What happened on the debate stage in Milwaukee among Republican presidential candidates last Wednesday — and what’s Trump got to do with it? In this special episode of KK&F, we give you a detailed breakdown of the first debate of the campaign season. Analyzing everything from spicy exchanges between the candidates to who came out on top Wednesday night (and whether or not it’s enough to threaten Trump’s lead), we’ve got a comprehensive look at the debate that we think you’ll enjoy. Watch clips and listen to our conversation here.
Part of Wednesday night’s political spectacle were the heated exchanges between candidates looking to elbow their way to the front of the pack by scoring points on each other. Take, for example, this heated exchange between former NJ Governor Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy:
As the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, Trump’s shadow was bound to loom over the debate, and it’s in their affiliation with or self-distancing from Trump that the candidates have differentiated themselves. From Christie’s critiques of Trump to Ramaswamy’s praise, there’s a spectrum of support for Trumpism among the 2024 presidential hopeful pack. (It’s worth noting that six of the eight candidates on the stage raised their hands to show that they would back Trump as Republican nominee even in the event of his conviction.)
Another interesting element of the debate-stage dynamics was, of course, interaction between newcomers on the political scene and those who have gained establishment — especially through top roles in the Trump admin, as was the case with former Trump VP Mike Pence and UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Watch Pence’s dust-up with “rookie” Vivek Ramaswamy here, and Haley’s exchange with Ramaswamy below:
Altogether, a major focus of the night was the political outsider: Vivek Ramaswamy’s was not the biggest name in this race going into Wednesday, and he certainly lacks much of the polling support that other candidates — not just Trump — have been counting on. Yet he was a major focus on the debate stage, playing foil to more established candidates and suggesting himself as an alternative to entrenched Washington career politicians. In our conversation, we get at the significance of this new dynamic in the race for the Republican nomination, which is only just getting started.
Thanks for joining us. You can listen to this episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pandora, and other major streaming platforms.