It highlighted where the would-be presidents differ in fiscal policy - all are in favour of a simplified tax code, lowering business taxes and against raising the minimum wage. Only Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump are in favour of protecting social security and Medicare benefits and it turns out they're all pretty split on foreign policy and Syria (Jeb Bush: it's like "Monopoly". He means "Risk".)
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper GOP debate without a large helping of hot air. Here were the peak Republican moments:
1. Marco Rubio said welders get paid more than philosophers
The Florida senator was trying to argue in favour of expanding vocational education. It depends on what you mean by "philosopher", but generally speaking this is just wrong. At least in the US, Gawker points out that a philosophy professor makes around $60,000, and a welder $37,000.
2. Ted Cruz said "Commerce" twice when asked which five branches of government he'd cut
In a shadow of the mistake that undid Rick Perry in 2011, the Texas senator said he'd completely axe five government agencies: the Departments of Commerce and Energy, the IRS, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and, umm, the Department of Commerce again.
3. Donald Trump said the widely reviled "Operation Wetback" was a good idea
The 1950s policy forcibly removed more than 1 million people from the US to Mexico. During one deportation incident, 88 people died of heatstroke on a ship.
4. Faced with claims he fabricated parts of his inspirational story, retired neuroscientist Ben Carson said he didn't mind being "vetted" but he has a "problem with being lied about"
The committed creationist has been under fire for claims in his 1992 autobiography that he was offered a scholarship to the prestigious West Point military academy and he had "violent episodes" as a young man before he turned his life around.
5. Donald Trump "shushed" former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, ironically enough, for interrupting
6. Jeb Bush got interrupted - a lot
Poor Jeb. The former Florida governor used the time he did get to speak to make jabs at Hillary Clinton's policy ideas. (In fact, her name was mentioned no fewer than 25 times during the debate):
7. Ohio Governor John Kasich got booed because he couldn't explain how he would save depositors without bailing out banks
8. Rand Paul said that reduced spending and his vision of American isolationism made him the only "true conservative" on the stage
Hard to argue with that one, actually.
You can be strong without being involved in every single civil war around the world.