GoogleTrends showed Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe perfect Democratic running mate for DeSantis? Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal Hillicon Valley: US has made progress on cyber but more needed, report says | Democrat urges changes for 'problematic' crypto language in infrastructure bill | Facebook may be forced to unwind Giphy acquisition MORE (D-Hawaii) as the most-searched candidate of Wednesday night's Democratic debate after entering the event in Miami as a relative unknown.
Ahead of the debate, which was the first of two featuring 20 Democratic White House hopefuls, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) was the most searched candidate of the 10 hopefuls who would appear on stage on Wednesday, while Gabbard was the fourth-most searched. Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke seizes on Texas power grid in bid against Abbott McConaughey on Texas run: 'I will let you know shortly' O'Rourke raises M in first 24 hours of Texas governor campaign MORE (D-Texas) were second and third, respectively.
During the debate, Gabbard moved into the top most-searched spot, followed by Booker.
Warren, who has been steadily climbing in the polls in recent weeks, was third most searched during the event.
Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, is polling at just 0.8 percent in the RealClearPolitics index of polls while trailing front-runner former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden and Harris host 'family' Hanukkah celebration with more than 150 guests Symone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Overnight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate MORE by more than 31 points.
Gabbard's most visible moment of the evening came in an exchange with rival Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout Ohio Republicans swing for fences in redistricting proposals Ohio redistricting commission gives up on US House map MORE (D-Ohio) after he said the Taliban was behind the 9/11 attacks.
“The reality of it is if the United States is not engaged, the Taliban will grow. And we will have bigger, bolder terrorist acts, we have got to have some presence there,” Ryan said of needing a military presence in Afghanistan.
Gabbard disputed his plan, saying that the Taliban "was there long before we came in and will be there long after we leave. We cannot keep U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan thinking that we are going to somehow squash this Taliban.”
“I didn’t say squash them," Ryan pushed back. "When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”
“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did,” Gabbard said before they talked over one another.
Gabbard emerged as the top-searched candidate despite having the third-lowest amount of speaking time, clocking in at just over 6 minutes for the nearly two-hour event.
Booker had the most speaking time at 10 minutes and 35 seconds, followed by O'Rourke with 10 minutes and 15 seconds. Warren clocked in at just over 9 minutes.
The second night of the Democratic debate is slated for Thursday. It will feature Biden and other top-tier candidates Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSymone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Briahna Joy Gray says Chris Cuomo will return to CNN following scandal Postal Service expansion into banking services misguided MORE (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFeehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular Harris, Buttigieg to promote infrastructure law in Charlotte 'Fox & Friends Weekend' hosts suggest new variant meant to distract from Biden's struggles MORE (D) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSymone Sanders to leave the White House at the end of the year Bidens to attend Kennedy Center Honors following Trumps' absence Trump: McConnell must use debt limit to crush Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.), along with six other hopefuls.