RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: After the American Presidential Debate: Assessing the Candidates and Predictions for the Future


On the Absence of Trump

The recent Republican primary debate in Milwaukee marked a significant event in American politics.

Donald J. Trump, the former President, chose not to participate, asserting his substantial lead in the polls and expressing his unwillingness to engage with certain fellow candidates whom he deemed unfit for the presidency.

Speculation arose regarding the individuals he might have been referring to, including lesser-known figures such as governors Doug Burgum and Asa Hutchinson, and senator Tim Scott, each polling below four percent.

The question also loomed whether his former allies, like Vice President Mike Pence, ex-New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, were among those he criticized.

The debate stage was notably absent of Trump’s presence, leaving the other candidates to contend with each other.


DeSantis Emerges as a Key Player

Among the candidates, Florida governor Ron DeSantis stood out prominently.

Once regarded as Trump’s protege, DeSantis faced accusations of disloyalty from Trump himself.

Despite this, DeSantis managed to maintain a strong position in the polls, particularly in Iowa, where he trails Trump by 23 points.

4DeSantis’ resolute handling of the COVID pandemic and his role in fostering economic growth in Florida has earned him recognition, even though he lacks the charisma of past Republican leaders.

DeSantis’ Performance and Policies

During the debate, DeSantis projected confidence and articulated his stance on various issues.


He pledged military intervention to secure the southern border and combat smuggling.

This resonated with his supporters and highlighted his determination to address a significant concern facing the nation, particularly with the ongoing immigration challenges.

These issues also mirrored concerns seen in Britain, where illegal channel crossings have exceeded 100,000.

The consistent attention to these matters helped DeSantis navigate the debate effectively.

Vivek Ramaswamy’s Emergence

A notable newcomer, Vivek Ramaswamy, drew attention with his energetic demeanor and unapologetic confidence.


A billionaire with an impressive background in biotech, Ramaswamy has made efforts to establish himself as a voice in media and politics.

His approach includes aligning with Trump’s domestic policies while advocating for a more restrained foreign policy approach.

Candidates’ Clashes and the Potential for Future Success

The debate stage witnessed intense exchanges between candidates.

Chris Christie, known for his tough demeanor, challenged Ramaswamy, accusing him of inexperience and likening his performance to “ChatGPT gibberish.”

Nikki Haley, the sole female candidate, quoted Margaret Thatcher and criticized Ramaswamy’s foreign policy positions.


Mike Pence, having redeemed his reputation following his tenure as Vice President, also participated, though questions remain about his future role.

Predictions for the Future

The debate allowed viewers to evaluate the candidates and their respective strategies.

Some, like Burgum, Hutchinson, and Scott, might consider reevaluating their campaigns.

Others, such as Christie, may remain for entertainment value and to offer alternative perspectives.

DeSantis’ strong showing demonstrated his viability as a candidate.


Both Haley and Ramaswamy appeared to vie for potential spots on a Trump ticket.

Assessing the Presidential Race

As the discussion shifted to broader implications, it became evident that any reputable Republican candidate could potentially outperform President Biden in the next election.

The President’s recent actions, including his response to wildfires and questionable statements, have raised concerns about his fitness for office.

Speculation surrounds whether Democrats might replace Biden with another candidate, especially if Trump’s legal challenges fail to deter his candidacy.

In Conclusion

The absence of Trump from the debate stage did not diminish his influence.


Trump’s legal troubles continued to make headlines, impacting the political landscape.

Despite this, his popularity surged whenever he faced legal challenges, presenting an intriguing dynamic in the lead-up to the election.

As candidates battled it out in Milwaukee, the ongoing impact of Trump’s presence and the evolving state of American politics remained central to the discussion.

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