Fox’s Baier and MacCallum Offer Up Their Own Post-Mortem of the First GOP Debate: ‘I Did Feel Like the Dad Driving the Station Wagon’

Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum

Frank Micelotta/PictureGroup for Fox News Media

The Republican presidential candidates who appeared onstage at Wednesday’s first debate in Milwaukee had the chance to make their impression to GOP primary voters without being overshadowed by the front-runner, former President Donald Trump (aka Inmate #P01135809). And while it’s always easy to play Monday Morning quarterback — or in this case, Thursday/Friday Morning quarterback — it’s also worth asking the people who were actually there what they thought of the experience. Debate co-moderators Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum of Fox News talked to Politico’s Playbook Deep Dive podcast about some of the key moments from the debate and the candidates.

There are a lot of great quotes from the conversation with Politico’s Ryan Lizza, but among those that stood out is the moment from the image above, when Baier had to turn around to the raucously booing audience and tell them to stop taking up the candidates’ air time:

When they were booing and [former New Jersey Gov.] Chris Christie couldn’t talk, that’s the time that we both turned around to the audience. And at that point, I did feel like the dad driving the station wagon going, “You guys keep yelling, I’m going to turn this car around.”

Baier also described former Vice President Mike Pence as “super aggressive,” adding: “I don’t know whether he had a lot of coffee or what his deal was, but he showed up ready to interrupt.”

Indeed, Pence talked the most during the debate, with 12 minutes and 37 seconds of speaking time, shockingly edging out Vivek Ramaswamy (who clocked 11:47 minutes), who MacCallum had a theory as to why he may have felt entitled to interrupt soo many times:

He, I think, may have been thinking: “I’m the former vice president. I have a different status on this stage, and I am going to take my time and I’m going to show my gravitas and I’m going to make sure that people hear what I have to say here tonight.” … You could definitely feel him asserting himself — that he was sort of, “I’m on a different level here than the rest of you on the stage.”

MacCallum also highlighted the response to the question of the candidates’ support of Trump if he was both convicted of the crimes for which he’s charged and the GOP nominee in the general election:

MacCallum: [W]hen you look back at it — and I actually just rewatched it a moment ago — it’s interesting because the right-hand side of the room, their hands went up pretty quickly. And [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis sort of glanced over at them and then raised his hand. …

Baier: I agree with Martha. It was sort of like the wave in a stadium. … I think that was my moment, too. … [DeSantis] clearly didn’t want to talk about the former president, and, to that point, started turning it and, you know, ripping on us for talking about the former president.

That led to another memorable moment when Baier reminded DeSantis that Trump was beating him by 30 to 40 points in the polls:

I kind of had that moment, and wasn’t thinking I was smacking him; I was just telling him: “This is a legitimate line of questioning. This is a big part of this election.”

You can find the whole podcast at Politico or on your podcast platform of choice.

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