Milwaukee, USA witnessed the first Republican primary debate and it was fireworks. This was a golden opportunity for the presidential candidates to accrue more support despite the telling Emerson College poll which crowned Donald Trump, a no-show in the debate, the king candidate with 56% popularity beating other candidates within the Grand Old Party by several miles. The poll also showed the dwindling support for DeSantis, the growing favouritism towards Ramasamy, and the surviving popularity of Mike Pence and Christie with no mention of Nikki Haley whatsoever.
First Primary Debate 2024 Election – USA
The first primary debate of the 2024 election cycle succeeded the 46-minute interview Trump gave to former Fox News Reporter Tucker Carlson which drew 74 million watchers as per stats on X platform.
“Whatever you think of Trump, he is, as of tonight, the indisputable, far-and-away frontrunner in the Republican race. We think voters have an interest in hearing what he thinks,” Tucker said in the interview. Trump talked about the inefficiency of the Biden presidency as well as that of Kamala Harris. He talked about DeSantis being “DeSanctus” claiming him no longer a threat. There was however little to no mention of the charges he was faced with possibly due to legal requirements.
In the debate, 8 candidates stood with a few who stole the show, others who delivered a few ‘zingers’ here and there, and others who were limp and forgettable. The candidates included all aspirants with a previous political role like North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former Vice President Mike Pence and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott except the novice entrepreneur Vivek Ramasamy. Many tried taking a dig at him but he soldiered on with a “big smile” and a “quick tongue” as an American news source revealed. He used his successful career and outsider reputation to build rapport, “I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” he said during a discussion of climate change – prompting cries of outrage from his rivals. He talked about Ukraine ceding to Russia, ensuring Mexico-US border security using military force, banning business with China, etc. He has given other candidates a run for their money, literally.
Nikki Haley has been in the race longer than most on the stage but didn’t make a remarkable breakthrough in the process however, it all changed on 23 August, during debate night. She used her political experience as a sledgehammer to damage not just the Biden presidency but also several Republicans in the Congress as news sources revealed. On Wednesday night, she stood out by offering polemical attacks at both Mr. Trump and the Republican Party as a whole. “Republicans did this to you too,” she said when describing the massive US budget deficit. “They need to stop the spending, stop the borrowing.” During the abortion discussion, she was in sharp criticism of Pence, former Vice Prez. debating the possibility of passing a federal ban. She instead pushed for consensus on issues such as encouraging adoption and allowing doctors and nurses with moral objections to the procedure the right not to perform them.
Mike Pence, has been on the receiving end of Trump supporters’ hate and distrust. He went on an attacking spree against Ramasamy saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training”. He did, however, show ‘honour for the Constitution’ when asked if Trump should be ousted from the election race due to his charges. He was in favour of Trump to fight for votes, and others agreed.
Tim Scott and Chris Christie were the pack with a few ‘zingers’ if you may. Christie took several digs at Trump as he has done before, and also targeted Ramasamy in a combative vein. Tim Scott was rather poised throughout the debate hardly buttressing his views in moments when the debate heated up. Many chalked up his performance as Vice-Presidential at best, not quite charismatic for the President of the USA.
Rob DeSantis has proved to be a sparkling champagne that fizzles out more and more with each passing day. He was the Republican favourite, second to only Trump, but he has seen doubts in his supporters and has not swayed them enough as others especially his direct competitor Ramasamy who sits with him at 10% popularity tied at second place in the race, as per Emerson College polls. His Super-PAC has also advised him in a now leaked memo to ‘amp it up’. However, he wasn’t terrible last night, he had his moments when he shared views on more aggressive government policies for the opioid epidemic and his record of military service. As a news source in America said, “The man who was once billed as the future of the Republican Party was simply a non-factor.”
Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum were not even half as memorable. Many saw Doug as a gimmicky candidate who stood on the stage only due to the money flow that injected him there, yet his showing up despite being injured is appreciable to some. Hutchinson was polemical over Trump’s tenure but not as sharp as Christie or others, hence they were forgotten and hidden in the dark shadows.
All in all, Ramasamy, Haley, and Pence have enjoyed a successful session albeit they’re not even close to the ‘Trump Love’ that America has. Trump is predicted to surrender and opt out of debates and give solo appearances on non-Fox News outlets. The impact on the viewers is one only left to be beheld as it bears many uncertainties.
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