GOP primary candidates take the stage- Genznews

Haley comes out swinging at Trump, DeSantis, Pence and Scott

Haley threw some of the first intra-Republican punches of the night, name-checking Trump, DeSantis, Pence and Scott as she decried reckless government spending.

“No one is telling the American people the truth,” Haley said. “Biden didn’t do this to us, our Republicans did this to us, too, when they passed that $2.2 trillion Covid stimulus bill.”

She called for cutting spending and borrowing and eliminating earmarks to address the issue.

“You have Ron DeSantis, you’ve got Tim Scott, you’ve got Mike Pence, they all voted to raise the debt, and Donald Trump added $8 trillion to our debt and our kids are never going to forgive us for this,” Haley said.

You tell me who are the big spenders? I think it’s time for an accountant in the White House,” she said.

Kevin Breuninger

Tim Scott rails against Joe Biden and his administration in his opening remarks

Reporters watch Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) speak on television during the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum on August 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C, came out swinging against President Joe Biden and his administration and what he sees as excessive government spending.

Scott told the crowd in Milwaukee that under Biden “we’ve seen inflation explode” and noted how mortgage rates are up to around 7%.

When pushed by the Fox News hosts that Scott supported spending increases during former President Donald Trump’s administration, Scott insisted that was due to the federal emergency from the Covid-19 pandemic.

— Brian Schwartz

Chris Christie gets boos from the audience

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie launches his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., June 6, 2023.

Sophie Park | Reuters

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was the only candidate on the stage to receive boos from the audience in the opening minutes of the debate.

Within the GOP field, Christie stands out as the toughest critic of the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump.

Trump skipped the debate, but he nonetheless cast a long shadow across the stage in Milwaukee.

— Christina Wilkie

Ramaswamy says he’s the outsider America needs

Vivek Ramaswamy opened up with the question he said was on everyone’s mind: Who is he and “what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?”

Ramaswamy introduced himself as an outsider best positioned to lead the Republican Party.

“I do think it’s going to take an outsider. Because for a long time we’ve had professional politicians in the Republican Party who have been running from something, now is our moment to run to something.”

Emma Kinery

Ron DeSantis says ‘our country is in decline’ because of Bidenomics

Ron DeSantis said ‘Bidenomics’ isn’t working and it is time for President Joe Biden to go “back to his basement.”

“Our country is in decline. This decline is not inevitable, it’s a choice,” DeSantis said. “We need to send Joe Biden back to his basement and reverse this decline.”

Emma Kinery

‘I don’t think it’s right to do it’: Trump gives rationale for skipping debate

Trump said he skipped the first presidential debate because he did not want to be “harassed” by candidates who are significantly behind him in the polls.

“I’m saying, do I sit there for an hour or two hours, whatever it’s going to be, and get harassed by people that shouldn’t even be running for president? Should I be doing that?” Trump told Tucker Carlson in a pre-taped interview that went up on X, formerly Twitter, just before the debate began.

Trump also took a shot at Fox News, the network hosting the debate, accusing it of being not “friendly to me.”

“I don’t think it’s right to do it,” Trump told Carlson.

I’m gonna have all these people screaming at me, shouting questions at me, all of which I love answering but it doesn’t make sense to do it,” Trump said. “So, I’ve taken a pass.”

Trump previously signaled on social media that he could skip the Republican National Committee’s other scheduled debates.

Kevin Breuninger

Meet the candidates: Nikki Haley

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley campaigns at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, August 12, 2023.

Scott Morgan | Reuters

Nikki Haley is the former governor of South Carolina who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration. Haley resigned in response to Jan. 6 but has continued to be supportive of Trump. She has focused much of her campaign on her foreign policy chops, expressing support for Ukraine and Taiwan.

Haley, 51, became the first person of color to be elected governor in South Carolina when she took office in 2010. She is a graduate of Clemson University.

Emma Kinery

Biden to watch ‘as much as I can’ of the Republican debate

U.S. President Joe Biden departs the White House on August 17, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Win McNamee | Getty Images

President Joe Biden said he planned to watch at least some of the Republican debate while vacationing at Lake Tahoe.

“I’m going to try to see — get as much as I can, yes,” Biden told reporters.

Asked if he had any expectations for the event, Biden said “I have none.”

Emma Kinery

Meet the candidates: Ron DeSantis

Republican U.S. presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis prepares meals, as he campaigns at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. August 12, 2023. 

