DES MOINES, IA - You can't really say the first debate without Donald Trump, was Trump-less. The first rattle out of the box was a question about Trump, and Sen. Ted Cruz was ready with a response.
"I'm a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly, and Ben, you're a terrible surgeon. Now, that we've got the Donald Trump portion out of the way."
But it was kind of weird not having that big ol' elephant in the room.
"I kind of miss Donald Trump," said Jeb Bush, "he was a little teddy bear to me."
"Teddy Bear" Trump was just a few miles away, doing his own thing for veterans.
"Isn't that better than this debate that's going on while everyone is sleeping? They're all sleeping."
Trump's not crazy for saying that.
Early Neilsen data shows that the debate had an 8.4 household rating, making it the second-lowest-rated debate of 2016. Still, it beat out Trump's boycott.
Trump says he raised over $6 million for veterans, not too shabby! His new website, donaldtrumpforvets.com, claims that 100% of your donations will go "directly" to veterans needs, except it doesn't. It all goes directly to Donald Trump's personal non-profit foundation, according to a disclosure listed at the bottom of the page.
Forbes recently noted that between 2009 and 2013, the Donald J. Trump foundation gave $57,000 to veterans groups, which is barely 1% of the $5.5 million dollars collected.
Back to the debate. Trump knew he didn't need to go...he was there in spirit! His name came up more times than anyone could count. There's no doubt, the force is strong with this one.