Posts tagged with "Vivek Ramaswamy"

Fox News to air DeSantis vs. Newsom debate on November 30

November 28, 2023

They aren’t running against each other. Still, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will take their fiery feud to Fox News this week in a debate moderated by Sean Hannity—offering up a head-to-head that stretches the boundaries of traditional political programming, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After trading barbs in the media for more than a year over issues from COVID-era restrictions to immigration, DeSantis and Newsom are scheduled to face off for 90 minutes on Thursday, November 30, in Georgia.

In an interview with the Journal, Hannity—who came up with the idea—described Newsom and DeSantis as “two of the biggest, most interesting governors in the country and they have diametrically opposed political views, visions for how to run their states.”

Fox News and other cable networks air plenty of debates and town halls featuring candidates. Because Newsom and DeSantis aren’t running for the same job, the November 30 event is more akin to cable’s version of an Ultimate Fighting Championship bout for politicians—taking an interesting fight happening outside the core election race and putting a spotlight on it.

Just weeks ago, Vivek Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, debated Representative Ro Khanna (D- California) in New Hampshire. The debate covered topics including the economy, foreign affairs and climate change.

The two-person debate format comes in contrast with recent Republican primary debates, which featured a crowded field of candidates—but not the front-runner for the nomination, Donald Trump, who chose not to attend.

“Trump is very present by his absence in these debates,” said Jane Hall, a professor in the School of Communication at American University and the author of “Politics and the Media: Intersections and New Directions.”

DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, has struggled to portray himself as a viable alternative to former President Donald Trump and is seeing former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley gain traction. Recent polls in Iowa—the first state to vote in the nomination battle—have shown DeSantis slightly ahead of Haley for second place, both well behind Trump.

For Newsom, the debate offers a chance to further establish himself as a leader of the Democratic Party on a national stage and position himself as a legitimate contender for the presidency down the line.

“It’s a chance to get a lot of viewership,” Hall said. “There’s an entertainment value in seeing people go after each other.”

In July, Hannity, a mainstay of Fox News’s prime-time lineup and the ratings leader in his time slot, held a town hall with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is now running for president as an Independent. He also said he would be eager to have more Democrats on his show.

Joe Biden, he’s at the top of the list. Kamala Harris, number two; Barack Obama’s number three,” said Hannity, who hasn’t asked any of them recently to appear on his show. “The odds of that happening are zero, zero, and zero.”

Research contact: @WSJ

Winners and losers of the first GOP debate, according to ‘The Hill’

August 25, 2023

A stormy Republican clash in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, August 23, kicked off the 2024 presidential debate season—even if the biggest name wasn’t on the stage, reports The Hill.

Former President Trump’s decision not to participate in the Fox News debate at Fiserv Forum overshadowed the event and likely lowered its ratings, the political website opined.

Trump did not entirely cede the spotlight, though, The Hill sad: His conversation with Tucker Carlson went live on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, five minutes before the debate began.

Trump will be back center stage Thursday, when he surrenders to authorities in Georgia, facing his fourth criminal indictment.

The Milwaukee debate gave his rivals a rare opportunity to reach a huge audience without the former president directly intervening or interrupting.

Here are the candidates whom The Hill identifies as the winners and losers from the big night:

WINNERS

Former Vice President Mike Pence: Pence had struggled to qualify for the debate, taking a conspicuously long time to get over the required threshold of donors.

But he was the surprise winner on Wednesday night, with a number of forceful interventions, The Hill said.

He also got an unexpected assist in the shape of a question to all the candidates about his actions on January 6, 2021. Several rivals paid tribute, albeit with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to Pence’s actions certifying the result of the 2020 election and withstanding Trump’s pressure to overturn it.

At other moments, Pence’s fieriness—especially when directed at Vivek Ramaswamy—was the most startling element of the night. Early on, Pence took a clear swipe at the 38-year-old Ramaswamy, saying, “Now is not the time for on-the-job training. We don’t need to bring in a rookie.”

Pence was also effective in reminding anti-abortion voters of his long record on that topic, quoting Biblical scripture to back up his position.

