Republican Debate 2023: Who Were the Winners and Losers?

Republican Debate 2023: Who Were the Winners and Losers? Four takeaways from the first 2024 Republican presidential debate.

First Republican debate: Know candidates, day, time, place, how to watch. Top Republican contenders meet for first primary debate. Republican debate recap: Christie, Pence and Haley pile on Ramaswamy.

Republican Debate 2023: First Republican debate

In a lively and spirited showdown, the first Republican presidential debate unfolded, with eight candidates engaging in intense exchanges. Despite initial concerns that it might lack the charisma of Donald Trump, the ultimate showman, the debate proved to be anything but dull.

The candidates who gathered in Wisconsin demonstrated their ability to generate excitement without his presence.

However, within this dynamic atmosphere, some candidates shone, while others appeared to fade into the background. Here, we break down the winners and losers of the evening.

Republican Debate 2023: Winners

Vivek Ramaswamy: A Political Novice Who Stole the Show

Vivek Ramaswamy, a political outsider who has never held public office and refrained from voting for a president from 2004 to 2020, emerged as a dominant force in this Republican debate. With a wide smile and quick wit, he seemed to be the only candidate on stage genuinely enjoying himself.

Republican Debate 2023
Republican Debate 2023

Ramaswamy’s status as a political novice playing with “house money” allowed him to deflect swipes from fellow candidates effectively.

His bold statements, such as being the “only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” generated shockwaves among his rivals.

He positioned himself as an outsider against a backdrop of political establishment insiders, advocating unconventional policies that, while outside the Republican mainstream, attracted significant attention – a tactic reminiscent of Trump’s 2016 campaign.

While Ramaswamy may not have the political capital to challenge Trump for the nomination, his compelling performance ensures his continued influence in the upcoming race.

Mike Pence: A Seasoned Politician’s Resurgence

Mike Pence, a veteran politician with experience as a congressman, governor, and vice-president, displayed a renewed fighting spirit.

Despite a struggling presidential campaign, marked by division among Trump supporters and distrust from Trump critics, Pence’s debate experience shone through.

He launched early attacks, criticizing Ramaswamy’s inexperience and emphasizing that “now is not the time for on-the-job training.” Pence also delivered a passionate, religion-based call for nationwide abortion limits, a stance that might not resonate in the general election but could sway evangelical Republicans in critical states like Iowa and South Carolina.

During the debate’s second half, Pence had the last word on Trump, asserting that he put the Constitution first when he refused to overturn the 2020 election results at Trump’s request. His performance showcased his potential presidential qualities, despite existing campaign challenges.

Nikki Haley: A Surprising and Strong Contender

Nikki Haley, the former US ambassador to the UN, has a history of defying expectations, consistently winning elections, even when challenging more established Republican candidates.

During this debate, she stood out by offering early, sharp criticism of both Trump and the Republican Party’s fiscal policies.

Haley bluntly pointed out that Republicans were responsible for the massive US budget deficit, calling for a halt to spending and borrowing.

When discussing the former president, she boldly labeled Trump as the “most disliked politician in America” and warned that the Republican Party would suffer due to this unpopularity in the general election.

Haley’s tenacity was evident as she sparred with Ramaswamy over continuing US aid to Ukraine and clashed with Pence regarding abortion. Even if she doesn’t surge ahead in the current race, her strong debate performance could position her for future presidential bids in non-Trump-dominated election years.

Republican Debate 2023: Middle of the Pack

Tim Scott and Chris Christie: Fiery Exchanges and Nice-Guy Attitude

Chris Christie delivered exactly what was expected of him – sharp critiques of Trump, witty jabs at Ramaswamy, and an overall feisty demeanor. However, he faced boos from the audience when criticizing Trump and Ramaswamy.

Tim Scott, on the other hand, maintained a more amiable disposition during heated debate moments. While this approach might not win over many voters, it could enhance Scott’s credentials if he aims to become Trump’s vice-presidential pick.

Republican Debate 2023: Losers

Ron DeSantis: Fading Star

At the start of the year, the race for the Republican nomination appeared to be a showdown between Ron DeSantis and Trump. However, DeSantis has seen a decline in the polls since then. This debate did little to reverse his fortunes.

While his performance was not disastrous, he remained on the sidelines during key moments of the debate, overshadowed by Ramaswamy and other candidates.

His stance on issues like military service and government policies to address the opioid epidemic had moments of strength, but he faltered on topics related to Trump and recent indictments.

DeSantis needed a standout performance to close the gap with Trump, but he remained a non-factor on this night.

Asa Hutchinson and Doug Burgum: Struggling to Make an Impact

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum had a lot to prove in this debate.

Hutchinson’s criticisms of Trump paled in comparison to Christie’s more direct attacks, and Burgum’s small-state conservatism failed to stand out. With qualification standards becoming more stringent for the next primary debate, neither candidate did enough to garner the support needed for another appearance on the debate stage.

In conclusion, the first Republican presidential debate of this election cycle showcased a diverse range of candidates with varying degrees of success.

Some, like Ramaswamy, Pence, and Haley, emerged as strong contenders, while others, including DeSantis, Hutchinson, and Burgum, struggled to leave a lasting impression. As the race unfolds, the dynamics are sure to shift, but this debate provided valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the Republican field.

FAQs: Republican Debate 2023

Who is Vivek Ramaswamy, and why did he stand out in the debate?

Vivek Ramaswamy is a political novice who has never held public office and garnered attention for his outsider status and bold policy proposals.

What key moments defined Mike Pence’s debate performance?

Mike Pence launched early attacks on his opponents and delivered a passionate call for nationwide abortion limits.

Why is Nikki Haley considered a strong contender despite not leading in the current race?

Nikki Haley’s debate performance showcased her tenacity and ability to defy expectations, positioning her for future presidential bids.

How did Tim Scott and Chris Christie fare in the debate?

Chris Christie engaged in fiery exchanges, while Tim Scott maintained a more amiable attitude, potentially enhancing his vice-presidential credentials.

What challenges did Ron DeSantis face during the debate?

Ron DeSantis struggled to stand out and failed to reverse his declining poll numbers, making it a challenging night for his campaign.

Where is the Fox News debate?

The first Republican presidential primary debate of the 2024 election cycle will feature eight GOP candidates who met the Republican National Committee’s criteria to be on stage.

The debate hosted by Fox News is on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Where can I watch the debate tonight?

The face-off will be streamed at and on Fox Nation, which is Fox News Channel’s subscription streaming platform. The online streaming platform Rumble will also show the debate, as an official R.N.C. partner.

How can I watch the presidential debate on Fox?

The inaugural Republican debate for the 2024 presidential primary is scheduled for Wednesday, August 23rd, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

This event will be broadcast live from Milwaukee, exclusively on the Fox News Channel, and can also be streamed on, Fox Nation, and Rumble.

It promises to be a pivotal moment in the upcoming election cycle, setting the stage for the political drama that will unfold in the months to come.

Where can I write Fox News?

To email a news tip or correction, you can send a ticket at

You can also send news tips by tweeting them to the main Fox News account or posting them on Facebook.

Fox News is also interested in videos or photos of news happening in your area.

For more insights and updates on the Republican presidential race, stay tuned.