Republican debate winners and losers.

Here Are The Winners And Losers From The First GOP Debate

Eight candidates took the stage for the first Fox News GOP debate, and there were clear winners and losers coming out of the Trump-less event.

Republican Debate Winners:


1). Mike Pence – Let’s begin with some reality. Mike Pence isn’t going to win the Republican presidential nomination. Pence is viewed as a traitor by Trump and MAGA, but Fox News gave Pence and his actions on 1/6 an entire segment of the debate to defend his actions, and he took full advantage of it. Pence also took apart Vivek Ramaswamy over Putin and Ukraine. It will probably Pence’s best moment of the campaign, and he was one of the candidates who took the most advantage of Trump’s absence.

Clip of Pence:

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2). Nikki Haley – Debates are largely about creating moments and Haley got herself a soundbite that will be played on cable news for days to come as she got into a heated argument with Ramaswamy on foreign policy. Nikki Haley also will not be the Republican nominee, but like Pence, she was able to separate herself as one of the Republicans with experience who takes foreign policy seriously. Unfortunately for her, voters tend not to care about foreign policy.

Clip of Haley:

3). Chris Christie – There is a theme in the winner section. Chris Christie is not going to be the Republican presidential nominee. If getting booed by the Republican debate audience was a sign of success, Chris Christie had a great night. Chris Christie spoke passionately about going to Ukraine, and condemned Trump and his love of Putin. Christie got booed for daring to criticize the conduct that got Trump indicted. For Christie this debate was all about New Hampshire where he has taken over second place in the polling. Chris Christie has no chance in the larger GOP primary, but he was another experienced debater who knew how to leverage the platform to create moments.

Clip of Chris Christie:

4). Donald Trump –  Sure, Trump is a coward for avoiding the debate while facing four felony indictments, but judging from the rest of this field, it looks like he was right not to show up. None of the candidates on the debate stage are a serious threat to him. In fact, none of these candidates are likely to be his running mate in 2024.  The counterprogramming to the debate by hanging out online with Tucker Carlson likely flopped, but what showed up in the Fox debate stage should cause no worry for Trump.

(No clip of Trump because he didn’t show up.)

Republican Debate Losers:

1). Vivek Ramaswamy –Ramaswamy was exposed in the debate. Judging by who got attacked by the other candidates, Vivek was clearly the candidate who the other campaigns viewed as having momentum. The problem is that Ramaswamy was picked apart by the more experienced candidates who were able to exploit his lack of knowledge and inexperience.

Ramaswamy decided to play the role of Trump’s stand-in at the debate, and he was peppered hard by the other candidates. Ramaswamy is marketing something superficial with no substance. He is following the Trump 2016 campaign playbook to the letter. The problem is that Donald Trump is also in the race, which means that there is no room for a Trump mini-me.

Clip of Ramaswamy:

2). Ron DeSantis DeSantis was forced and awkward which was not surprising. DeSantis is also a terrible debater. What stood out was how the other candidates on the stage did not go after DeSantis. Ron DeSantis wasn’t treated like a frontrunner, He wasn’t treated like someone who has a chance of winning. DeSantis was center stage, but he didn’t command the stage. Ron DeSantis looked and sounded like a confused candidate with no identity, a zombie candidate, who is leading a zombie campaign.

3). Tim Scott- Scott came in as a candidate to watch out for, but he was totally forgettable in this debate. In fact, I forgot to include him in my initial list.

4). Asa Hutchinson- He sounded like a throwback Republican from the pre-Trump GOP takeover era, which meant that he had no place on this stage in this race. Hutchinson will be gone from the campaign after Iowa if not sooner.

5). Doug Burgum – Props to Burgum for debating on what he described as a blown-out Achilles tendon, but that was the highlight of his debate.

6). Fox News – This debate likely still did decent ratings, but it was reminiscent of those kiddie table debates that Fox held during the 2016 campaign for candidates who could not make the main stage. This debate was totally forgettable.

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