The second 2024 Republican presidential debate is unfolding at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. The leading candidate in the field, Donald Trump, has chosen to skip this event, much like the first debate. Instead, he will be in Michigan, 2,000 miles away, attempting to garner support from union workers amidst an ongoing labor strike.

The candidates on the stage include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

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Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy took the lead in terms of speaking time during the debate, with over 12 minutes of airtime. The debate was marked by candidates vying for opportunities to distinguish themselves, resulting in frequent interruptions and candidates talking over each other. On the other hand, Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota had the least amount of time to convey his message, speaking for just under eight minutes.

During the GOP debate, the Republican candidates took aim at President Joe Biden, with various candidates criticizing his actions and policies. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott suggested that President Biden should have been at the southern border instead of joining striking auto workers in Michigan. Former Vice President Mike Pence quipped that Biden should be “on the unemployment line,” while North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum accused Biden of interfering with free markets.

While some of Trump’s rivals did take a few shots at him, Trump largely escaped significant scrutiny regarding his four years in the Oval Office. Many of the candidates on stage were cautious about directly challenging Trump, as they sought to court voters who generally had positive views of his presidency. There were moments of contention during the debate, with candidates attempting to distinguish themselves and occasionally talking over each other.

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Early in the debate, Tim Scott criticized tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, highlighting his business ties to the Chinese Communist Party and funding related to Hunter Biden. Ramaswamy defended his business record in response to Scott’s comments, but the exchange became heated.

Former Vice President Mike Pence also took a swipe at Ramaswamy, mentioning his business dealings in China. Additionally, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley expressed her distrust of Ramaswamy and criticized his statements, stating, “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber from what you say.” This led to a contentious exchange, with candidates talking over each other as they tried to make their points.

Overall, the debate featured moments of tension as candidates attempted to make their voices heard and distinguish themselves from their rivals while also taking aim at President Biden’s administration.