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Hyper-aggressive Vivek dominates Trump-less debate stage as DeSantis plays it safe
And great Scott, at Debate #1, it's Haley (!) not Tim.
Eight Republicans attempting the daunting task of dislodging Donald Trump as their party’s presidential standard-bearer for the third time sparred amongst themselves Wednesday night at the first primary debate of the 2024 campaign season, mostly ignoring the absent former president unless prompted by the moderators.
2024 is here. Time to muscle up.
Vivek Ramaswamy, the only contender on stage who hasn’t held elective office, mixed it up early with his competitors and leaned into his outsider status by taking direct aim at “professional politicians,” describing them as “super PAC puppets.” Aggressive and pugnacious, Ramaswamy filled the role that is usually played by Trump as the epicenter of attention. “Vivek was center stage tonight and he proved why. His understanding of the issues and pulse of the base of our party is spot on,” said Michael Biundo, a veteran Republican strategist who has worked on past GOP presidential campaigns.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis largely took the opposite approach, keeping his criticism trained on President Joe Biden’s economic record, liberal district attorneys for failing to alleviate crime and the media for antagonizing Republicans. His hands-off approach — he spoke less than three other candidates — did no harm but left barely a memorable mark.