Analysis of Claims and Controversies in the Second Republican Presidential Primary Debate

The second Republican presidential primary debate took place on Wednesday night in California, with seven candidates participating.[0] However, the front-runner, former President Donald Trump, chose to skip the debate and instead gave a speech in Michigan amidst a strike by autoworkers.[1] The debate saw the remaining candidates offer up an array of dubious data and claims to support their talking points.[2]

One of the key topics discussed during the debate was immigration. Former Vice President Mike Pence claimed that during his and Trump’s administration, they were able to reduce illegal immigration and asylum abuse by 90%.[3] However, this claim has been disputed by major medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, who state that being transgender is not a mental disorder. While Pence boasted about their achievements on immigration, another candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy, falsely stated that being transgender is a mental health disorder.[3] It is important to note that being transgender is not a mental disorder, but some transgender individuals may experience gender dysphoria, which refers to the distress caused by the mismatch between their sex and gender identity.

Another point of contention during the debate was the construction of a border wall. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claimed that Trump promised to build a wall across the entire border but only ended up building 52 miles of wall.[3] However, Pence contradicted this by stating that they built hundreds of miles of border wall.[3] The discrepancy in their claims can be attributed to the fact that Christie was referring to new fencing where there was previously none, while Pence included replacement fencing for dilapidated or outdated barriers.

The viewership of the second Republican debate saw a significant drop from the first debate, with only 9.5 million viewers compared to the previous 12.8 million. This decline in viewership is notable in comparison to the 2016 election, where the first two Republican primary debates saw 23.9 million and 22.9 million viewers, respectively.

Energy policy was another topic discussed during the debate, with Pence claiming that under the Trump administration, the US achieved energy independence and became a net exporter of energy for the first time in 75 years.[3] However, it is important to note that this trend has continued under the Biden administration, and US energy production continues to boom.[1]

The debate also touched on foreign policy, specifically the Russian war in Ukraine.[1] Christie falsely claimed that Biden said a “small invasion” wouldn’t be so bad.[3] However, Biden never made such a statement and instead emphasized that Russia would be held accountable for any invasion.[3]

Overall, the second Republican presidential primary debate highlighted the varying positions and claims made by the candidates. While some statements were accurate, others were misleading or false. The absence of the front-runner, Donald Trump, added an interesting dynamic to the debate, with candidates taking the opportunity to challenge his record.[4] As the race for the Republican nomination continues, it will be interesting to see how these debates and discussions shape the future of the party.

0. “How to watch the second Republican debate for free—and without cable” Fortune, 27 Sep. 2023,

1. “Fact Check: The second GOP debate of the 2024 election” CNN, 28 Sep. 2023,

2. “Fact-check: six Republican debate claims from crime to immigration” The Guardian US, 28 Sep. 2023,

3. “FactChecking the Second GOP Primary Debate”, 28 Sep. 2023,

4. “Who Won The Second Republican Debate? | FiveThirtyEight” FiveThirtyEight, 28 Sep. 2023,

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