In the wake of the Sept. 16 Republican presidential debate, held at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, The Tidings reached out to Catholics to see what they thought of the candidates and their positions.

They commented on former HP CEO Carly Fiorina; real-estate developer and reality-TV star Donald Trump; former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum; Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal; Ohio governor John Kasich; Kentucky senator Rand Paul; pediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; New Jersey governor Chris Christie; Florida senator Marco Rubio; Texas senator Ted Cruz; and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

While all of the candidates have professed to be Christians, Santorum, Jindal, Christie, Rubio and Bush are Catholics.

The first two responders are Los Angeles-area Millennials.

Adrian Urias is, as he puts it, living “the bachelor’s life” while pursuing a bachelors in philosophy in Long Beach.

Fiorina impressed him after fighting her way from the second-tier debate, where she was for the first event, to the main stage.

“Not only did she establish herself,” he said, “she went above and beyond by dominating almost every topic that she touched on. She not only made the biggest gains, but now she’s dethroned Trump as the one with momentum.”

Urias feels that, although they’re not in the top tier of candidates, Santorum and Jindal deserve Catholic support because of their faithfulness to Church teaching. He doesn’t approve of the “socially liberal” views of Kasich and Paul … especially Paul.

“This much should be clear,” Urias said, “Catholics absolutely cannot support Paul. Paul supports marital nihilism by proposing that government should not recognize marriages, even though Donum Vitae makes it clear that marriage needs that social establishment. Paul equivocates, in a not-so-subtle way, as Christie demonstrated, between medical and recreational marijuana. Christie and others cited the horrible effects it has on society through public health. Not only is it a public health concern — disease spreading under the false flag of freedom like a wolf in sheep's clothing — it's a moral disease as well.”

As for who he’d vote for today, Urias named Jindal or Rubio.

Steven Trochlil, a Ph.D. candidate in public-policy analysis, believes that Catholics could support Huckabee, Rubio and Bush, in part for their defense of embattled Kentucky town clerk Kim Davis — who went to jail rather than authorize licenses for same-sex unions — and for traditional marriage in general.

He added, “When the other candidates talk about the Supreme Court ruling [on same-sex marriage] as ‘the law of the land’ and somehow sacrosanct, they are displaying ignorance of traditional Catholic teaching on the law which says that an unjust law is no law at all.”

The libertarian leanings of Cruz and Paul concerned Trochlil. As for Fiorina, Trump, Carson, Kasich and Christie, Trochlil felt they were, again, too lukewarm in their support of Kim Davis’ religious-liberty rights and too accepting of the SCOTUS marriage decision. He also questioned the sincerity of Trump’s pro-life conversion.

“I would vote for Jindal,” Trochlil said, “The man is a sincere Catholic, and willing to act on Catholic principles even when it is not popular to do so.”

Karen Hall is a screenwriter and former Hollywood resident who now lives and works as a college professor in North Carolina.

A longtime Fiorina fan, she believes that the former CEO “clearly won” the debate, but maybe not for the reason you might expect.

“At this point,” she said, “the angry candidates are doing well because the country is in such a mess, we need someone who is passionately unhappy about it. But Fiorina is capable of being angry and extremely rational at the same time, which, for my money, made her the winner.”

Fiorina’s impassioned assault on Planned Parenthood also impressed her. Hall said, “I felt like she genuinely cared and wasn’t just trying to win votes.”

She could see herself voting for Rubio or Huckabee but has concerns about both, especially Huckabee’s ability to stand up to people like Russian president Vladimir Putin.

“Ultimately,” she said, “I'm going to have to choose between two candidates, and I know that the Republican is more likely to have values that a Catholic can support than the Democrat. I hope the Republican will be someone for whom I can vote without going to confession for it.”

Although Bush went to great lengths to preserve the life of Terri Schiavo in the famous “right to die” case between 2003 and 2005 when he was governor, Hall cites it as a reason she can’t support him. She also doubts Trump’s change of heart on abortion.

Even though she’d still have to do some “soul searching” on her, Hall says, if the election were today, she’d “definitely vote” for Fiorina.

Miami-area businessman J.M. Garcia, a partner in the strategic consulting firm Global Expand LLC, gave a concise account of his intentions.

He said, “Fiorina gained the most yards; Rubio had the most yards per carry. I didn't see anything that would disqualify any of them, although I'm not convinced yet of Trump's commitment to pro-life issues. In spite of his previous association with the very flawed ‘Gang of 8’ bill, Rubio is the one I'm leaning towards.”

Josh Beckman, the newly appointed director of communications for Catholic Servite High School in Orange County, made a bold statement about Fiorina on Facebook:

“The next Margaret Thatcher stepped on stage tonight.”