Pence faces enormous challenges in the primary—not least, unfavorable numbers with GOP voters that are higher than almost any other candidate. But Wednesday was the best night of his campaign to date.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Christie got in the cleanest shot of the night, soon after Ramaswamy boasted that he was the only candidate on the stage “not bought and paid for.” An exasperated Christie jabbed back, “I’ve had enough already tonight of a guy who sounds like ChatGPT.”

With that line, Christie may have found the weak spot in Ramaswamy’s armor, just as he did when he attacked Florida Senator Marco Rubio in a similar debate almost eight years ago.

Christie also emphasized his differences with Trump, of course. He is the most aggressively anti-Trump candidate in the race—a fact which, by itself, almost certainly dooms him to defeat.

Speaking of Trump’s multiple indictments, Christie said that whether people believed the former president’s actions were criminal or not, “Someone has got to stop normalizing this conduct, OK?”

A huge swath of the GOP base will hate what Christie had to say. But in terms of debating skill, his was probably the most impressive performance on the stage.

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley

Perceptions of debates can often be determined by memorable moments. By that standard, Haley had a good night.

She staked out different ground than her rivals on abortion—expressing skepticism about a federal ban at an early stage of pregnancy and about the role of Supreme Court justices in deciding “something this personal.”

She starkly branded Trump “the most disliked politician in America” to make the argument that the GOP cannot win with him as its standard bearer.

ut her single biggest moment came in a blast at Ramaswamy over the entrepreneur’s deep skepticism about funding for Ukraine.

Referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin, she told Ramaswamy, “This guy is a murderer, and you are choosing a murderer over a pro-American country.”

When Ramaswamy tried to defend himself, Haley poured more pressure on: “You have no foreign policy experience — and it shows,” she told him.

MIXED

Vivek Ramaswamy

It seems near-certain that Ramaswamy is the candidate whose performance will most divide opinion.

According to a report by Fox News, Ramaswamy introduced himself as a “skinny guy with a funny last name” after receiving his first question from moderator Bret Baier in Milwaukee on Wednesday. The phrase echoed Obama’s own choice of words when he introduced himself to the country while delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.

“So, first let me just address a question that’s on everybody’s mind at home tonight Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of this debate stage?” Ramaswamy joked, echoing Obama almost word-for-word.

Despite that, it’s easy to see why his supporters could make the case that he shone, The Hill noted. He’s clearly different, he withstood some heavy verbal blows and he offers a candidacy uniquely in step with the sensibilities of a new, younger generation.

The degree to which Ramaswamy was targeted by other candidates is also a backhanded compliment to the threat he poses.

But the entrepreneur also seemed shallow at times, especially on Ukraine and in his craven promise to pardon Trump of any convictions if elected president.

There is also a question mark around his overall demeanor. The traits that his fans see as confidence and clarity can just as easily read as self-satisfaction and glibness.

Ramaswamy might get a polling boost simply from being able to introduce himself to such a large audience.

But his weaknesses were badly exposed as well.

LOSERS

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

DeSantis arrived in Milwaukee needing a big night. He didn’t get it. It wasn’t that the Florida governor made any obvious gaffes. But he didn’t have any great moments either and; more importantly, he didn’t impose himself on the debate at any point.

For long stretches, DeSantis faded into the background of the debate.That is a big problem, since his whole campaign is predicated on being the sole alternative to Trump.

DeSantis’s campaign has been trending downward since its beginning and there was no real reason to believe that Wednesday night’s performance, which often sounded over-rehearsed, changed that.

Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina)

The Republican field already has an identifiable second tier behind Trump, DeSantis, and the rising Ramaswamy. It comprises Pence, Haley, and Scott.

Scott had the least impressive night of the trio. The South Carolina senator is well-liked by many Republicans but his low-key affability isn’t ideal for contentious debate nights.

Scott tried to stay above the fray, at one point intervening in a Christie-Ramaswamy verbal tussle to insist: “Going back and forth being childish is not helpful to the American people.”

But for the most part, Scott simply lacked impact.

He was also eclipsed by Haley, which is dangerous for him. Given their similarities—including a shared, electorally crucial home-state—there likely isn’t enough room for both candidates to thrive in the long run.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson

It was always going to be a tough night for the two lowest-polling candidates, stuck on the farthest edges of the stage, reports The Hill. Neither got a breakout moment.

