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A brief look at the top names to make an appearance on the debate stage
Jadis Veal


The Second GOP Primary Debate

A brief look at the top names to make an appearance on stage


If you enjoy watching UFC cage fights with respectable amounts of sucker punches and bruising kicks, then the upcoming Republican presidential debate will probably satisfy your same thirst for blood. On September 27th in Simi Valley, California, at least six different candidates will take the floor of a loosely regulated war zone to talk about some of the U.S.’s most pressing issues. While all of the candidates share moderately similar views, they still manage to entertain the country with loud interruptions and outlandish ad hominems. 


The contenders for the nomination are Ron Desantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum. The top three candidates have been Ron, Vivek, and Pence, so these are the big names that will be discussed. All three of these people have managed to make a splash among Republican polls. Two of the three, Ron and Pence, have well-established names and the other, Vivek, is pretty much a newcomer. Each has a unique story and somewhat unique ideas for running the country. 


 If you’re looking to find out what the candidates’ policies are or are just genuinely interested in what all the bickering is about, then this quick overview should help clear some things up. So, up first is none other than the one and only fast-talking, thirty-eight-year-old to be on stage…


Vivek Ramaswamy


Vivek is a new arrival compared to the more well-seasoned politicians like Mike Pence and Ron DeSantis. However, this hasn’t stopped a good part of Republicans from siding with him because of his captivating energy and logical way of thinking. He’s never before held a political office, but would most likely be capable of doing so because of his education and work experience. He has a Juris Doctor degree from Yale and a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard. 


Vivek also happens to be a billionaire because of a pharmaceutical company he founded in 2014 called Roivant Sciences. As of now, he is generally ranked third in polling among the candidates. It’s notable how similar his policies are to Donald Trump’s. Vivek isn’t trying to hide it either; he openly, and even proudly admits it. He states, “We have some of our areas in difference, but they’re small. By and large, [Trump and I] are the two “America First” candidates in this race.”

“We have some of our areas in difference, but they’re small. By and large, [Trump and I] are the two “America First” candidates in this race.”

— Vivek Ramaswamy


Of course, there are a few minor differences, but he’s said multiple times that he aims to reinstate a lot of the things that Joe Biden changed when he got into office. Vivek claims that he would be a solid choice for Republican voters who want a quick change. 



Mike Pence


Everyone knows Mike Pence, the former Vice President to Donald Trump. Unfortunately for him, this familiarity isn’t doing much to help him in the race for nomination. Mike isn’t the most popular option among Republicans. Even though some voters consider him to be a feasible option for president, those same voters would never allow their ballot to bear his name. This is because Mike carries an extra weight that has really dragged him through the mud in the eyes of Republican voters: being enemies with Donald Trump.


A major split between Pence and the former President took place after the events of January 6th because of a disagreement about how the situation was being handled. Pence stated, “And [Trump’s] words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day.” Because Trump is by far the most popular candidate for 2024, Pence has taken a lot of hate for his stance.


As far as his policy goes, Pence favors large energy production and foreign trade deals. He seems to be very focused on revamping the economy. Just about every candidate is tough on crime, too. Pence has some notable promises about what he would enforce, but so does the next candidate, who has already shown the U.S. just how acute he would be towards crime as president.


Ron DeSantis


The current Governor of Florida, Ron Desantis has without a doubt been less forgiving towards drug traffickers and rapists in his state. This serves as a kind of preview into what a DeSantis presidency would look like. Like Pence, he has a background in politics, albeit his background is much shorter, having first held a political office in 2012 as a state representative.


He’s planning on a drill sergeant-type approach for America and is more than willing to make sure everyone is doing their job. During his presidential campaign announcement, he said, “Buckle up when I get in there, because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we reconstitutionalize the government.”

“Buckle up when I get in there, because the status quo is not acceptable, and we are going to make sure that we reconstitutionalize the government.”

— Ron DeSantis


Ron likes to make big claims just like any politician, but it seems from his record in Florida that he can deliver. He has led the state through many different tropical storms such as Hurricane Ian and Nicole and also helped contribute to higher economic growth. 


Interestingly, Ron’s wife, Casey DeSantis, has been an influential part of his campaign and one of the reasons for his high popularity. Whenever Ron gets up to make a speech at a campaigning event, Casey is likely to follow him up after he speaks for a few minutes or so. She has also seen favoritism in the Republican voting circle because of how relatable she is with many people who have similar experiences. She’s very open about her fight with breast cancer and also being a mom. Some people see her as a big asset for Ron and his campaign, while others view her as a hindrance. No matter anyone’s opinion, she has evidently assisted Ron in some kind of positive way for his publicity. 


All three of these top-polling candidates claim to be the best choice for the next president, but there can only be one who wins the nomination. By far in the lead is Donald Trump who is currently polling at a massive 55.3%. Trump wasn’t present for the first debate and won’t be for the next one either, but this is completely by choice. He’s essentially saying that he doesn’t need the publicity like he knows the other candidates do.


Trump is still firmly at the top, but this doesn’t mean that things can’t change, and this is exactly what DeSantis, Pence, and Ramaswamy are hoping for. They know that it might be a long shot, but even just being on stage in front of millions of people grows their political reputation. A loss in the overall election still equates to their name and their ideas for the country being put out.


No matter the outcome, the 2024 election is sure to be bound with controversy and disputes, just like any political squabble. For some, this means lots of days filled with frustration and headaches. Others, however, will take advantage of the free entertainment and probably make a bag of popcorn as they sit down to watch the debate.

About the Contributors
Asher Maney, Reporter
Jadis Veal, Illustrator
"Where's everyone going? Bingo?"- Leon Kennedy