Vivek Ramaswamy Emerges as the Center of Attention: Highlights from the Initial Republican Debate

by Joshua Brown
focus keyword Republican presidential debate

Certainly. Here’s a paraphrased version of the text:

For most of the year, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been leading figures in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. However, neither managed to command the spotlight during the debate on Wednesday evening.

Despite Trump’s significant lead in the polls, he chose to abstain from the GOP’s first presidential primary debate. DeSantis did participate but found himself outshined by political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy.

The night was filled with fervent performances from the other participants, including former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who seized every opportunity to be assertive.

Over an hour into the event, the conversation turned to Trump’s legal issues, in anticipation of his surrender on charges the next day. Concurrently, Trump engaged in an interview aired on X, previously known as Twitter, with his team implying that the debate served mainly as a tryout for his potential vice president.

Key Takeaways from a Lively Night:

The shadow of Trump lingers, but many Republicans welcome the prospect of a campaign without him.
The 8 candidates set for the GOP’s inaugural debate: who’s in, who’s out, who’s boycotting.
The Republican candidates confront one another, mainly supporting Trump, at the first debate.


During a debate hosted by FOX News Channel on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy exchanged words.

Unexpectedly at the core of the debate was Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old novice candidate and tech entrepreneur. He shared the story of his underprivileged parents who immigrated to the U.S., allowing him to establish billion-dollar corporations.

Ramaswamy then took a combative stance, pronouncing himself as the only independent candidate on stage, and lashing out at his competitors as “super PAC puppets.” His rivals were not receptive to his rhetoric.

Pence warned against electing a “rookie,” and Christie criticized Ramaswamy’s style, comparing it to former President Obama. Ramaswamy responded with a reference to a previous interaction between Christie and Obama.

Haley vehemently opposed Ramaswamy’s stance on U.S. support for Ukraine, accusing him of lacking foreign policy experience.


The missing Trump was eventually addressed more than an hour into the debate.

Several candidates expressed their support for Trump, even if convicted, despite his facing over 90 criminal counts across different jurisdictions. The youngest GOP candidate for 2024, 37-year-old Ramaswamy, pledged to pardon Trump if given the opportunity.

Christie, however, strongly criticized Trump’s conduct, calling it unworthy of the presidency.


The Republicans openly demonstrated their opposition to abortion rights. But divisions emerged, especially regarding the potential enactment of a federal abortion ban.

Haley called for honesty and emphasized the importance of state-level decisions, while Pence and Scott ardently supported a national ban.

DeSantis, who had recently enacted a strict abortion ban in Florida, remained non-committal about a federal prohibition.


The Democratic Party likely appreciated the debate, planning to focus on abortion during the general election.


DeSantis found himself overshadowed by Ramaswamy, rarely engaging in direct confrontations.

Despite some strong remarks, DeSantis struggled to counter criticisms of being stiff and formal and failed to seize opportunities to change the public’s perception.


Haley stood out as the only woman and the lone person not in the traditional dark suit and red tie.

She emphasized the importance of women’s education, transgender girls’ participation in sports, and spoke about U.S. relations with Ukraine.


The candidates, with the exception of Ramaswamy, expressed support for Pence’s refusal to halt Biden’s certification as the winner on Jan. 6.

The network’s recent libel suit settlement of $787 million added weight to these candid statements, including Pence’s assertive remark about choosing the Constitution over Trump.


The debate began calmly but became unruly as candidates turned against each other.

DeSantis set a defiant tone early on, and later, Ramaswamy and Haley’s heated exchange went uninterrupted by the moderators, Baier and MacCallum.

The pair allowed the candidates to steer much of the night’s action, resulting in a lively but at times disorderly event.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about focus keyword Republican presidential debate

Who took center stage during the first Republican presidential primary debate on August 23, 2023?

Vivek Ramaswamy, a novice candidate and technology entrepreneur, overshadowed other contenders and took center stage during the debate.

What was former President Donald Trump’s response to the debate?

Donald Trump decided to skip the GOP’s opening presidential primary debate and instead scheduled counterprogramming with an interview aired on a platform formerly known as Twitter.

Who were some of the aggressive performers during the debate?

Former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie were noted for their aggressive performances during the debate.

What was the stance of candidates on abortion rights during the debate?

The Republicans on stage expressed strong opposition to abortion rights. There was a divide among the candidates over whether to push for a federal abortion ban, with some advocating for a states-only approach and others endorsing a national ban.

How did Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis perform in the debate?

Ron DeSantis seemed to slide into the background during the debate, rarely engaging in back-and-forth exchanges. While he had strong moments, his performance may not have dispelled criticism of being awkward and wooden.

What was the general reaction to false election claims made by former President Trump?

During the debate, candidate after candidate praised former Vice President Mike Pence for rejecting Trump’s pleas to halt Biden’s certification on Jan. 6, except for Vivek Ramaswamy, who declined to support Pence.

What was the stance of the candidates on the issue of climate change?

During the debate, when asked to raise hands if they believed human behavior caused climate change, DeSantis rejected the request, stating, “We’re not schoolchildren,” and the moderators abandoned their request.

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Mary Johnson August 24, 2023 - 10:51 pm

i’m still not sure who to vote for. all the candidates are pretty much saying the same things. does it really make a difference?

Sarah Green August 25, 2023 - 12:17 am

Why is no one talking about healthcare? So frustrating. They’re all just going around in circles and no ones really addressing the big issues!

James Carter August 25, 2023 - 1:35 am

I thought that the debate was alright. Some good moments, some bad. Though i think we need to be really looking at the policy stances rather than who’s talking loudest.

John Smith August 25, 2023 - 5:10 am

That debate last night was something else, huh? DeSantis really seemed to be holding his own. Trump though, not sure what he’s thinking sometimes

Mike Wilson August 25, 2023 - 7:46 am

the candidates need to focus more on climate change and less on attacking each other, This is important stuff and they’re all avoiding the issue,


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