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Analyzing the RNC Debate

Analyzing the RNC Debate

By RZR News Team
Aug 28, 2023

Fast Facts


The ideological absence of Ron DeSantis on the main stage of the recent RNC debate is a testament to the importance of resolutely championing America First policies. While DeSantis failed to take center stage due to concerns about his commitment to pro-Trump principles, Vivek Ramaswamy seemingly emerged as a clear winner by staunchly defending these values and articulating a clear vision for the future.

DeSantis’s perceived hesitation to wholeheartedly embrace Trump’s platform undermined his position in the debate. In an era where America First policies resonate with a significant portion of the conservative base, any ambiguity can be interpreted as a lack of commitment to the ideals that underpin this movement.

Ramaswamy’s success, on the other hand, underscores the significance of unapologetically advocating for America First policies. His clear articulation of these principles and his unwavering defense of the Trump agenda resonated with voters who are seeking candidates willing to stand firm in the face of ideological challenges.

In a political landscape characterized by division, embracing a steadfast America First approach has become paramount for conservatives. The debate’s outcome highlights that candidates who genuinely champion these principles, without reservation, are more likely to resonate with the base and effectively navigate the current political climate.

Simply put, Ron DeSantis’s perceived reticence on pro-Trump principles cost him the spotlight, while Vivek Ramaswamy’s resolute defense of these ideals propelled him forward. Conservatives must recognize the significance of embracing unapologetically America First policies and defending them with conviction to secure their movement’s success.

Learn more about the conservative viewpoint

Before jumping into each candidate’s performance, here is a general “review” of the entire night. As GOP hopefuls took the Milwaukee stage to a chorus of cheers – or slight booing if your name is Mike Pence – the night was notably missing one man: the metaphorical 500-pound elephant, Former President Donald J. Trump – the embattled Fmr. President, who faces further prosecution in Georgia, chose to stay away from the debates citing various reasons, but, essentially, boiling down to his sizable lead over the rest of the field – Raegan did something similar in 1980 for reference. The night was raucous and offered millions the opportunity to learn more about some of the newer or unknown candidates. Candidates like Asa Hutchinson, Doug Burgam, and Tim Scott were all fairly unknown – unfortunately, that has not really changed. But for Vivek Ramaswamy, it was a stepping stone he needed to further catapult his candidacy. Nikki Haley, the Fmr. Governor of South Carolina and Trump’s ambassador to the U.N. had some strong moments and so too did Mike Pence. But generally, the biggest loser was Ron DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis: 

For a man who used to be seen as the GOP’s future, its golden boy, this night was shocking for his candidacy. Statistically, DeSantis was the front-runner on stage. He neither acted like he was nor treated like he was. Throughout the night, DeSantis touted his Florida track record, beat the drum of isolation, and attempted to scratch out the most hawkish position on the southern border. However, he was dogged by his evident lack of natural charm and connection with the audience. His appearance and mannerisms will be mocked and he had a similar intangible superciliousness as Al Gore. What’s more, is that he was just simply whiney. His yelling, an attempt to project strength, was just limp. If he doesn’t find his feet, and fast, he is dead in the water. This debate was just so painfully underwhelming. 

Grade: D+

Vivek Ramaswamy:

Personally, I really do not like this candidate – at all. He is a proverbial poor man’s Trump mixed with the speaking patterns (and some ideas) of 20th-century dictatorship. He is just so extreme on every issue. What is worse, he does not have the policy prerequisites, especially when it comes to foreign policy. Nikki Haley made that very evident. Ramaswamy is yet another America First (which now borders on isolation) candidate who vehemently rages against woke culture and everything mildly liberal. He also floated the idea of a civics test being a requirement to vote (clearly he has not read the U.S. Constitution or U.S. history when it comes to using tests to bar suffrage). I really, really do not like him, which is probably why the hardliners who cram the auditorium halls love him so much. He did a good job cutting through the noise, had a few good moments (if you are a Republican) and a few moments where he dropped the ball – notably on foreign policy. Generally, it was a mixed bag with a bit of an audition for Donald Trump’s VP pick. But all in all, had arguably the best showing (and he stole former President Obama’s line from a 2007 debate, by the way).

Grade: B+

Nikki Haley:

Her performance was solid. Just generally, from top to bottom, solid. Conservative enough (especially on transgender issues) to get applause from the hall but moderate enough to not scare away independents. It was a thin line she walked very well the entire night. Her foreign policy experience was on full display, dressing down other candidates on their foreign policy positions. Strong on Ukraine and Israel – something Ramaswamy was not. She made an effective argument about what the United State’s role in the world ought to be, living up to the old adage that Republicans are better at foreign policy than domestic. She would be a much better candidate than Trump or DeSantis and would be millions of times better than Ramaswamy. Haley had a very good debate (in my opinion better than Ramaswamy) and a Haley v. Biden race in 2024 would be interesting. 

