Now Reading
Who Won the Republican Primary Debate? Political Pundits are Divided Between Haley and Ramaswamy

Who Won the Republican Primary Debate? Political Pundits are Divided Between Haley and Ramaswamy

  • While the tense exchanges between the two Indian Americans on Israel and Ukraine were the highlights of the first Republican debate, the former South Carolina governor appeared confident and poised, while the political neophyte came across as a cantankerous smart aleck.

Eight Republican presidential candidates faced off last night in the first primary debate of the 2024 campaign in Milwaukee. They engaged over a number of issues as they made their case as to why they are the best to replace frontrunner Donald Trump. The former president skipped the debate ahead of his expected surrender today in the Georgia 2020 election subversion case. He was however conspicuous in his absence, with Vivek Ramaswamy playing his proxy on the stage, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie expectedly becoming Trump’s staunchest critic. Ramaswamy cast himself as a businessman outsider and tussled with Christie and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, not to mention former Vice President Mike Pence.

While Ramaswamy was widely viewed as one of the top performing candidates on the Milwaukee debate stage, “speaking often and dodging repeated attacks from several candidates,” as Politico reported, Haley made the most of being the only woman on the debate stage. “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman,” she said to loud cheers, as the men around her bickered. 

So, with two Indian Americans on the debate stage, which desi did better? Several pundits and politicos weighed-in. “Haley had an excellent night,” said David Axelrod, a senior political commentator at CNN. According to his colleague Abby Phillip, CNN political correspondent anchor of CNN NewsNight, “Haley’s whole mantra” that she “doesn’t back down to bullies,” showed on the debate stage. 

Further examining her performance, the network noted how “Haley broke with the old guard in some meaningful ways” on issues like abortion and climate change. “Additionally, she had some terrific clap-backs at the overly angry Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the overly annoying Ramaswamy, proving she may be older than both but is also more experienced, and may be younger than Biden and Trump, but she’s tough, too,” CNN said. “All in all, Haley’s attempts at staying above the fray of childish insults while inserting herself strategically, and making the case that she does, in fact, have a more modern approach than the rest of her party, make her the first debate’s winner.”

The New York Times declared Haley the winner as well. “Haley made the most of her time before the cameras,” the publication said in its post-debate analysis. She also succeeded in reminding the GOP voters “that she was in the race, and why,” The Times said. She “landed some punches — including her opening whack at Republican lawmakers for their heavy spending under President Trump,” the daily noted. She also stood her ground “during a tussle with Ramaswamy over foreign policy,” and “starkly branded Trump ‘the most disliked politician in America’ to make the argument that the GOP cannot win with him as its standard bearer.” However, The Times said that Haley’s “single biggest moment came in a blast at Ramaswamy over the entrepreneur’s deep skepticism about funding for Ukraine. Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, she told Ramaswamy: “This guy is a murderer, and you are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.” She also interjected him when he opposed sending more U.S. aid to Ukraine, “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.” 

Ramaswamy was also in his element, eloquently demonstrating what Politico called “his knack for populist one-liners.” But he appeared “smart-alecky and disrespectful of his fellow contestant,” Fox News said, dismissing others on the stage referring to them as “super PAC puppets,” adding he’s “the only one on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for.” He also admitted that he found it “offensive that we have professional politicians who will make a pilgrimage to Kyiv, to their pope [Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy]without doing the same for the people in Maui or the south side of Chicago.” Pence retorted saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training,” while Christie punched back saying he’s “had enough” of Ramaswamy, and said he sounded like Chat GPT. 

Meanwhile, Politico advised that everyone “learn how to pronounce Ramaswamy’s first name — Vivek ((it rhymes with “cake”) — “because he’s not going away..” According to the publication, he has “learned well” how to pick a few spots and exaggerate policy differences with rivals,” and at the same time be entertaining. 

See Also

Despite mixed reviews, Trump crowned Ramaswamy the winner of the Republican presidential debate for singing his praises. “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century,” he said in a clip from the debate Trump posted on Truth Social. “This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you Vivek!”

It wasn’t Ramaswamy’s only instance defending Trump during the debate, as Politico noted. He was also the first candidate to raise his hand when asked who would support the former president as the party nominee if he is convicted on any of the felony charges that he’s facing. “Join me in making a commitment that one day you would pardon Donald Trump,” Ramaswamy challenged Pence, who mostly dodged the question.

FoxNews offered its take on Ramasamy’s performance last night, noting that while he had “substantial momentum” coming into the debate, “in just two hours, he blew that advantage, and — most probably — any chance he might have had of securing the nomination.” Noting why it is “easy to see why his supporters could make the case that he shone,” it said “he’s clearly different, he withstood some heavy verbal blows and he offers a candidacy uniquely in step with the sensibilities of a new, younger generation.”

According to the news network, “the degree to which Ramaswamy was targeted by other candidates is also a backhanded compliment to the threat he poses.” But at the same time, it described him as seeming “shallow at times, especially on Ukraine and in his craven promise to pardon Trump of any convictions if elected president.” It raised “a question mark around his overall demeanor,” it said, adding that “the traits that his fans see as confidence and clarity can just as easily read as self-satisfaction and glibness.” Meanwhile, according to the NYT’s tracker, Ramaswamy was tied with Trump “in terms of the number of attacks he received from his opponents, a clear sign of his rise.”

The Hill observed in its report that he “might get a polling boost simply from being able to introduce himself to such a large audience, his weaknesses were badly exposed as well.” However, Ramaswamy shrugged it all with his signature smile. The campaign trails, future debates and Trump’s legal battles will decide whether he or Haley stand a chance at the White House. 

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top