GOP Debate: What’s Not to Like? – The American Spectator

Wednesday night, Republican voters had a glimpse of what could be: a 2024 GOP primary not held hostage by the insatiable ego and self-absorbed rantings of former President Donald Trump. Sure, many of the eight hopefuls who — unlike Trump — participated in the Fox News debate in Milwaukee probably won’t remain on the field next year, but none would be an ominous drag on the party.

One of the stars of the night, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, warned: “Trump is the most disliked politician in America. We can’t win a general election that way.”

If the 2024 primary centers on Trump’s 2020 grievances, President Joe Biden wins.

(A recent AP-NORC Center poll found that 53 percent of Americans would “definitely not” support Trump in November 2024, with only 36 percent saying they’d probably or definitely support Trump. In 2020, Biden garnered 7 million more votes than the then-incumbent; few believe Trump can do better next year.)

Haley also took members of her party to task for runaway deficit spending during Trump’s tenure. “The truth is that Biden didn’t do this to us,” she said of the $32 trillion national debt. “Our Republicans did this to us, too” — as when they passed that $2.2 trillion COVID stimulus bill in March 2020.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie served as the party’s conscience when he berated Trump’s decision to push then–Vice President Mike Pence to not certify Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021.

“Someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” Christie argued. “Whether or not you believe the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the office of president of the United States.”

The audience booed.

“This is the great thing about this country,” Christie responded. “Booing is allowed, but it doesn’t change the truth.” Bravo.

Pence robustly defended his refusal to bow to Trump in deference to his constitutional duty. And he mopped the floor with entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. The youngest participant on the stage tried to appeal to the base by hailing Trump as the greatest president in this century.

There’s an argument to be made about limiting U.S. aid to Ukraine. Ramaswamy preferred to whack Pence and Christie for visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom he cheekily dismissed as their “pope.”

Haley schooled Ramaswamy on foreign policy. Christie waved off the businessman as “a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.” It was the sound bite of the night.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis touted his record in Florida. Under his leadership, the Sunshine State has been a magnet for businesses and families looking for a place without California-style intrusive regulations, such as the COVID closures that shut down too many American schools.

With the media fixation on his lack of bonhomie, DeSantis had to hold his own and not come off as a hothead. He succeeded.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott didn’t quite break through. He’s too darn polite for a crowded field.

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is a seasoned policymaker, but he’s a “former” elected official.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum brought a folksy small-town flavor to the stage.

In sum, the Republican Party enjoys a surfeit of candidates who could beat Biden, whose disapproval rating is nearly 53 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average. The question is: Do Republican voters want to win?

Debra J. Saunders is a fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Chapman Center for Citizen Leadership. Contact her at [email protected].


Read More: GOP Debate: What’s Not to Like? – The American Spectator

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.