Thursday night’s debate between 10 Republican presidential candidates offered voters a useful discussion, according to a University of Missouri professor.

University of Missouri Professor of Communication Mitchell McKinney (courtesy; MU)

University of Missouri Professor of Communication Mitchell McKinney (courtesy; MU)

Professor Mitchell McKinney said the prime-time debate highlighted differences between the ten candidates, and between the Republican and Democrat parties, while not quite being stolen by frontrunner Donald Trump as some has expected.

“Even when the Fox journalists were inviting his opponents on the stage directly attack him, to take him on, several of them passed on that opportunity so we didn’t hear a lot of response from Mr. Trump,” said McKinney.

McKinney says former Florida governor Jeb Bush, meanwhile, was too quiet as the assumed closest contender to Trump.

“Throughout that long debate, at certain times, Trump maintained his presence but I felt throughout the two-hour debate at certain times we sort of forgot that Jeb Bush was on the stage,” said McKinney.

The prime time debate was between the ten of the 17 Republican presidential candidates that were polling the highest at the beginning of the week. McKinney says it was candidates among the remaining seven, who participated in a debate earlier in the evening, who did the best job of going after Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

“Certainly from Carly Fiorina, from Lyndsey Graham, Rick Perry, and we didn’t see that level of attack of the presumed frontrunner of the Democratic party on the main stage,” said McKinney. “As a matter of fact although there were some passing references to Clinton, some of it was even lighthearted in nature, there wasn’t a lot of attack of her, certainly at the level that we saw in the earlier debate.”