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The 2024 GOP Debate and the Candidates

The debate, the candidates, and the polling.

By:  |  August 28, 2023  |    1097 Words
GettyImages-1635107608 GOP Debate

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The first GOP debate of the presidential primary season started on Aug. 23 when eight Republican candidates took to the stage in Milwaukee, WI, to discuss a wide range of issues for a couple of hours. But who were the White House hopefuls? What were their chief concerns?

GOP Debate – A Primer

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy took center stage of the GOP debate, flanked by former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

GettyImages-1634964782 Ron DeSantis (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy (R)

Ron DeSantis (L) and Vivek Ramaswamy (R) (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

With Ramaswamy rising to the second or third place in the polls, some of the top challengers targeted the entrepreneur, accusing him of being too young to be president and not having enough foreign policy experience. Gov. DeSantis refrained from attacking his rivals, focusing on his public policy pursuits. Gov. Haley took shots at both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, while Pence championed support for Ukraine to fight Russia’s invasion. Christie insisted that the Republican Party needs to no longer enable Trump, and Sen. Scott explained to the audience what he had done in his time in the upper chamber on several key issues. Burgum and Hutchinson, who are considered longshot contenders, homed in separate subjects: the former discussed the US being in a cold war with China and the latter purported that American cannot afford another four years of Biden.

Are These Debates Important?

Political observers have often noted that the early debates, particularly before the Labor Day long weekend, can be both an advantage and a disadvantage for the major candidates. While presidential contenders polling in single digits can use these events to bolster their name recognition and polling positions, the well-known rivals might not gain an advantage in a primary debate in the middle of summer when voters are less inclined to be focused on politics.

The next debate will take place on September 27, 2023, at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA. Another debate is planned for some time in October 2023.

Meet the Candidates

Doug Burgum

  • Former CEO of Great Plains Software
  • 33rd governor of North Dakota
  • Polling at 0%

Key Issues: unleash US energy production, grow the economy, and put forward a pro-business agenda.

GOP Debate Quote: “If we’re going to stop buying oil from the Middle East and start buying batteries from China, we’re just trading OPEC for Sinopec.”

GettyImages-1634991649 (1) C

Chris Christie (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Chris Christie

US Attorney for the District of New Jersey

55th governor of New Jersey

Polling at 1%

Key Issues: strengthening the rule of law, maintain America’s support in Ukraine, and attacking former President Donald Trump.

GOP Debate Quote: “I’ve had enough. I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT. The last person in one of these debates who stood in the middle of the stage and said, ‘What’s a skinny guy with an odd last name doing up here?’ was Barack Obama. And I’m afraid we’re dealing with the same type of amateur.”

Ron DeSantis

  • Former Florida congressman
  • 46th governor of Florida
  • Polling at 13%

Key Issues: fighting far-left ideas in Washington, improving the US-Mexico border, and encouraging Europe to do more in Ukraine.

GOP Debate Quote: “We need to send Joe Biden back to his basement and reverse American decline. And it starts with understanding we must reverse Bidenomics so that middle-class families have a chance to succeed again. We cannot succeed as a country if you are working hard and you can’t afford groceries, a car or a new home, while Hunter Biden can make hundreds of thousands of dollars on lousy paintings. That is wrong.”

GettyImages-1634889295 Nikki Halley

Nikki Halley (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nikki Halley

  • Former United Nations Ambassador
  • 116th governor of South Carolina
  • Polling at 4%

Key Issues: restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington, supporting Ukraine, and finding consensus on critical issues, like abortion.

GOP Debate Quote: “I think this is exactly why Margaret Thatcher said, ‘If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.’”

Asa Hutchinson

  • US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas
  • Former Arkansas congressman
  • 46th governor of Arkansas
  • Polling at 0%

Key Issues: revive a more moderate Republican Party, advance many of former President Donald Trump’s economic policies, and bring more a stable environment to Washington.

GOP Debate Quote: “This is how you compete with China: As president of the United States, I will make sure we go from 51% of our schools offering computer science to every school in rural areas and urban areas offering computer science for the benefit of our kids.”

GettyImages-1635107587 (1) Mike Pence

Mike Pence(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Mike Pence

Former Indiana congressman

50th governor of Indiana

Former vice president

Polling at 6%

Key Issues: put forward many of the same economic policies of the Trump-Pence administration, support Ukraine in its fight against Russia, and push back against abortion at the federal level.

GOP Debate Quote: “Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”

Vivek Ramaswamy

  • Businessman
  • Author
  • Political activist
  • Polling at 5%

Key Issues: championing the Make America Great Again agenda, shrinking the size of the federal government, raising the voting age to 25, and ending military aid to Ukraine.

GOP Debate Quote: “The real choice we face in this primary is this: do you want a super PAC puppet, or do you want a patriot who speaks the truth? Do you want incremental reform, which is what you’re hearing about? Or do you want revolution? And I stand on the side of the American Revolution, rather than this incrementalism.”

GettyImages-1634980953 Tim Scott

Tim Scott (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Tim Scott

  • Former city councillor
  • Former South Carolina congressman
  • US senator
  • Polling at 1%

Key Issues: stopping drug cartels using Chinese labs and Mexican factories, championing the idea that the US “will not try to be the world’s policeman,” and finish America’s economic cold war with China.

GOP Debate Quote: “If you’re able-bodied in America, you work. If you take out a loan, you pay it back. If you commit a violent crime, you got to jail. And if God made you a man, you play sports against men.”


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