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.
The second debate began with inquiries regarding the United Auto Workers strike, the imminent government shutdown, and immigration. Most candidates directed their criticism towards President Biden and Washington politicians, refraining from targeting each other directly.
Former President Donald Trump, who maintains a clear lead in the Republican primary race, chose not to participate in the debate and instead delivered a speech in Detroit.
The first GOP debate in August had witnessed fiery clashes among the candidates but had not significantly altered the overall dynamics of the race. No candidate had managed to challenge Trump’s dominant position in the GOP primary polls.
According to a CBS News poll released on Tuesday, Trump comfortably leads the Republican primary field in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to hold contests. His current lead would translate to winning approximately half of Iowa’s delegates and the majority in New Hampshire.
The debate was broadcast on Fox Business, Univision, and Fox News from 9 to 11 p.m. ET and was available for streaming on Rumble. Stuart Varney from Fox Business, Dana Perino from Fox News, and Univision’s Ilia Calderón served as moderators for the event.
Some highlights of the debate are:
Vivek Ramaswamy calls to end birthright citizenship to illegal immigrants
During the second GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy proposed ending birthright citizenship for the children of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. He outlined his stance by advocating for the militarization of the southern border, discontinuing funding for sanctuary cities, and terminating foreign aid to Mexico and Central America to remove incentives for individuals to come to the U.S.
Ramaswamy acknowledged the support of his fellow candidates for measures such as strengthening the border, defunding sanctuary cities, and reducing foreign aid to countries in the region. However, he suggested taking a further step by advocating the removal of birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.
Ramaswamy argued that these children should not acquire citizenship because their parents had violated immigration laws. He referenced the 14th Amendment, which traditionally grants citizenship to most individuals born in the United States, but he contested its application in this context.
This proposal from Ramaswamy adds to the spectrum of immigration-related policy positions within the Republican field, highlighting a more restrictive approach to citizenship for children born to unauthorized immigrants.
Candidates clash in a sharp debate over US support for Ukraine
During a discussion that highlighted some of the most significant disagreements of the night, the candidates clashed over the continued U.S. support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing invasion—a contentious issue that has become a focal point in negotiations in Washington to prevent a government shutdown.
Governor Ron DeSantis argued that it is in the United States’ interest to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine.
Senator Tim Scott asserted that “degrading the Russian military” is in the national vital interest of the United States, both in the short term and the long term. He emphasized that an attack on NATO territory could ultimately lead to the involvement of American troops.
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy expressed the view that it’s time to “align with the American people” and cautioned against assuming that because Vladimir Putin is a dictator, Ukraine is inherently a positive entity.
Nikki Haley, who frequently clashed with Ramaswamy, interjected by stating that a victory for Russia would also benefit China. She criticized Ramaswamy, suggesting that he had a favorable view of Russia.
Former Vice President Mike Pence voiced his support for continued aid to Ukraine, emphasizing that “peace comes through strength.”
Former Governor Chris Christie contended that if any concessions were made to Russia regarding Ukraine, it could pave the way for similar actions against Poland.
This exchange revealed sharp divisions among the candidates regarding the United States’ stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and how best to handle the situation.
Christie says Biden is “doing nothing” to enforce immigration laws, says Trump has also “failed”
Chris Christie, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, expressed his view that the United States is not currently in a position to legalize the millions of immigrants living in the country without legal status.
When asked about former President Ronald Reagan’s decision in the 1980s to sign a law that granted legal status to several million undocumented immigrants and whether he would support a similar measure, Christie emphasized the need to focus on enforcing immigration laws. He pointed to the high number of illegal border crossings in the past two years and argued that the country’s immigration laws were being violated daily at the border.
Christie outlined his plan to deploy the National Guard to the U.S. southern border if he were elected president. He stressed that the United States should welcome immigrants who come to the country legally and follow the law, but those who enter illegally should be arrested and returned to their country of origin. He underlined the importance of establishing a law and order agenda in the country to address the issue effectively.
Furthermore, Christie criticized former President Donald Trump for his record on immigration, asserting that Trump had not fulfilled his promise to “build a wall” along the border. Christie claimed that Trump had only constructed 50 miles of wall and falsely stated that Mexico was expected to pay for it. In reality, there were approximately 400 miles of new border wall structures built between 2017 and 2021. Christie humorously suggested that Mexico might have been more willing to pay for the wall if they had known it was only going to be 52 miles.
DeSantis says Trump is “missing” because he skipped the debate
After a series of questions focused on the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, the debate moderators shifted the discussion to the looming threat of a government shutdown. In this context, Governor Ron DeSantis made a bold statement by criticizing former President Donald Trump for his absence from the debate.
DeSantis asserted, “Donald Trump is conspicuously absent,” in response to a question about whether populist Republicans bore responsibility for the potential government shutdown. He emphasized that Trump should have been on the debate stage that evening, emphasizing that he owed it to the audience to defend his record.
DeSantis further criticized Trump for contributing over $7 trillion to the national debt during his presidency, a point that former Governor Chris Christie also highlighted.
Christie voiced his criticism, stating, “Donald Trump is sheltering within the confines of his golf clubs, avoiding the opportunity to answer questions.” He emphasized that Trump had accumulated $7 trillion in debt and should have been present in the debate room to address these concerns.
Christie’s viewpoint was that “everyone” in Washington, D.C., bore responsibility for the potential government shutdown, reflecting a broader sentiment that all elected officials shared responsibility for the situation.