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Here's a summary of the article from the Chicago Tribune regarding the first Republican debate in Milwaukee:
- Title: "Vivek Ramaswamy takes center stage, plus other key moments from first Republican debate in Milwaukee"
- Authors: Steve Peoples and Nicholas Riccardi
- Date: August 24, 2023
- Trump and DeSantis: Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have been leading figures in the Republican presidential nomination race. However, during the debate, neither was the dominant presence. Trump chose to skip the debate, and while DeSantis attended, he was overshadowed by Vivek Ramaswamy .
- Ramaswamy's Performance: Vivek Ramaswamy , a political newcomer and technology entrepreneur , was at the center of many of the debate's heated exchanges. He emphasized his background, mentioning how his parents moved to the U.S., giving him opportunities to found billion-dollar companies. Ramaswamy made bold statements, such as being the only person on stage not "bought and paid for" and criticized his rivals as "super PAC puppets."
- Reactions to Ramaswamy: Other candidates responded to Ramaswamy's comments. Mike Pence mentioned that now isn't the time for "on-the-job training" and criticized the idea of bringing in a rookie. Chris Christie compared Ramaswamy's rhetoric to ChatGPT and drew parallels between Ramaswamy and former President Barack Obama. Nikki Haley challenged Ramaswamy's stance on not supporting Ukraine against Russia's invasion.
- Trump's Absence: The candidates took over an hour to address Trump's absence. Most said they'd support Trump even if he was convicted. Ramaswamy stated he would pardon Trump if given the chance and praised him as the best president of the 21st century.
- Abortion: The candidates expressed strong opposition to abortion rights. There was a divide on whether to push for a federal abortion ban. Haley emphasized the importance of leaving the decision to the states, while Pence and Tim Scott supported a national ban.
- DeSantis' Performance: DeSantis , despite being a high-polling contender, seemed to remain in the background during the debate. He had a few strong moments, such as discussing George Soros and his influence on Democratic prosecutors.
- Election Claims: The candidates were asked about their views on the 2020 election results. Most praised Pence for rejecting Trump's pleas to halt Biden's certification. Only Ramaswamy declined to support Pence in this matter.
- Debate Dynamics: The debate had its unruly moments. At times, the moderators struggled to control the candidates, especially when they turned against each other. DeSantis set a tone early on by rejecting a request to raise hands on the topic of climate change, stating, "We're not schoolchildren."