A Very Messy Second Republican Debate

By Kylie Richardson

Here we go again! The second GOP debate went live on September 27, 2023. This time the stage was without Asa Hutchinson after he failed to qualify for round two leaving seven candidates to debate this go around. Yet again, former president Donald Trump was nowhere to be seen at the debate. Regardless of Trump’s presence, he still holds his leading position in the Republican party, so it’s possible the debate is an opportunity for an upcoming “first runner-up” to emerge. But, without further ado, let’s jump into a few of the #messiest moments of this year’s second GOP debate. 

The main aspect of the debate that I noticed was the uncontrollable and unruly atmosphere. Of course, debates get intense, especially when they’re as significant and widely viewed as the Republican Presidential Candidate debate. These candidates are trying to win the vote of hundreds of millions of Americans in only two hours of screen time; it’s inevitable that candidates will be passionate. What isn’t appropriate is immaturity among the candidates. At times, the three moderators struggled to control the candidates as they shouted over one another. It was very frustrating to watch, trying to understand the candidates, but the moderators could not get them under control. Seeing Nikki Hayley and Ron DeSantis, the next two highest polling candidates after Trump, avoid the chaos towards the beginning shows a sense of maturity and understanding of where they’re standing. The highest polling being Trump was absent, the next two highest polling candidates were less willing to enter the unruly debate at the beginning, and the rest were almost fighting like animals to be seen and heard. This is most likely because they know they aren’t as high up in the rankings, so they have to be a standing-out presence on the floor. This was surely a messy debate, though it can be interesting to see when it gets heated, there comes a time when presidential candidates need to collect themselves, act with maturity, and be respectful of one another. 

The next takeaway was the attacks on candidate Donald Trump, more specifically how heated Chris Christie got over the former president. Though, I found it interesting how Trump’s indictment was blatantly avoided. No one seemed to want to delve into Trump’s controversial situations including his four indictments and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Instead, Trump was under fire for the debt he racked up while in office. I’m not sure if I’m the only one that noticed, but I felt like former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was jumping all over Trump. He even went on to state, “‘Donald Trump − he hides behind the walls of his golf clubs, and won’t show up here to answer questions like all the rest of us are up here to answer,’…‘Donald, I know you’re watching. You can’t help yourself,” Christie later added, looking directly into the camera. He said that if the former president continues to skip debates, ‘no one up here is going to call you Donald Trump anymore. We’re gonna call you Donald Duck.’ (USA Today). The Governor also concluded that he’d “vote Donald Trump off the island right now” after being asked who each of the candidates would dump from the hypothetical “island”. I mean, that’s pretty interesting. Following the debate, Chris Christie even went to Twitter, or X, tagging Donald Trump in a post of a “Donald Duck” gif. Many of the other candidates pointed out Trump’s absence as well, but Christie’s shots that night were unmatched. 

Finally, I’d like to conclude with the pile-up on entrepreneur and candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Ramaswamy had a rocky first debate. He was frequently criticized for his arrogance, his lack of experience, and his overly confident demeanor. The former governor of South Carolina Nikki Hayley has emerged as one of the most well-spoken and calm candidates up for the Republican vote, but even she had her moments with Ramaswamy stating that “every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber for what you say.” That’s got to hurt. Ramaswamy was taking hits left and right in this debate. Senator Tim Scott even accused Ramaswamy of being tied to the Chinese Communist Party and money going to Hunter Biden, politician and son of President Joe Biden. Former Vice President Mike Pence also jabbed at Ramaswamy for his business ties to China. Chris Christie hopped on board, slamming Ramaswamy for his so-called “naive” viewpoint on the Russia and Ukraine dispute. Ramaswamy defended the Russian seizure of the eastern half of Ukraine, but this did not put him on any of the candidates’ good sides. Ramaswamy even goes on to claim that Ukraine is not good just because Putin is evil. It’s evident that Vivek Ramaswamy has been a villain of this year’s Republican candidate lineup, frequently opposing his counterparts. It’ll be very interesting to see what’s in store for him. 

This year’s second GOP debate could be the cover of #messytok. Though occasionally frustrating, this was an interesting debate, and I highly recommend watching the two-hour-long video on YouTube if you haven’t already. These debates give us viewers great insight into how the presidential candidates handle themselves and what their alleged plans are given they win the presidency. These candidates will make for an extraordinarily fascinating primary election.


Hi!! My name is Kylie and I’ve been a magazine/blog writer for WIP for over a year. I am currently a high school student in the Law and Public Service Program at my school where I discovered my passion for politics and social involvement. I have found a love for writing and I aspire to explore a career in politics and law, especially social justice including equality and environmental advocacy, thus driving me to apply for a position at the empowering organization that is Women In Politics.