During the second 2024 Republican primary debate held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, seven candidates vied for attention and support, aiming to position themselves as the alternative to Donald Trump. This high-stakes event was essential for the contenders to secure funding and backing for the subsequent months of their campaigns. The debate started off hectic with moderators struggling to gain control but it eventually was able to provide viewers with some engaging moments. Here are the winners and losers:
1. Ron DeSantis: After stepping up from the shadows of his first debate appearance, DeSantis energetically challenged President Biden’s leadership, emphasizing the absence of both Biden and Trump in the political arena. With focus points on foreign policy and Florida’s education system, he made an impression, even amidst criticisms. DeSantis faced the greatest expectations and pressure during this debate and it’s fair to say he delivered a strong performance.
The Florida Governor came off as strong but personable and his most notable quote was when he told the audience that Donald Trump is “missing in action.”
DESANTIS SLAMS TRUMP: "Donald Trump is missing in action. He should be on this stage tonight. He owes it to you to defend his record where they added $7.8 TRILLION to the debt.”
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) September 28, 2023
2. Tim Scott: Senator Scott opened the night, questioning Biden’s priorities concerning the UAW strike and the border. He also confronted Ramaswamy over past comments regarding the CCP, providing a memorable exchange between the two. Scott came off as humble and likeable and also impressed with his comments on America overcoming slavery.
3. Chris Christie: The audience warmed up to Christie, and provided more concise answers as the night went on. His call for Trump to join the debate and subsequent jabs at the former president stood out. “Donald Trump hides behind the walls of his golf clubs and won’t show up here to answer questions like all the rest of us. He put $7 trillion on the debt. He should be in this room to answer those questions,” he said.
However, his odd remark on Biden “sleeping with a member of the teachers union” was met with mixed reviews.
4. Nikki Haley: Haley continues her trend from the first debate, confidently challenging her peers. She spotlighted DeSantis’s energy policies and had a sharp-tongued moment with Ramaswamy. However, she failed to put in a stronger performance than the first debate in which many declared her the winner.
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) September 28, 2023
1. Vivek Ramaswamy: The entrepreneur became the center of attention but not for favorable reasons. Criticized for his policy stands and statements, many believe his initial spark is waning.
2. Mike Pence: While Pence tried to create moments echoing his strong performance in the first debate, his latest remarks lacked punch and sometimes missed the mark.
3. Doug Burgum: Despite a significant campaign investment, Burgum struggled to make a significant impact. His few interjections on the UAW strike and child care were overshadowed, leading to a somewhat muted presence.