March 1, 2024

Key takeaways from the second Republican debates

Last Wednesday the Ronald Reagan National Library in Simi Valley California hosted the GOP’s second presidential debate. Seven candidates took to the stage including Nikki Haley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Doug Burgum, Tim Scott, Mike Pence and Vivek Ramaswamy. 

The field of candidates has narrowed down from eight in August. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson failed to meet the qualifications in order to make the debate stage. That number is expected to decrease as causes and primaries begin with Iowa on Jan. 15th, 2023. 

While the front runner and former President was once again absent, Donald Trump was not ignored. Though many of the candidates chose not to talk about Trump, a few did. DeSantis made a point to say he was “missing in action”, and Christie told viewers if he “kept ducking” the debates he should instead be called “Donald Duck.” 

Upcoming dates in the 2024 Presidential and General Election cycle.

However, Trump was not the only candidate subject to mudslinging. The 38-year-old entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy was repeatedly questioned by candidates and moderators alike about his business dealings with China. 

The nature of these dealings, according to the candidates, were not clear, but Newsweek can confirm that Ramaswamy no longer has business ties to China. In 2014 his biotech company Roivant Sciences joined CITIC PE, a company run by the Chinese government, in order to form a larger pharmaceutical company. The arrangement has since been dissolved. 

Outside of his attacks, Ramaswamy made a splash when he advocated for changes to the citizenship qualifications. His proposed change would end “birthright citizenship for the kids of illegal immigrants in this country.” He defended his answer, arguing that the precedent set by the 14th amendment did not extend to immigrants, and had been misconstrued by members of the democratic party. 

Despite the topic of the United Auto Workers strike being skimmed over, education and teachers unions were not. Christie was the first candidate to hit the topic of education, which did not land well for him with the other candidates, especially Pence. 

During his monologue, Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie argued that he had previously “beat” the teachers unions in his home state. He added that his decisions on educational policy would not be biased as he was “not sleeping with a member of the teachers unions” in reference to the First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. 

The comment fell short with both moderators and fellow former Governor Pence, who refuted the comment. His wife, Karen Pence, was an educator for more than 30 years. He did not include that the former Second Lady never aligned herself with a teachers union during her career. 

Another former Governor and former ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, picked up several points in the polls following the debate. As the third place candidate, this gain could spell trouble for the DeSantis campaign who she is reportedly outpacing in a few polls. 

The Hill reported that Haley has taken over second place in the state of New Hampshire. Haley is just above DeSantis’ 11% at 15%. The Governor of Florida has reportedly dropped 18 points since March of this year. 

In Ohio, FiveThirtyEight has found Trump to hold a 28%-64% lead on his competitors, with second place going to DeSantis. However, one poll from Ohio Northern University placed Ramaswamy in the second place position. 

Ohio will hold its primary elections on March 19, 2024. All university students who are Ohio residents can request their absentee ballot on the Secretary of Sate’s website. Out of state students can find more information on their primary or caucus on the National Conference of State Legislatures webpage

The third debate will take place in Miami on Nov. 8. The Republican National Committee has not yet determined a venue or time.


  • Josie Speakman

    Josie is a first-year Political Science major with a Spanish minor on a Pre-Law track. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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