On a night in Milwaukee, the American political show took place without its modern-day Mr. Punch, Donald J. Trump.
The former President opted to skip the initial Republican primary debate, asserting his lead in the polls and avoiding engagement with certain candidates he deemed unfit for the presidency.
Obscure figures like governors Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson, as well as Senator Tim Scott, were among those he might have been referencing.
It’s uncertain whether he included former supporters like Vice President Mike Pence, ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, or Nikki Haley, his former UN ambassador.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, once seen as Trump’s protege, now faces his criticism due to perceived disloyalty.
Despite a stumble in his presidential campaign launch, DeSantis now trails Trump, who holds a substantial lead in national and Iowa polls.
While not the ’50 or 60′ points Trump claimed, the gap between them stands at 42 to 19.
DeSantis’ reputation has suffered from a barrage of attacks by both a partisan Democrat mainstream media and Trump’s determination to reclaim the White House.
While lacking the charisma of some predecessors, DeSantis’ record in handling Covid and fostering economic growth has been impressive, allowing him to secure traditionally Democratic areas in Florida.
Both Trump and the Biden camp are wary of DeSantis, prompting campaigns to discredit him.
During the Milwaukee debate, DeSantis navigated attacks and focused on criticizing Biden while preserving his Trump-supporting fan base.
Despite the intense competition, DeSantis vowed to address immigration and cartel issues at the US-Mexico border.
Across the Atlantic, the UK is grappling with illegal Channel crossings, echoing concerns in the US where over six million migrants have entered unlawfully under Biden’s administration.
The debate’s absence of Trump allowed other candidates to vie for attention. A newcomer, Vivek Ramaswamy, drew attention with his youthful energy, self-assuredness, and unconventional tactics to stand out.
Ramaswamy, a billion-dollar biotech mogul, positioned himself as a Trump alternative on domestic matters without involving the US in foreign wars.
In a clash with Chris Christie, Ramaswamy was accused of delivering nonsensical statements akin to “ChatGPT gibberish.”
As the sole female candidate, Nikki Haley referenced Margaret Thatcher and criticized Ramaswamy’s foreign policy stance.
Mike Pence maintained a dignified presence, redeeming his image after his tenure as Trump’s Vice President.
In summary, the Milwaukee debate featured a range of Republican candidates, with DeSantis as a frontrunner, Haley and Ramaswamy potentially angling for vice presidential positions, and Pence upholding his reputation.
The debate highlighted the challenges and opportunities each candidate faces on their path to the presidency, all within the backdrop of Trump’s looming influence.