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Republicans Clash at First Debate Without Trump

Eight Republican presidential primary candidates engaged in a heated debate on Wednesday night, marking their first debate without former President Donald Trump, who chose to skip the event.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took aim at tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy over his lack of experience, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted his record running the state and criticized the Trump administration’s handling of lockdowns and mandates during the Covid pandemic.

DeSantis specifically mentioned that the federal government’s decision to lock down the economy was a mistake and should not have happened.

The debate took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a crucial battleground state hosting the GOP national convention next year. Meanwhile, Trump opted for a recorded interview with Tucker Carlson, where he criticized his GOP rivals and expressed concerns about possible election theft in 2024.

In the interview, Trump referred to DeSantis as a “lost cause” and implied that Christie didn’t secure a job in the Trump administration due to a lack of trustworthiness.

Ramaswamy presented himself as an independent candidate who is not influenced by financial interests. He outlined his agenda to revive the economy through energy production and reducing spending and regulations. Christie, however, compared Ramaswamy to Barack Obama when he ran for president with limited experience in 2007, calling him an “amateur.”

The absence of Trump overshadowed the debate, as he leads the GOP primary polls by a significant margin. The candidates focused on various issues such as the economy, U.S. involvement in Ukraine, and the legal challenges faced by the former president, who is currently facing 91 criminal charges in four separate cases.

DeSantis and Ramaswamy, the leading second-tier contenders, shared the center stage. Other participants included Pence, Christie, Sen. Tim Scott, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, Gov. Doug Burgum, and former Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

While Trump maintains a strong position, certain polls indicate that some Republicans are open to an alternative candidate but remain undecided.

In conclusion, the first Republican debate without Trump showcased intense clashes between the candidates. The absence of the former president allowed for a focus on their individual positions and policies. As the race continues, it will be interesting to see how these contenders gain traction and potentially challenge Trump’s frontrunner status.

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