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Voices Clash and Strategies Shine: Analysis of the First 2024 GOP Primary Debate 

With the primary elections rapidly approaching, the Republican party hosted a debate to inform voters of their political standpoints and potential policies.
Ellie Miller
As the debate unfolded, it became clear that the candidates’ strategies diverged.

The first 2024 Republican presidential primary debate held in Milwaukee provided a vivid snapshot of the crowded GOP field as eight candidates took the stage. The notable absence of former President Donald Trump shifted the spotlight onto his primary rivals, each aiming to secure the second-place position after Trump as the party’s frontrunner. The event, hosted by Fox News, featured anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum as moderators and aired for two hours, capturing the attention of a rowdy crowd of approximately 4,000 people at the Fiserv Forum. 

One prominent theme throughout the debate was the candidates’ varying stances on issues related to the 2020 election and the events of January 6. Former Vice President Mike Pence, who faced pressure to overturn election results, unequivocally defended his choice to uphold the Constitution over political pressure. This stance was particularly emphasized in the wake of Trump’s absence. 

The abortion debate showcased the complex landscape of Republican candidates’ positions. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis touted his signing of a 6-week abortion ban in Florida but avoided directly addressing whether he would endorse a similar federal ban. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, known for her pragmatic approach, called for a narrower approach to abortion legislation, shedding light on issues such as encouraging adoption and allowing medical professionals to abstain from procedures based on moral objections. The varying opinions on abortion reflected the challenge candidates face in balancing anti-abortion stances with the broader political realities and diverse opinions within the party. 

Haley’s presence as the sole woman on the stage provided a distinct dynamic. She leveraged her gender as she navigated the debate, calling attention to her effectiveness as a woman in leadership. However, despite her efforts to distinguish herself, GOP voters have yet to wholeheartedly embrace her candidacy based solely on gender. 

Climate change emerged as another contentious issue. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pulled no punches as he critiqued Vivek Ramaswamy’s assertion that the climate change agenda is a “hoax.” Christie bluntly interrupted the discussion, exclaiming, “Hold on, I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.” This comment underscored the perceived robotic nature of Ramaswamy’s delivery, adding an element of candor and directness to the heated exchange on the stage. As the debate unfolded, it became clear that the candidates’ strategies diverged. While some candidates openly clashed with each other, others took a more measured approach to avoid alienating potential voters. 

As the GOP field grapples with defining the future direction of the party, this debate points out the challenges of maintaining unity in a mixed array of opinions and strategies.

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About the Contributors
Hema Mangat, Sports Editor
Ellie Miller, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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