White House 2024: 8 Candidates Face Off In First Debate Without Trump
Republican presidential hopefuls kicked off the long race for the GOP nomination on Wednesday in Milwaukee with their first debate, though the frontrunner, former President Trump, was not among the eight candidates on stage.
Trump’s absence didn’t stop his rivals from throwing punches, with biotech entrepreneur and political novice Vivek Ramaswamy as an unexpected punching bag at times, as candidates responded to questions on half a dozen issues.
Former Vice President Mike Pence tried to make his presidential case before the Wisconsin crowd, during his response to a question about the economy.
Pence said, “I must say, with all due respect to all of my friends on the stage, and even to one that’s probably looking on, I think I’m unquestionably the best prepared, the most tested, the most qualified and proven conservative in this race.”
The economy was the first to be tackled during what was, at times, a contentious GOP debate, which also tackled the topic of crime.
“The problem is not going to be solved by more money. The problem is that these prosecutors in these localities in the states are refusing to do their job, and to arrest violent criminals,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said.
“We need to lower your gas prices. We’re going to open up all energy production. We will be energy dominant again in this country,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
Eight of the 13 republican took part in this debate, including Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy caused quite a stir when responding to a question about climate change, and if Republicans care about it.
“The climate change agenda is a hoax. The climate change agenda is a hoax,” he said.
“Is climate change real? Yes, it is, but if you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions,” former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said.
“if we want the environment to be better, and we all do, the best thing to do is to bring our jobs home from China,” South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said.
Crime and guns were other issues debated by the candidates.
“One, enforce the law when it comes to crime. Secondly, let’s deal with the challenge of fentynal,” former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.
“On thing I think this country could use is somebody in the White House that understands small town values, because that’s our road back to get this country on track again,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said.
One thing debate moderators did not spend a lot of time on was former President Trump’s legal woes, as he faces four criminal indictments, although they did ask the candidates if they would support Trump should he get the nomination. All candidates raised their hands to indicate they would, though some took longer than others to do so.