Grade: A-

Mike Pence:

He was neither good nor bad, but that isn’t really his fault. To start, the entire primary consists of the most dogged and fanatical supporters. It is a group that still believes that Trump won the 2020 election and that Pence betrayed Donald Trump. It is an image he will have to contend with and will inevitably kill his chances. Pence also has the unenviable task of distancing himself from Trump but simultaneously taking credit for all the Trump-Pence achievements. It is a bit of a catch-22 that already has put a halt to any real chance at the nomination. He had his moments especially going after DeSantis and Ramaswamy and showcased his plethora of experience, but he was not amazing. It was just all rather “meh.” 

Grade: B-

Chris Christie

Why is he running? He’s too moderate for this field. His debate was fine, I guess. He was asked some truly horrible questions but pivoted well enough. He’s far too reasonable, competent, and coherent for this GOP circus. Christie spoke well and authoritatively on many issues, but he just does not have a real shot and did not do enough at the debate to change people’s minds. He is a nice enough guy, fairly direct, but just wholly bland as a candidate goes.  

Grade: C

Asa Hutchinson:

I forgot he was on stage. Well, no, not really. But the crowd, other candidates, and moderators sure did. Most eloquent by far, he is not conservative or confrontational enough in this modern GOP. Totally pointless for him to even be there. Wrap up the campaign and save some money.

Grade: D

Tim Scott:

Just a complete non-factor in any way, shape or form. This debate neither hurt nor helped him because his candidacy is already dead. 

Grade: F

Doug Burgum:

He’s a nice enough guy from North Dakota. People love him up there. He has a sort of everyman directness and limited political polish. I would grab a beer with the guy, but as a president, no. Yet another non-factor.

Grade: D

– William J. Goldman

Learn more about the independent viewpoint

The first GOP primary debate was unquestionably a spectacle this past Wednesday. With Trump sitting this one out for “personal” reasons, America got reintroduced to a new line of Republican presidential candidates. Given the course of the debate, it is safe to assume that political newcomer, Vivek Ramaswamy, was the star of the night.

Ramaswamy clashed with various candidates over issues such as political experience, diplomatic policies, and even the former president himself. While Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, was projected to be the primary target of the debate, little to almost nothing was spewed in his direction. In fact, he did not have much to say for the night.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott seemed like an afterthought along with the former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson receiving little to no positive affirmation from the crowd. The rest of the panel consisted of former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, former governor of New Jersey Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, and the governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum.

With the polls not changing much after this past debate, Donald Trump might still be the leading GOP candidate after all of the debates or completed. Ramaswamy being attacked right off the bat clearly means that he is seen as a threat by his competitors. 

Being third behind DeSantis and Trump while not having a political background speaks volumes about his campaign. Every candidate in this debate has held some sort of political position except for him. While he might not become the GOP nominee for the election, he was able to create something of a political reputation for himself. For now, America just has to sit back and wait and see what the next debate has in store.

Learn more about the liberal viewpoint

There is very little to analyze about the first GOP primary debate because it produced no effect on the contest for the nomination. Trump still leads second-place DeSantis by 44 points, which means none of the other contenders are even close to striking distance. The only way Trump might lose support would be if he is convicted of the multitude of charges levied against him and sent to prison, but with 35 percent of polled voters stating they would still vote for him despite any convictions, even this is not guaranteed.

The debate presented an opportunity for voters to learn more about other candidates for President and gave the candidates an opportunity to persuade voters that they would be better contenders for the White House than the former President, but ultimately most voters remained unmoved, making the debate a waste of time and money. There’s little reason to believe that future debates would have different results unless Trump is convicted, and even that might not have any effect on polling numbers. 

The Democratic debates will likely go the same way. There’s little chance Biden is not nominated for reelection. RFK, Jr. can sue all he wants; with Biden holding a commanding lead in the polls, the current President is on track to secure the Democratic nomination, which means America gets to repeat the ugly drama of Biden versus Trump, two terrible candidates who guarantee that America loses no matter which one of them wins.

Americans would be better off paying attention to the Libertarian Party presidential debates. The LP is the only party with principled candidates committed to restoring the liberties the Founding Fathers fought so hard to secure. There have already been two debates featuring some of these candidates, including Mike ter Maat, Lars Mapstead, and Chase Oliver, who forced the Senate runoff in Georgia this past election. These candidates are far superior to anyone running in either major party and should receive serious consideration from the electorate.

Americans should spare themselves the theatrics of the major party debates and watch the professional and solutions-oriented candidates the Libertarian Party has to offer.

– Pietro S. Geraci

Learn more about the libertarian viewpoint