Highlights and Controversies from the Second Republican Presidential Debate

The second Republican presidential debate took place on Wednesday night, featuring seven candidates vying for the party’s nomination for the 2024 election.[0] Notably absent was former president Donald Trump, who is currently the GOP’s front-runner.[1] The debate was held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, and was moderated by Fox News anchor Dana Perino, Fox Business host Stuart Varney, and Univision’s Ilia Calderon.[2]

One of the winners of the debate was entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who made headlines for falsely claiming that being transgender is a mental health disorder. Ramaswamy’s statement contradicts the positions of major medical organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, which both recognize that being transgender is not a mental disorder. They do acknowledge, however, that some transgender individuals may experience gender dysphoria, which refers to distress or impairment caused by the mismatch between a person’s sex and gender identity.

Another winner of the debate was former vice president Mike Pence, who has been critical of Trump’s involvement in attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.[3] Pence specifically criticized Trump’s pressure for him to refuse to count certain Electoral College votes, a theory that he rejected as unconstitutional.[4] Pence has continued to distance himself from his former boss while hitting the campaign trail.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also had a strong showing in the debate.[3] He emphasized that polls do not elect presidents, but rather, voters do.[5] DeSantis dismissed Trump’s dominant lead in the polls, asserting that the ultimate decision lies in the hands of the voters.

On the other hand, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has centered his campaign around criticizing Trump, delivered a memorable line during the debate.[6] He addressed Trump directly, saying, “You keep doing that, no one up here’s gonna keep calling you Donald Trump anymore, we’re gonna call you Donald Duck.”[7] Christie accused Trump of hiding behind the walls of his golf clubs and avoiding answering questions like the rest of the candidates.[6]

In addition to these key moments, the debate featured heated exchanges between the candidates, with sparks flying as they tried to break out from the pack and leave an impression on voters.[8] Some candidates, like former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, faced criticism from their fellow candidates.[9] Haley was accused of backing a gas tax and upgrading the curtains in her office during her time as governor and United Nations ambassador.[6]

Overall, the second Republican presidential debate provided viewers with insight into the various candidates’ positions and strategies as they vie for the party’s nomination.[4] The debate showcased both moments of contention and moments of strength, highlighting the diversity within the Republican party and the competitive nature of the primary race. As the election season continues, it will be interesting to see how these candidates further distinguish themselves and appeal to voters.

0. “Young Iowa Republicans weigh in on second GOP presidential debate” KCCI Des Moines, 29 Sep. 2023, https://www.kcci.com/article/des-moines-young-iowa-republicans-weigh-in-on-second-gop-presidential-debate/45365363

1. “Who won the Republican presidential debate? Our winners and losers” The Washington Post, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2023/09/27/who-won-republican-debate/

2. “FactChecking the Second GOP Primary Debate” FactCheck.org, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.factcheck.org/2023/09/factchecking-the-second-gop-primary-debate/

3. “Everything you need to know about the second Republican 2024 presidential debate – with Donald Trump skipping” Daily Mail, 27 Sep. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12555715/Everything-need-know-second-Republican-debate-California-Donald-Trump-skipping-speak-auto-strikers-Detroit.html

4. “How to watch the second Republican debate” NPR, 26 Sep. 2023, https://www.npr.org/2023/09/26/1201663465/second-republican-debate-california

5. “Winners and losers of the second GOP presidential debate” The Hill, 28 Sep. 2023, https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4227316-winners-and-losers-of-the-second-gop-presidential-debate

6. “Republican debate updates: Donald Trump skipped the GOP debate again. This time, his rivals took him on directly” KABC-TV, 28 Sep. 2023, https://abc7.com/republican-debate-reagan-library-simi-valley/13834595/

7. “A Trump Party in the Reagan Library” The Economist, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.economist.com/united-states/2023/09/28/a-trump-party-in-the-reagan-library

8. “GOP contenders battle for spotlight at 2nd debate” TODAY, 27 Sep. 2023, https://www.today.com/video/gop-contenders-battle-for-spotlight-at-2nd-debate-193956933981

9. “Candidate scorecard: Who won Republican presidential debate?” The Boston Globe, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2023/09/28/nation/scorecard-grading-debate-performance-republican-candidates/

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