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The second Republican primary debate of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign was held on September 27, 2023, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The debate was ill-tempered and chaotic, with candidates talking over each other and questions being dodged. Here are the six key takeaways from the second GOP debate:
1. Trump’s Absence Was Felt
Donald Trump, the former president of the United States and a leading Republican contender for the 2024 presidential race, skipped the debate for the second time. His absence was felt throughout the debate, with candidates taking aim at him and his policies. Many of the candidates tried to position themselves as the true heirs to Trump’s legacy, with some even wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.
2. Immigration Was a Hot Topic
Immigration was a hot topic during the debate, with candidates discussing everything from border security to the treatment of undocumented immigrants. Some candidates, like Texas Governor Greg Abbott, took a hardline stance on immigration, while others, like former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, advocated for a more compassionate approach.
3. The Economy Was a Close Second
The economy was a close second to immigration in terms of the topics discussed during the debate. Candidates discussed a range of economic issues, including taxes, trade policy, and job creation. Many of the candidates emphasized the need to create jobs and boost economic growth, with some proposing tax cuts and deregulation as solutions.
4. Foreign Policy Was Largely Ignored
Foreign policy was largely ignored during the debate, with candidates only briefly discussing issues like China and Russia. This was surprising given the current geopolitical climate and the fact that the United States is still involved in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
5. Climate Change Was Not a Priority
Climate change was not a priority for most of the candidates, with only a few briefly discussing the issue. This is concerning given the urgent need to address climate change and the fact that the United States is one of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.
6. The Debate Was Chaotic and Ill-Tempered
Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the second GOP debate was how chaotic and ill-tempered it was. Candidates talked over each other, questions were dodged, and jokes fell flat. This made it difficult for voters to get a clear sense of where each candidate stood on the issues. It also highlighted the deep divisions within the Republican Party, with candidates attacking each other as much as they attacked Democrats.
Despite the chaos, there were a few standout moments during the debate. For example, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine had a heated exchange over immigration, with Rubio accusing DeWine of being soft on border security. Former Vice President Mike Pence also had a strong showing, with many pundits praising his measured and thoughtful responses.
Overall, the second GOP debate did little to clarify the Republican field. With Trump still looming large over the party, which candidate will emerge as the frontrunner remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear: the Republican Party is deeply divided and faces an uphill battle in the 2024 presidential election.