Donald Trump’s commanding lead in the polls left the latest GOP debate feeling like a meaningless undercard fight. Trump has a 40-plus-point lead against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has lost at least half of his support since April. Trump was the obvious winner even though he was noticeably absent.
The debates have all the meaning this time around of a high-school debate. No one stands a chance of defeating Trump, despite his 91 criminal charges and numerous lawsuits.
DeSantis’ slide and inability to recover make Trump’s lock on the GOP nomination almost inevitable. Trump also has managed to work with state party organizations to make his coronation an almost foregone conclusion.
Republican Contenders Blame Trump for Losses
Republican angst with Trump was on display at the debate. All noted that the Republican Party has lost every major election since 2018. Trump’s personality energizes Democrats like few others. He has stood like a cloud over the party, they argued. By contrast, between 2010 and 2016 Republicans dominated in elections.
Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy called the GOP a “party of losers.”
DeSantis agreed, blaming Trump for the losses.
“Republicans were gonna get tired of winning”, DeSantis said of the GOP’s performance in Tuesday’s election while mocking Trump’s 2016 slogan. “Well, we saw last night – I’m sick of Republicans losing. I will be a nominee that can win the election.”
Virginia’s GOP lost control of the state House of Representatives to the Democrats and failed to gain the ground that the state’s Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who pulled off a surprise win in 2021, had hoped for.
In Ohio, Republicans lost as the state’s voters enshrined abortion rights into the state constitution.
Haley Defends Candidacy
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley defended her decision to run after telling Trump she would not run against him.
“Yes, I said I wouldn’t run against him, but it was before we had the fall in Afghanistan before we saw inflation go through the roof. It was before we lost the mid-terms…We cannot win the issues and fights of the 21st century if we continue to use politicians of the 20th century,” Haley said.
DeSantis and Haley are in a fight for second place. Both tried to distinguish themselves from Trump and were critical of his policy failures.
“Now, if you look where we are now, it’s a lot different than where we were in 2016, and Donald Trump’s a lot different guy than he was in 2016,” DeSantis told the audience. “He owes it to you to be on this stage and explain why he should get another chance. He should explain why he didn’t have Mexico pay for the border wall,” he continued. “He should explain why he racked up so much debt. He should explain why he didn’t drain the swamp.”
Haley also slammed Trump for his fiscal irresponsibility as president, caused by his decision to sideline deficit hawks including former Speaker Paul Ryan in order to work with Democrats.
“I can tell you that I think he was the right president at the right time. I don’t think he’s the right president now. I think that he put us $8 trillion in debt, and our kids are never going to forgive us for that,” Haley said. “I think the fact that he used to be right on Ukraine and foreign issues, now he’s getting weak in the knees and trying to be friendly again. I think that we’ve got to go back to the fact that we can’t live in the past.”
Ramaswamy once again sparred with Haley by comparing her with former Vice President Dick Cheney.
“Do you want a leader from a different generation who’s going to put this country first, or do you want Dick Cheney in three-inch heels? In this case, we’ve got two of them on stage now,” Ramaswamy said.
Haley punched back at Ramaswamy’s politics.
“I am telling you, Putin and President Xi are salivating at the thought that someone like that could become president,” Haley said.
The debates have become a sideshow, and only Trump has come out on top.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.