Eight of Donald Trump’s primary opponents, most of whom were men wearing ties similar to the vivid red one the former president frequently wore, engaged in a fight for second place Wednesday night while he sat out the opening Republican presidential election debate in 2024.
Alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the middle of the the platform, 38-year-old entrepreneur and first-time candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was the focal point for most of the evening. Ramaswamy got into arguments over experience with former Vice President Mike Pence, foreign policy with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Trump with former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and more.
Ramaswamy has positioned himself as a Trump supporter, so at times he has served as a substitute for the former president, who temporarily left the spotlight Wednesday night but will reclaim it on Thursday when he surrenders to authorities at the Fulton County jail in Georgia after being charged with election subversion.
The discussion seemed like the undercard despite all the fireworks in the two-hour clash. Despite his legal issues, Trump has maintained a sizable lead in the polls, and nothing that occurred on Wednesday night is likely to change the outcome of the contest.
Because to the previous president’s absence, a number of contenders who have positioned themselves as vehement opponents of the former president were denied the chance to speak with him face to face. Christie sparred more with the businessman than the former president, according to Ramaswamy, who said that Christie is waging a campaign “based on vengeance and grievance” against Trump. Throughout most of the discussion, Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, remained unacknowledged.
For North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, though, being permitted to take part in the discussion at all was the most important event on Wednesday. Burgum had a high-grade Achilles tendon injury on Tuesday, which required him to be rushed to an emergency facility in Milwaukee.
“I think I took it too literally when they said, ‘Go to Milwaukee and break a leg,'” he added in jest.
A boisterous audience of around 4,000 people watched the debate at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The Fox News moderators were occasionally overpowered by the audience’s emotions, which included boos and jeers when contenders attacked Trump.
Following are seven lessons learned during the first Republican presidential primary debate in 2024:
Gunning for Ramaswamy
Since Trump was not there for the discussion on Wednesday, most of the attendees did not criticize DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, or any other candidate who has ever run for public office. It was Ramaswamy, a rookie to politics. Pence launched the first dig at the businessman from Ohio: “Vivek, you recently stated a president can’t do everything. Well, Vivek, I have some news for you. In the hallway I was. I once visited the West Wing. Every problem that affects the United States must be addressed by the president.
The two candidates engaged in an acrimonious back-and-forth with mild name-calling as a result. Former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie later compared Ramaswamy’s responses to anything produced by ChatGPT at the first portion of the discussion. Then, Christie seized on Ramaswamy’s rhetorical question, “What is a little-known guy with a funny name doing on the debate stage?” He noted that the remark was eerily similar to Barack Obama’s old campaign slogan, “a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him.”
When Ramaswamy stated, “We are in the middle of a national identity crisis,” Pence attacked the businessman. We don’t have an identity issue, Vivek, the former vice president retorted. We do not want a new sense of national identity.
Additionally, Pence compared his own background to that of Ramaswamy: “Well, Vivek, I’ve got some news for you. I’ve been in the West Wing and the hallway. Every problem that affects the United States must be addressed by the president.
Unexpectedly, Ramaswamy was the target of a pile-on. He is a rookie in politics. Meanwhile, recent polls have showed him to be ahead of rivals who have, in some cases, spent decades in political politics. This is intended to stop Ramaswamy from gaining any momentum, according to his opponents.
DeSantis doesn’t stand out despite the fact that he created the impression that he would dominate the discussion on Wednesday. He was the opposite.
He didn’t exactly talk the most. Although DeSantis’ campaign implied that his Republican rivals would have their “knives out” for him, he didn’t face many assaults. And at a crucial point, when asked to show their support for Trump if he were found guilty in court, DeSantis first glanced around the stage to see how everyone else had responded before he halfheartedly raised his right palm.
DeSantis, who was given center stage, seemed satisfied to leave Milwaukee without jeopardizing his position as the front-runner in the polls. But he also did nothing to dispel the polling-supported perception that he is on a different tier from Trump and more closely associated with the rest of the field.
DeSantis frequently relied on words from his prepared remarks that had been used before in recent months. He began the discussion by stating, as he does on the campaign trail, that “Our country is in decline” and that “We need to send Joe Biden back to his basement.” He made a joke about Hunter Biden’s paintings, something he frequently does when he travels to early-voting states. He reiterated a vow he has been making for weeks: that anyone who enter the country illegally will die “stone cold dead” under a DeSantis government.
Moderators occasionally tried to divert DeSantis from his prepared statements. Brett Baier of Fox chimed in to point out that crime was rising in Miami when DeSantis boasted that it was at a 50-year low in Florida. DeSantis was more specific: “Well, statewide.” DeSantis commented up his electoral success in Florida when asked if he would support a federal ban on abortions after six weeks. When prodded for a response, he responded as he has for weeks by declining to support it or rule it out.