Scott Morgan | Reuters

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is widely seen as the most formidable challenger to frontrunner Donald Trump. DeSantis has consistently placed second in national polls of the sprawling GOP primary field. But his campaign has come under mounting pressure as Trump appears to be widening his lead over the governor and has already launched multiple “resets.” The 44-year-old former congressman is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School and a veteran having served in the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps.

DeSantis’s right-wing policies have made him popular in his home state, but some worry stunts like sending migrants to democratic-run cities and his lawsuit against Disney may make him too polarizing for the general election.

Emma Kinery

Where the Republican presidential candidates stand on Russia’s war in Ukraine

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the Kharkiv region for the first time since Russia started attacks against his country, on May 29, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Republican candidates are divided over America’s future role in Ukraine as the war marches into its 600th day.

Some candidates in the Republican field have come to the stout defense of Ukraine, NATO allies and American democracy. Others have called for policies that would pull U.S. involvement and support away from the European continent in order to deal with China’s global rise, North Korean ambition and Iranian aggression.

Nearly all of the candidates have leveled criticism over Ukraine at President Joe Biden.

Read the full story of where the candidates stand on the war in Ukraine.

— Amanda Macias

Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is interviewed by Former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson (not pictured), during the Family Leadership Summit at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa, July 14, 2023.

Scott Morgan | Reuters

Vivek Ramaswamy, 38, is an entrepreneur and biotech founder with no prior military or political experience. He studied biology at Harvard University before attending Yale Law School. In 2014, he founded Roivant Science and resigned as CEO in 2021.

Ramaswamy recently suggested “the truth” about the September 11 attacks is still unknown. He initially claimed that he had been misquoted in an article by The Atlantic, however, the publication later released an audio clip of his interview showing that he was quoted accurately.

He has previously said that he opposes U.S. aid to Ukraine by arguing that the conflict on the European continent does not affect American interests. He says the Russia-China axis is by far the top threat to U.S. national security and should therefore pull more focus.

Ramaswamy has also detailed a peace settlement between Kyiv and Moscow that would include Ukraine conceding nearly all of its Donbas region to Russia in exchange for guarantees that Ukraine will not join the NATO alliance.

He recently pitched closing all American military installations located in Eastern Europe in order to appease the Kremlin. Ramaswamy says the U.S. in return should ask Russia to lessen its relationship with China.

— Amanda Macias

Hours before debate starts, Trump campaign declares victory

Supporters of Republican presidential candidate former U.S. President Donald Trump carry signs around the Fiserv Forum on August 23, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Win Mcnamee | Getty Images

Around noon ET on Wednesday, hours before the first Republican debate was set to begin, the Trump campaign declared victory in the spar he isn’t participating in.

“President Trump has already won this evening’s debate because everything is going to be about him,” Trump campaign senior advisor Chris LaCivita said in a statement. “Only President Trump has the policy ideas, the fortitude, and the polling to go head-to-head with Crooked Joe Biden in the general election.”

LaCivita said the number of times Trump’s name was mentioned during the debate would be counted as his speaking time.

“When the other candidates do get a chance to speak, they will be a faint echo, or maybe even a copycat, of President Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda.”

LaCivita closed by saying the event “really shouldn’t even be called a debate” but was more of an audition to be part of Trump’s team.

Emma Kinery

How did the candidates qualify for the debate?

Candidates needed to meet the threshold set by the Republican National Committee in order to qualify for the debate.

Those benchmarks include at least 40,000 individual campaign donations and meeting the polling qualifications, either 1% in three different national polls, or 1% in two national polls and 1% in another poll from an early state like Iowa.

In order to participate candidates also needed to sign a pledge of support to whomever gets the party’s nomination. Donald Trump, who is the frontrunner in the race, has refused to sign the pledge.

In an interview with Newsmax, Trump was adamant he would not sign the pledge, saying “Why would I sign it? I can name three or four people that I wouldn’t support for president. So right there, there’s a problem.”

Emma Kinery

How to watch the first Republican presidential debate

Workers make preparations outside the debate hall for Republican U.S. presidential candidates to gather for their first primary debate of the 2024 presidential campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 22, 2023.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The debate will start at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday in Wisconsin, a battleground state, at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum.

Fox News is hosting the first GOP presidential debate in the leadup to the primaries, with network hosts Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum at the moderating table. The debate will be available across all platforms operated by the Fox News network, including Fox Business Network, Fox News Digital, Fox’s website, the Fox Nation streaming service as well as Fox News Audio.

— Amanda Macias

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