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Republican debate rundown
A rapid-fire review
Steve and I are both working our day jobs today, but I wanted give you some quick thoughts on last night’s debate. So here are the debate details on five minutes or less.
Trump Even though he didn’t show up, Donald Trump was a winner with the crowd and most of the candidates clearly on his side.
DeSantis Ron DeSantis held his own but didn’t come out ahead. As someone on Twitter observed, he talks a lot but I haven’t heard him answer a question yet. By failing to stand out, DeSantis was a loser.
Ramaswamy Last night’s punching bag, Ramaswamy lost the debate but may well come out ahead because he scored points with MAGA voters that are today’s GOP. He is articulate and a bright face but also a lightweight who was the most radical of those onstage.
Haley Nikki Haley had a good night. She sounded conservative and came out strong against Ramaswamy on several points, particularly foreign policy. Her line about women, a quote from Margaret Thatcher, was one of the memorable moments of the night, but I’m not sure she made enough of an impact to rescue her campaign.
Scott Scott is nice and positive but loses me when he talks about purging the Department of Justice. Scott is smart enough to know that Trump and his minions are being prosecuted for good cause so my feeling is that he’s being dishonest, which doesn’t pair well with wearing Christianity on your sleeve.
Pence Like Haley, Pence had a good night, however, his firm stance that “Trump was immoral and unethical but I’ll still vote for him” (a paraphrase) won’t win him voters from either camp.
Christie Easily the most booed candidate, Christie had the best line when he likened Ramaswamy to Chat GPT. The crowd did not like Christie, but he held up well.
Hutchinson Along with Christie, the only candidate who didn’t raise his hand to indicate that he would support a convicted Trump, Hutchinson seemed conservative and competent but not exciting. That just isn’t what modern Republicans want.
Burgum Doug Burgum also came across as competent. I was disappointed when he raised his hand to support Trump as well as with his criticism of the oil sanctions on Russia. Nevertheless, I’d like to hear more from him.
A couple of issues were especially prominent as well.
Ukraine I was pleasantly surprised to see broad support for Ukraine with only Ramaswamy not in favor of increased aid. DeSantis hedged his bets by shifting to immigration and questioning whether we could close the border while providing air to Ukraine (spoiler alert: we can). I was glad to see the broad support for Ukraine among the candidates because it’s pretty rare from online Republicans, especially those in the MAGA faction.
Abortion One of the few areas where the non-Ramaswamy candidates disagreed was on abortion. All of the candidates were against abortion but there were different opinions on a proposed federal abortion ban. Pence and Scott were in favor of a ban while Haley argued that such a ban was unrealistic. Burgum made a strong argument in favor of the 10th Amendment right of states to make their own rules about abortion. Talk of a federal ban is not going to help the party.
In summary, I didn’t find anyone to get excited about. I have an active dislike of the front runners and a severe distrust of most of the rest. There are some conservative candidates, but Republican voters aren’t interested in them.
I’ll restate my comment from yesterday that in 2015 I was optimistic about the future of the Republican Party and conservatism. This year, I don’t see much reason for conservatives to be optimistic, except in the hope that MAGA will burn the GOP down and the fire will cleanse the party for the future.
PRIGOZHIN DIES IN PLANE CRASH: The Wagner Group chief apparently died in a plane crash near Moscow yesterday. There are reports that the private jet may have been targeted by a missile
TRUMP TO SURRENDER IN GA: The Former Guy is scheduled to surrender for booking to Fulton County authorities today. He will be released on bond. Several of Trump’s cohorts have already been booked.
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