By strongly addressing Americans at home, frequently staring directly at the camera, and by sharing experiences from an abortion survivor and a woman whose son died from fentanyl intoxication, DeSantis sought to shake off his reputation as a cold and stiff debater. In sharing his history, he acknowledged that people might not be familiar with him beyond the racial tensions and Covid-19 policies that have made him a Republican celebrity. He mentioned his military experience three times and spoke frequently about his young family.
Christie’s misstep with the attack dog
If there was one candidate who was predicted to have a knockout moment on Wednesday night, it was Christie. The Florida senator’s propensity of repeating statements caused the former governor to humiliate Marco Rubio during the last debate prior to the New Hampshire primary over eight years ago. Even while Rubio received more votes than Christie in the Granite State, where he finished fifth to Christie’s sixth, the senator found it difficult to shake the perception that he was robotic.
Christie seems prepared to handle Ramaswamy similarly. While Christie’s “ChatGPT” comment was reminiscent of his last debate performance, the Ohio businessman seemed unaffected by it. Ramaswamy, however, continued to criticize him for his criticism of Trump.
When asked if he would stand behind the former president in the event that he was found guilty of a crime, Christie responded that the party should stop “normalizing this conduct,” to the jeers of the audience.
If your entire campaign wasn’t founded on revenge and grievance against one individual, Ramaswamy added, “Your claim that Donald Trump is motivated by resentment and grievance would be a lot more credible.”
Prior to the debate, Christie campaign advisor Doug Mayer warned CNN that the former governor of New Jersey would transform everyone who supported Trump into Trump. Christie’s effort to criticize the top supporter of the former president on stage, however, was met with even more hatred from the audience.
Christie answered, “You make me laugh,” but then the booing overpowered him. The visuals didn’t help either: Fox News split-screened Christie standing still while Ramaswamy smirked up until the moderators requested the audience to give him time to finish.
recognizing differences about abortion
Some candidates favored a government ban on abortions beyond 15 weeks. Some others said that they opposed efforts to enact a universal ban. Even if they had supported such legislation as governors, no one explicitly declared that they would sign a federal prohibition on abortion beyond six weeks.
Abortion policy remains a difficult topic for Republican candidates more than a year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. They are torn between the need to prove their anti-abortion credentials and the need to address the realities of the political environment, where voters have rejected strict abortion restrictions and the candidates who backed them.
Haley, who sparred with Pence on the potential for establishing a federal ban, stood at one extreme of the spectrum. Haley urged the other candidates to “be honest” with the American people about the slim chance that a nationwide abortion ban would pass with the support of 60 senators and overcome a filibuster. Instead, she advocated for agreement on matters like promoting adoption and giving medical professionals the opportunity to refuse to conduct a surgery if they had moral concerns to it.
Leadership is the antithesis of consensus, Pence said. Even Pence, though, was content to just support a plan sponsored by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham that would have outlawed abortions after 15 weeks.
“A 15-week ban is an idea whose time has come,” Pence declared. Onstage, Scott endorsed the 15-week suspension as well.
DeSantis and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota are two contenders who have signed legislation outlawing abortions after six weeks, but they refrained from promising to do the same on a national level. Burgum asserted that his respect for the 10th Amendment is the reason behind his opposition to a federal prohibition. When asked if he would approve a six-week federal ban, DeSantis responded simply that he would “stand on the side of life.”
DeSantis added, “I realize Wisconsin will approach it differently than Texas. But in my capacity as president and governor, I will promote the cause of life.
After Pence presses him, DeSantis tries to avoid answering the question about January 6 but fails.
DeSantis tried to duck the question regarding whether Pence was correct to reject Trump’s pressure campaign to rig the 2020 presidential election by dismissing the question and lamenting the “weaponization” of the federal government.
But Pence persisted, forcing DeSantis to defend himself.
“The American people have a right to know if everyone here agrees that I upheld my oath to the Constitution on that particular day. Answer the question; there is nothing more essential to do, he said.
“Mike performed his duty. In an effort to rapidly move on, DeSantis stated, “I’ve got no quarrel with him.
The incident demonstrated the governor of Florida’s concern over alienating Trump’s supporters.
DeSantis’ response, though, was criticized by Christie, who called it “a canned speech.”
According to him, Pence “deserves not grudging credit; he deserves our thanks as Americans.”
Haley favors the presidential election.
Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and Trump’s ambassador to the UN, took the stage on Wednesday with a speech that was more directly targeted at the general voter than those of her competitors.
How much she accomplished to win over Republican supporters was less certain.
