There were eight candidates on the Milwaukee debate stage. The consensus from the mainstream media is that only one candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, stood out.
Ramaswamy did not become the center of attention because he was young, quick, telegenic, and relaxed (with an oversized plastic smile that many on social media found irritating). He became the night's star for aggressively pursuing a MAGA agenda without any of former President Trump's baggage.
The similarities to Trump in 2015 were unmistakable. Ramaswamy is an Ivy League-educated millionaire entrepreneur who flies in his own private jet and has never run for public office. Draining the swamp is something he can do well, never having been part of one. The only other authentic non-swamp person with business credentials was North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgam, who created Great Plains software and sold it to Microsoft for over $1 billion before winning the election in a landslide.
The remaining six candidates looked unserious and did not appear to have a strategy to help solve America's and the world's biggest problems. They were all eager for the job but, other than possibly Ron DeSantis, whose biggest political accomplishment has been in turning Florida deep-red, did not instill any confidence that they could become an effective leader of the Free World.
The debate continued for two hours, each candidate reciting practiced lines. But many of the responses were remarkably similar to those that you hear from the Democrats.
Abortion. On abortion, only North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis agreed that the matter has now irreversibly and correctly moved to the states. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that a federal ban was impractical (meaning it was a process issue because the measure couldn't get 60 Senate votes) but did not appreciate the elegance of the Supreme Court decision when it ruled based on the supremacy of the Tenth Amendment. Mike Pence wants a six-week federal ban; Tim Scott wants a 15-week federal ban. Both sounded like Democrats arguing for federal control of a state issue.
Federal debt. No candidate spoke convincingly about how they would solve the country's massive debt problem, now inching towards $50 trillion in ten years. Pence avoided answering a question about how the debt ballooned during his time as VP. Instead, he cautioned that the Trump tax cuts were about to sunset in 2025 and that he would irresponsibly extend them without saying how he would pay for them. No one even raised the issue of entitlement reform, with only a few talking about cuts to discretionary spending, which accounts for less than 15% of the budget.
Election integrity. No one addressed what caused hundreds of thousands to march in Washington on January 6, 2021. No one complimented the many GOP states that have passed election integrity reform laws since 2020. By staying away from the issue, they looked like the average Democrat who insists that a whole slew of 2020 election irregularities (no-excuse absentee ballots, drop-boxes, insufficient signature validation, late acceptance of ballots, illegal Zuckbucks-type contributions, etc.) does not merit attention.
Law and order. While there were comments about the idiocy of defunding the police and fentanyl, no one spoke about the disaster in the summer of 2020 when race riots killed four times as many people as on January 6. No one had a plan to rid American urban areas of homelessness, abject poverty, unhygienic conditions, and drug abuse, other than to argue for more police. We know that stepped-up law enforcement alone will not address the issue.
Big Tech and misinformation. Gov. DeSantis was most comfortable discussing how Florida dealt with school closings and mask mandates. But nearly everyone else seemed more like Democrats. No one challenged COVID's origins; no one declared that it was wrong for the government to work with Big Tech to suppress meaningful dialog under the garb of misinformation. No one criticized the 51 intelligence officers who deliberately helped sway the election to Biden.
Ukraine and foreign policy. The moderators shockingly did not bring up Ukraine until after the debate's first hour. No candidate addressed why Russia did not attack Ukraine when President Trump was in office. No one discussed the risk that the Russia-Ukraine war could escalate to World War III. No candidate assured Americans about nuclear weapons. Pence, Christie, and Haley continued the Democratic establishment position that supporting Ukraine was in America's national security interests, falsely asserting that Putin would invade other NATO countries if he were not stopped. No one discussed the rise of the BRICS countries or how they would take steps to ensure that the dollar remains the world's dominant currency.
Deep State and Lawfare. Other than Tim Scott, Ramaswamy, and DeSantis, no candidate spoke about the weaponization of the DOJ. No one talked about how the Deep State triggered the Russia-Russia-Russia hoax that crippled the first two years of the Trump administration. No debater acknowledged that, based on what we now know about the Biden family's dealings in Ukraine, Trump's first impeachment was unwarranted. No candidate offered that regarding January 6, Trump was already punished -being impeached a second time and acquitted by the Senate - so pressing criminal charges against a political opponent was unAmerican.
The modern GOP is firmly uniparty and indistinguishable from the Washington Democrats and the Beltway types. Without a MAGA agenda, a new GOP administration would essentially look like the Biden administration, except for a few changes to appeal to the religious right.
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