Trump skips debate, wins on social media

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump was the big winner across social media on Thursday night during the seventh Republican presidential debate - despite the fact that he was not even there.

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Trump was the most searched-for candidate on Google during the debate, according to data supplied by the search engine, which co-sponsored the event with Fox News.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush also gained traction on Google.

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Trump skips debate, wins on social media
Republican Presidential candidates (L-R) Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrive for the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush laugh together after a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie answers a question as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Jeb Bush speaks as Marco Rubio, right and John Kasich listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., looks down during a break in the Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson (L) speaks as Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidates participate in the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jeb Bush argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (L) looks on as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) looks on Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich stand on the stage during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush answers a question as Ohio Gov. John Kasich listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) speaks as Texas Senator Ted Cruz looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Chris Christie argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Rand Paul makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
John Kasich argues a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Ted Cruz, left, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush listen to a question from moderator Chris Wallace during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is seen on the television large monitors during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Marco Rubio speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Ted Cruz speaks as Marco Rubio listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate Texas Senator Ted Cruz gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (L) looks on as Ohio Gov. John Kasich gestures during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Moderators Chris Wallace, Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier smile as they wait for a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidate former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (L) speaks as Ohio Gov. John Kasich looks on during the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Moderator Megyn Kelly talks during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican Presidential candidates (L-R) Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich arrive for the Republican Presidential debate sponsored by Fox News at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. / AFP / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Carly Fiorina makes appoint as Mike Huckabee listens during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Mike Huckabee makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Carly Fiorina makes appoint as Mike Huckabee and Jim Gilmore listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Jim Gilmore makes a point during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Mike Huckabee argues a point as Carly Fiorina listen during a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Republican presidential candidates (L-R) former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum , businesswoman Carly Fiorina , former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore stand for group photo before a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Trump also dominated Twitter mentions among all candidates during the debate, according to Brandwatch, a social media monitoring company.

The billionaire businessman received roughly 130,000 Twitter mentions during the debate, according to Brandwatch. This marked a roughly 40,000-tweet decline from the previous GOP debate - which he attended.

In all, Trump commanded 36 percent of the Twitter traffic during Thursday night's debate, according to the social media company.

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Donald Trump's Iowa Rally at the same time as GOP debate
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Trump skips debate, wins on social media
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidates Rick Santorum, left, and Donald Trump, center, laugh as they listens to Mike Huckabee during a campaign event on the campus of Drake University Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at a campaign event on the campus of Drake University Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, center, and Mike Huckabee, left, applaud while listening to Rick Santorum during a campaign event on the campus of Drake University Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump applauds as Treasure Island Casino owner Phil Ruffin speaks, along with his wife, Oleksandra Nikolayenko, at a event in support of veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump laughs as Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum jokes about not being photographed in front of a Trump podium sign at a event in support of veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump appears on stage with fellow candidates Mike Huckabee, left, and Rick Santorum at a Trump event in support of veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally raising funds for US military veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016. US Republicans scrambling to win the first contest in the presidential nomination race were gearing for battle at high-profile debate in Iowa, but frontrunner Donald Trump is upending the campaign by defiantly refusing to attend. Trump's gamble has left the presidential race in uncharted waters just days before Iowans vote on February 1, insisting he will not back down in his feud with debate host Fox News.Instead, the billionaire has doubled down, hosting a rogue, rival event for US military veterans at the same time that his own party is showcasing its candidates for president to all-important Iowa voters. / AFP / William EDWARDS (Photo credit should read WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, waves during a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump, according to a flurry of early-state and national polls, is the overwhelming favorite of self-identified moderate and liberal Republican voters. Among more conservative voters, he often trails his chief rival for the nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump, according to a flurry of early-state and national polls, is the overwhelming favorite of self-identified moderate and liberal Republican voters. Among more conservative voters, he often trails his chief rival for the nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Protesters, left, are confronted by supporters during a campaign event for Donald Trump, president and chief executive of Trump Organization Inc. and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump, according to a flurry of early-state and national polls, is the overwhelming favorite of self-identified moderate and liberal Republican voters. Among more conservative voters, he often trails his chief rival for the nomination, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Melania Trump, wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, waves, at event in support of veterans at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee waves to attendees before the start of a veterans event with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
People cheer before the arrival of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for at a rally at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Trump -- who boycotted the event after Fox News refused to yield to his demand that network anchor Megyn Kelly be yanked as a moderator and after Fox News issued a sarcastic news release about the contretemps -- hosted his own event in Des Moines, a fund-raiser for veterans. He was rewarded with positive social media buzz.

Not long after he took the stage on Thursday night at his event at Drake University, a group of protesters chanted loudly. Trump responded: "I love the protesters in the big arena because the cameras (don't move away from) my face."

That quip won him praise on social media, and his Twitter sentiment measured largely positive during the event, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph.

"An unbelievable night in Iowa with our great Veterans!" Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted. "We raised $6,000,000.00 while the politicians talked!"

At the debate, Ted Cruz came out swinging against Trump in his initial comments, mocking the tycoon's penchant for brash criticism.

"I'm a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid, fat and ugly," joked Cruz, in an effort to, as he put it, get "the Donald Trump portion" of the program out of the way.

Cruz's joke became one of the standout moments in the first half of the debate, gaining momentum on Twitter among news outlets and average Twitter users alike.

The debate moved on to discussion of substantive issues. Foreign affairs, national security, immigration, reproductive rights and healthcare were the most tweeted-about topics during the debate, according to Twitter.

Watch more coverage:

Fox Wastes No Time Getting To 'Elephant Not in the Room' During Debate

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