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner, but she went out of her way to rip the recently gaffe-prone Jeb Bush, who will take the debate stage later Thursday evening."
Jane C. Timm and Benjy Sarlin: "Conservatives embraced Carly Fiorina in the early evening debate on Thursday, as fans drowned out some of her answers with whoops and cheers."