Analysis by Summer Lane | Photo: Alamy
Wednesday night’s first GOP presidential debate in Milwaukee gave a platform for potential Republican candidates to try and net a breakout moment with voters nationwide.
Unfortunately for those with presidential aspirations onstage, Republican frontrunner President Donald Trump reigned supreme on Wednesday without even participating in the debate.
At 8:55 pm ET, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson released an exclusive interview on X with President Donald Trump – just five minutes before Fox News was scheduled to begin airing primary debate coverage.
Carlson’s posting of his interview with the 45th president on X racked up tens of millions of views in minutes. By Thursday morning, the video had accrued more than 183 million views and counting.
The internet lit up with conversation and interest in the president’s in-depth interview with Carlson, which clocked in at just under 50 minutes. Trump discussed his Democrat opponent, Joe Biden, and answered questions on election integrity, the southern border, and the political and legal persecution he has faced since 2016.
On numbers alone, Trump’s interview soared far and away beyond the viewership of Fox News’ primary debate, which garnered just over 300,000 live continuous viewers on Rumble. It is not clear how many million people watched the debate live on Fox at this point, but it’s likely that it didn’t hold a candle to the viewership of Carlson’s interview with the president.
Wednesday night was, simply put, a massive triumph for Trump.
Another victor that emerged on Wednesday night was Vivek Ramaswamy, a businessman and bright young Republican presidential candidate. Ramaswamy was the only candidate onstage who repeatedly defended President Donald Trump during the debate, calling him “the best president of the 21st century.”
Ramaswamy was also the only Republican onstage on Wednesday who refused to commit to continue to fund the war in Eastern Europe between Ukraine and Russia. Ramaswamy additionally slammed former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for bashing Trump, remarking, “if people want to see a bunch of people blindly bashing Donald Trump without an iota of vision for this country, they can just change the channel to MSNBC.”
Ramaswamy was the clear breakout star in the wake of the debate, with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., failing to gain any real traction or seize a standout moment. Politico reported that DeSantis “faded into the crowd” on Wednesday and was “largely ignored for two hours by his lower-polling rivals.”
Frequent squabbling between former Vice President Mike Pence, Haley, and Christie also dominated the evening, giving ample opportunity for Ramaswamy to stand above the rest of the noise by offering policy takes that were heavily aligned with the America First movement.
There’s no doubt about it: Wednesday’s debate was dominated and won by President Donald Trump, while Vivek Ramaswamy proved that he has what it takes to be a serious contender for the vice presidency with Trump in 2024 or a 2025 Trump White House cabinet pick.