The greatest excitement relating to Burgum was whether he would make the stage at all, having suffered a basketball injury earlier in the day that required a hospital visit.

Hutchinson made his usual Trump criticisms— even saying that the 14th Amendment may bar the former president from running again, given its injunction against anyone holding office who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion.”

He was met with boos for those remarks.

Still, the biggest question Burgum and Hutchinson face is how to make themselves relevant. Neither found the answer Wednesday, contends The Hill.

 Research contact: @thehill

Republicans set presidential debate rules that could exclude some candidates

June  6, 2023

The Republican National Committee will require presidential candidates to attract 40,000 individual campaign donors and the support of at least 1% of voters in multiple national polls to qualify for the first 2024 presidential debate with Fox News in Milwaukee this August, according to four people briefed on the plans, reports The Washington Post.

The filter, which also requires candidates to pledge support for the party’s eventual nominee, is stricter than similar rules Democrats adopted to set their own first debate stage in 2019, when 20 candidates met over two nights. Democrats allowed candidates to qualify either by meeting a 65,000-donor threshold or by getting 1% in at least three early state or national polls.

Republicans, by contrast, will require both a donor and a polling standard. The polling standard requires a candidate to be at 1% nationally in multiple polls that are deemed credible by the RNC.

“Debates are not a vanity project but a critical opportunity to find the next President of the United States. If you can’t find 40,000 unique donors to give you a dollar and at least 1% of the primary electorate to support you, how can you expect to defeat Joe Biden?” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.

The rules could be challenging for the less-well-known candidates, including former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson and California talk radio host Larry Elder, who have not been listed by name in some national polls.

The RealClearPolitics average of national polls currently lists six candidates as polling above 1% in national surveys: former president Donald Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, former vice president Mike Pence, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Senator Tim Scott (South Carolina).

Other current or potential candidates, including New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie; as well as Elder and Hutchinson, average 1% or less.

Some candidates are concerned that the rules could sideline their campaigns at the starting gate. The first Republican debates of the 2016 campaign season included 17 candidates in two different events.

“It seems that the RNC is going out of its way to purposely narrow the field at one of the earliest times in the party’s history,” said a Republican consultant working for one of the presidential candidates who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. “And rather than finding a way for as many conservative voices to be heard by Republicans throughout the country, they are attempting to make this a two-man race.”

Republicans familiar with the process said they are seeking a standard that is not too high—but that also keeps the event from becoming a circus. The donor standard will rise for subsequent debates. RNC officials have argued that the national media, which has been covering the back-and-forth between Trump and DeSantis, is to blame for any impression that the nomination fight had become a two-person race.

Trump, as the polling leader, has suggested he may skip the early Republican debates. He has also said he will not pledge to support the eventual nominee no matter who the party selects. His team has been in negotiations with the party over debates, The Washington Post has reported.

Trump benefited from a large field of Republican competitors during the 2016 primaries, and he has recently praised some of his rivals, including Ramaswamy and Scott, as his campaign aides hope to keep opposition to his candidacy divided. DeSantis’s team, meanwhile, has made clear the Florida governor sees the race as a two-person contest.

Ramaswamy, a first-time candidate who has attracted support in early events, said his campaign already has the donors it needs to make the first debate stage. “We cruised past that a while ago. That’s in the rearview mirror,” he said during a recent interview.

Several more candidates, including Pence, Christie and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, are expected to formally join the Republican nomination race in coming weeks.

Burgum, a former businessman with significant wealth who is not well known outside his state, said he “absolutely” will be able to meet the donor threshold, despite his plans to self-fund a portion of his campaign. Asked whether he could clear the 1% polling threshold, he said, “Yes.”

“There is some idea that this is going to be a completely self-funded thing. That’s completely false,” Burgum said in a recent interview. “I’ll invest in myself because I believe in myself.”

Advisers to Christie, Hutchinson, Sununu and Elder either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The RNC also will require debate participants to sign data-sharing and fundraising agreements with the national party, and to pledge not to participate in any unsanctioned debates.

Research contact: @washingtonpost