Highlights and Controversies: Recap of the Second Republican Presidential Debate

The second Republican presidential debate took place on Wednesday, September 27, 2023, with seven candidates vying for the party’s nomination.[0] Notably absent from the debate was former president Donald Trump, who has been the front-runner in the race so far. The candidates took the opportunity to criticize Biden and each other, with sparks flying on stage as they tried to stand out from the pack.

One of the standout moments of the debate came from entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who falsely claimed that being transgender is a mental health disorder.[1] This statement drew criticism from major medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, who state that being transgender is not a mental disorder. However, it is worth noting that some transgender individuals do experience gender dysphoria, which refers to distress caused by the mismatch between their sex and gender identity.

Another notable moment came from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who called out Trump for his absence from the debate, stating that he owed it to the voters to defend his record. DeSantis’s comment highlighted the division within the Republican party and the growing frustration with Trump’s dominant presence in the race.

The debate was moderated by Fox News anchor Dana Perino, Fox Business host Stuart Varney, and Univision’s Ilia Calderon.[2] The candidates who participated in the debate were former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.[3]

The third Republican debate is set to take place in early November in Miami, Florida.[4] The qualifying rules for this debate will be even stricter, aiming to further reduce the number of contenders on the stage.[4]

Trump’s absence from the debate was a significant talking point, with several candidates criticizing him for not showing up to answer questions. The candidates also took shots at President Biden, with Senator Tim Scott suggesting that he should be at the southern border instead of on the picket line with striking auto workers.[5]

Overall, the second Republican presidential debate was marked by interruptions, crosstalk, and protracted squabbles between the candidates and moderators.[6] The candidates struggled to stay on topic, frustrating the moderators and preventing the debate from flowing smoothly.[7] The acrimony and personal insults exchanged between the candidates also overshadowed substantive policy discussions.[8]

As the race for the Republican nomination continues, it remains to be seen how Trump’s absence will impact the dynamics of the campaign. With each debate, the candidates have the opportunity to make their case to the voters and distinguish themselves from the crowded field. The third debate in Miami will likely be a crucial moment for those still vying for the nomination.[9]

0. “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

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

2. “Second Republican debate: 1 winner and 3 losers” Vox.com, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.vox.com/2024-elections/2023/9/27/23893654/republican-debate-second-winners-losers-vivek-ramaswamy-fox-news

3. “Conservatives, pundits name their winners and losers from 2nd GOP debate” Fox Business, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/conservatives-pundits-name-winners-losers-2nd-gop-debate

4. “How to watch the second Republican debate for free—and without cable” Fortune, 27 Sep. 2023, https://fortune.com/2023/09/27/how-to-watch-the-second-republican-debate-for-free-and-without-cable

5. “Takeaways from the second Republican presidential debate” CNN, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/09/27/politics/takeaways-republican-debate/index.html

6. “What the GOP candidates said about Ukraine in 4:39 minutes” Responsible Statecraft, 28 Sep. 2023, https://responsiblestatecraft.org/republican-debate-ukraine/

7. “At second GOP debate, candidates spar over economy, immigration, crime” Catholic News Agency, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/255501/second-republican-presidential-debate-economy-border-crisis

8. “Why Nikki Haley’s Attacks Work Better Than Her Rivals'” POLITICO, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2023/09/28/gop-debate-opposition-research-00118680

9. “The second Republican debate’s biggest highlights: Revisit 6 key moments” CBS News, 28 Sep. 2023, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/2024-election-republican-debate

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