You Make a Difference! Our mission and operations are funded entirely by Patriots like you! Please support the 2023 Year-End Campaign now.

August 25, 2023

The First Debate

We have unresolved questions: What will the polling show and who will get momentum?

On Wednesday night in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Republican voters finally got a chance to see all the Republicans on stage for the first time — all, that is, except the front-runner, former President Donald Trump. He chose to do an interview with Tucker Carlson that streamed on Twitter. After the debate, I have some thoughts.

Asa Hutchinson needs to go away. He was a wasted space on stage. He offered nothing, had weaker answers than anyone else and was like the ugly kid who gets a sympathetic kiss at a spin-the-bottle contest. One can forgive a wasted performance in a debate, but his was wasted and useless.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum surprised me. He had torn his Achilles tendon earlier in the day and made it to the debate nonetheless. He had sharp answers, though he got little talk time.

Chris Christie delivered haymaker after haymaker to Vivek Ramaswamy. He had a really strong performance and is a solid debater. His pivot on the stupid UFO question was brilliant. I think the GOP base will struggle to come to terms moving his direction, but his debate performance was strong and helped him.

Sen. Tim Scott had a weak performance. I love the guy. I wish him well. He struggled to get in on the conversation. He didn’t force himself in. He lacked former Vice President Mike Pence’s aggressiveness. His answers were good, but he kept running out the clock. Hutchinson had a wasted and useless performance. Scott had a weak performance and needs to up his game for the next debate.

Pence’s aggressiveness worked. His defense of conservatism was solid. Pence’s problem remains his reliance on citing the “Trump-Pence administration” record and having no strong answer on why his boss should not be reelected to keep that record going. Mike Pence, why keep the second man of that administration and not the first? Answer that succinctly and strongly, please.

Nikki Haley might have won the debate. Her exchange with Ramaswamy was so solid. Her answers were polished. She showed real passion across a range of issues. I really think her performance had a lasting impression that people will remember. Her team should be proud.

Vivek Ramaswamy will get some support from the “burn it all down” crowd, but his problem is that this is Trump’s constituency. The man said, on stage, that Trump is the best president of the 21st century. Why, then, is he running against Trump? It was obvious on stage that he is not really running against Trump. He’s running as Trump’s blocker and tackler against everyone else. He repeated lines from former President Barack Obama, Sen. Ted Cruz and others and avoided too much policy. On foreign policy, he is naive. His comparison to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as “their (Republicans’) Pope” struck a lot of Jews as antisemitic and many Catholics as anti-Catholic. The bottom line is that it was clear on stage he intends to serve as a proxy for the man he thinks the strongest president of the 21st century and has no intention of becoming president himself.

I think Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis needed a strong performance. He got it. Everyone chose to go after Ramaswamy instead of DeSantis. He appeared above the fray. He stayed out of the fighting. He kept his answers coming back to the future and against President Joe Biden. His border answer was great, and I think his climate change response to a stupid hand-waving exercise was spot on. This should mollify his donors, large and small, even if it might not be enough to turn momentum back in his direction. I suspect, however, he can leverage his position on stage to rebound.

Mike Pence spoke the most at the debate. Asa Hutchinson spoke the least. Vivek Ramaswamy was the only candidate on the debate stage to avoid all criticisms of and attacks against Biden.

As for Trump, his Tucker Carlson interview generated no buzz or interest. Twitter counts a view as three seconds of half the video showing without audio. It appeared in people’s timelines, and they passed it by. It was a strategic mistake for Trump to miss the debate. Now, we have unresolved questions: What will the polling show and who will get momentum? My guess is DeSantis gets another chance to wow voters.


Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2023 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.