Haley objected to a nationwide ban on abortion, arguing that “consensus” is required on the matter due to the Senate’s 60-vote need to end a filibuster and the requirement for a majority in the House. Additionally, she argued that all women should have access to contraceptives.
She was one of the few candidates to state the existence of climate change.
She was the first to attack Trump specifically, citing an increase in spending under his administration. Despite Trump’s demand on the former vice president to work to alter the outcome of the 2020 election, she commended Pence’s activities on January 6, 2021. Additionally, Haley referred to her ex-boss as the “most despised politician in America.”
“We cannot win a general election that way,” she said.
In a discussion on Russia, Haley attacked Ramaswamy while defending American backing for Ukraine.
During one of the most heated arguments of the evening, she stated, “You have no experience with foreign policy, and it shows.”
Scott continues to act like Mr. Nice Guy
Scott intended to maintain his “kill ’em with kindness” stance throughout the argument. He did it during the first portion of the discussion. The issue was that strategy kept him out of the majority of conversations. Scott wasn’t really in it while the other contenders were arguing and sparring over issues like abortion, the Ukraine, or whether Trump should be pardoned. He did make an effort to get his point over by issuing warnings about the “weaponization” of the federal government and crime in the United States. But while contenders attacked Ramaswamy or Christie lauded Pence for his deeds on January 6, 2021, all of his remarks and reasons were overshadowed.
When Scott finally had an opportunity to speak on the southern border, illegal immigration, and fentanyl, he gave a lengthy response describing the significance and simplicity of completing Trump’s border wall.
Scott finished by saying, “I will complete that border wall as the next president of the United States,” emphasizing each word. He stopped to accept cheers. There wasn’t any.
Republican strategists said that Scott wanted to take this tack because it’s true to who he is before the debate. The question at hand is whether the senator from South Carolina will continue to support it.
What does the American Republican Party stand for?
The Republican Party, sometimes known as the GOP (the “Grand Old Party”), is one of the two main modern political parties in the United States. The two parties have dominated American politics ever since it first emerged as the Democratic Party’s principal political adversary in the middle of the 1850s.
What is the Republican position?
Over time, the Republican Party’s stances have changed. The party now supports reduced taxes, small government conservatism, free trade, free markets, corporate deregulation, and limitations on labor unions as part of its fiscal conservatism.
What principles do Democrats uphold?
Democrats think we can and should improve life for families across our country, whether it is via equal pay, labor rights, environmental protection, or taking on special interests. Fairness, justice, and equality for everyone by defending all Americans who are in the middle class or trying to get there.
What actions take Republicans?
Today, Republicans promote conservative social policies and argue for lower taxes as a way to boost the economy and advance individual economic freedom. Republicans also tend to be against affirmative action, government-funded social programs, and heavy economic regulation.
What are liberals committed to?
believing in liberty and equality for everyone. defending individual rights and private property. defending the notion of restrained constitutional governance. valuing the significance of associated principles including diversity, tolerance, autonomy, physical integrity, and consent.
What characteristics define a Republican?
Republicanism is a political philosophy that places a strong emphasis on belonging to a republican state. It highlights the concept of self-rule throughout history and encompasses everything from popular sovereignty to the rule of a representative minority or oligarchy.
What kind of faith do the Greens have in us?
The Green Party is in support of ending the death penalty, doing away with the three strikes rule, outlawing private prisons, legalizing marijuana, and decriminalizing other narcotics.
What actions take Republican leaders?
argues on behalf of Republicans in the House. helps the party’s leadership manage its legislative agenda. oversees the organization for all House Republicans. The venue for policy development at the Heads Conference.
What principles does republicanism uphold?
These fundamental principles have been outlined by political scientists and historians as being freedom and unalienable individual rights, acknowledging that the people are the source of all legal authority, rejecting monarchy, aristocracy, and hereditary political power, virtue and loyalty in civic duties, and recognition of the sovereignty of the people.
Is America a democracy or a republic?
The United States is more appropriately described as a constitutional federal republic, while frequently being called a democracy. Why does this matter? The term “constitutional” alludes to the fact that the Constitution, the country’s ultimate law, serves as the foundation for American governance.
Who is the Green Party’s leader?
Since 19 November 2022, Elizabeth May has presided as the party’s head.
How many political parties exist in the United States?
There have historically only been two major political parties in the United States of America. But within the two main parties, there are several distinct groups with various points of view. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party have been the two major parties since the 1860s.
What does the Green Party’s official name mean?
A green, left-leaning political party in England and Wales is called the Green Party of England and Wales (GPEW; Welsh: Plaid Werdd Cymru a Lloegr; Cornish: Party Gwer Pow a Sowson ha Kembra; also just called the Green Party or Greens).