Amber Athey

The winners and losers of the first Republican primary debate

Republican presidential candidates at the first Republican primary debate (Credit: Getty images)

The first Republican primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin wrapped in the early hours of this morning. Here is the definitive list of the evening’s winners and losers.


Vivek Ramaswamy

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is the only candidate on the stage who spoke to an issue larger than partisan politics: a lack of American identity and purpose. He accurately pinpointed the undercurrent of malaise in the country. Ramaswamy also was the first to raise his hand unapologetically when asked if he would stop sending money to Ukraine and if he would support former president Donald Trump as the nominee even if he were convicted in one of his pending legal cases. In his early moments he came off a bit arrogant, but that wore off as he settled in and set himself apart from the field.

Doug Burgum

The governor of North Dakota would be a winner just for showing up, considering he tore his achilles tendon playing basketball on Tuesday (as first reported by The Spectator’s world edition). But he gets bonus points too for actually performing quite well. Burgum was humble and charming and surprised everyone when he took his first question about Bidenomics and used it to intelligently tie economic decline and energy offshoring to national security. His best and strongest moment was when he called for bringing small-town values – the idea of helping out your neighbours and relying on transparency and accountability – to the White House.

Governor Ron DeSantis

I don’t think DeSantis performed exceptionally well and he definitely got overshadowed by the ‘skinny guy with the funny last name’ to his left. However, given the recent struggles of the DeSantis campaign and multiple revamps, a bad debate performance last night likely would have killed him. The bar was set pretty low – and since he managed to stay disciplined and get his points across without becoming the field’s punching bag, DeSantis gets a win.

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