Vivek Ramaswamy may have best summed up the opening Republican debate on Monday night with this frankly grim assessment during his conversation with former Vice President Mike Pence.
Ramaswamy said, “It’s not dawn in America yet, we are living in a dark moment.” When Pence futilely defended good governance in front of Republican nihilists.
A dark moment indeed.
When a Fox News moderator asked the eight Republican candidates on stage whether they would support Donald Trump if he was convicted, most of them looked anxiously at their opponents before raising their hands.
Feel free to watch this profile as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Pence follow Ramaswamy’s lead.
Here’s the wide angle:
Ultimately, six out of eight Republican candidates said they would support in 2024 a man who could be convicted of trying to defraud American voters four years earlier. Only former New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson declined.
It was a relative moment of unity on stage that, like many other critical moments, practically disqualified the Republican’s default position among a group of dial-in independents tracked by the progressive polling consortium Navigator Research.
When it came to the key issues on which the general election is likely to be contested — Trump’s alleged crimes, fitness for office, and abortion — the Republican crowd’s response was almost always the polar opposite of dialed-in independents.
For example, when Christie looked directly at the camera and said of Trump, “Somebody has to stop normalizing this behavior,” the crowd booed. reaction of independents Started trending up.
“Whether you believe or not whether the criminal charges are true or false,” Christie continued, “this conduct is within the office of the President of the United States.”
By the time Christie finished, she had passed 90% among independent women and 80% among independent women overall.
The same was true of former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson’s claim that the January 6 insurrection “morally disqualifies” Trump from running for president. Watch the free lines emerge during Hutchinson’s explanation, just as the audience boos begin to drown him out.
The other side of the coin was that Ramaswamy was falling out completely with the independents as he declared Trump to be the “Best President of the 21st Century”. The crowd became furious.
Brian Bennett, Navigator’s senior polling director, tweeted, “Pence is totally blasting the dials when talking about abortion.” “The age of independent women has dropped below 30. This is one of the most consistently unpopular answers today.”
An area of collaboration: When Ramaswamy called climate change a “hoax”, he was momentarily successful in rallying the independent members and audience of Navigators against him.
Outside of the MAGA bubble, Haley had a good night: She was strong, empowered, and continued to tell viewers the truth they didn’t want to hear.
“We have to face the fact that Trump is the most disliked politician in America.” Haley said at one point.
On foreign policy, he slammed Ramaswamy for favoring Russia over Ukraine, saying, “You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.”
Haley needed to convince high-dollar Republican donors that they should continue to fund her candidacy, and she likely succeeded.
Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis hammered another nail in the coffin of his poor campaign. He sounded like a canned politician Kept reciting strangely memorized lines all night.
DeSantis actually went berserk just before making his closing statement.
But inside the MAGA bubble, Ramaswamy—whom MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reed called “your annoying college roommate”—was likely killed.
CNN asked a group More than a dozen Iowa Republicans won the debate, and only three candidates received votes: two for DeSantis, four for Haley, and seven for Ramaswamy.
Ramaswamy played the role of Trump all night. His approach to the Republican Party was Trump’s approach, he was an expert blowatter with zero experience, and he shamelessly stole from his political predecessors.
During his introduction to the audience, Ramaswamy joked that everyone was wondering, “Who is this skinny guy with the weird surname?” Familiar? This is an Obama classic from the 2004 Democratic convention speech that launched him into the political stratosphere.
Even Ramaswamy’s dark moment was quoted from Trump’s 2017 American Genocide inaugural address.
In short, Ramaswamy is a hypocrite, a fool, just like Trump. And of the eight candidates on the platform, he is the one who won over MAGA Republicans.
In other words, they chose Trump even though Trump wasn’t there. This is downright ominous, especially when you watch the results of the CNN focus group after the debate, as captured @asin on X.