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The Second Republican Primary Debates, Ranked

The Second Republican Primary Debates, Ranked

The second Republican primary debate was a disaster, an absolute epic failure.

As someone who enjoys political discourse, I had been looking forward to seeing the debate and watching how all the candidates performed. The first debate was great, it was funny, entertaining, informative and certainly worth watching. Good TV, for whatever it was worth to anyone. The second debate, however, was like watching a slow motion train wreck while you’re still a passenger on board. That’s how it felt being an American watching the potential future leadership speak.

Within the first few moments of the debate, you could see that the whole show was about to fall apart. The debate moderators for Fox were Dana Perino, Stuart Varney and Ilia Calderon from Univision. While it was interesting seeing what a war hawk, a British guy and a journalist from Columbia would ask of the candidates, I don’t understand the choices here. Maybe it is obvious why, but also maybe obvious that these were not the best choices in the first place. The program began and Stuart Varney introduced the panel, immediately falling as he failed to pronunciate Calderon’s name and started to stutter. Just awkward. 

Everything after this moment was a downward spiral in its entirety. Childish arguing, interruptions, hollow answers, repetition, predictable questions, political chaos and intellectually numbing conversation. It would have been better if I had no expectations and would have been better still had I not watched it all. 

Still, I did, as did many other Americans who sat through the debate and experienced the same, judging by the comments left on X through the night. I’m not sure that I saw a single person share that watching the debate was a positive experience. With all of that said though, here are my thoughts on the performance of the individual candidates from the second Republican primary debate, ranked. 

7 – Mike Pence

Bad jokes, boring man. Any candidate dumb enough to make it a point of focus to tell voters not to fall for “the siren song of populism” obviously cares about party victory over people. While I agree with the sentiment of party victory here, party victory means nothing without we the people first. I do not trust Mike Pence. Loyalty is a big thing for me as a voter, and the way he has turned on Trump makes me feel like he’d be just as quick to turn on the people and his own promises too. He should just go home and sleep with that teacher he was talking about, hopefully his wife. Sorry Pence, but this job just ain’t for you. 

6 – Chris Christie

Sounds like a TV rerun of commercialized anti Trump rhetoric. Every time he spoke he had to loop back to the same old attacks to clarify the only true purpose of his position of claiming the clips necessary for mainstream media. Another rino well fed with funding to play the part. I do not see this man as a leader whatsoever, but I do also appreciate his additional emphasis on law and order. I support his view on artificial intelligence and not being afraid of innovation here in America. I would have appreciated it if every candidate was allowed the time to share their own views on the subject, not only him, but so it goes in the modern debate framework. Finally, the calling Trump Donald Duck joke was lame and fell empty. This guy’s not serious. 

5 – Tim Scott

I’ve always liked Tim Scott, but frankly I do not see him as the next president. I enjoy his focus on restoring the American family and his support for the idea of capitalism. I enjoy seeing him stand up and speak for the idea that America is not a racist country. I enjoy his work as a politician and as an individual human. I don’t like his insistence on supporting Ukraine, but that’s the only main fault I have with his views. From a leadership perspective though, I just do not see that he has the communication skills or the will power that is necessary to handle all of the issues that we currently face. I will say that Tim Scott calling out Vivek Ramaswamy on former business connections with China and the same people that worked with Hunter Biden was one of the few big moments of the entire debate. 

4 – Ron DeSantis

After 2020 covid, I myself moved to Florida from Texas because I liked how Florida was being run and wanted to work there. Ron DeSantis was one of my favorite politicians for a while, and I’m not sure exactly how he fell so hard so fast. Again, back to the idea of loyalty, I feel that his turning on Trump made voters feel like he’d do the same to them and his own policies. Like Pence. I do think he did a mostly great job running things in Florida. I do think his record on school performance there is great and something certainly worth keeping in mind. I think his views on how to protect the border and ending the war in Ukraine are also worth supporting. But, like Tim Scott, the more I see DeSantis speak in public the more I feel like he just doesn’t have the leadership skills to get the job done either. Sometimes he does a good job in public, and sometimes he just absolutely falls apart. Even his facial expressions, which may or may not be a sorry thing to judge here, but his facial expressions during the debate were consistently off. Every time the camera cut to him he had a strange sad clown like frown that he held until it was time for him to speak. Weird. Not only that, but in the opening segment of the debates Fox showed all the candidates being “cool” walking in slow motion or standing with a serious expression on their face. Everyone, even Chris Christie, cut the fake TV cool vibe on check, except for Ron DeSantis. He couldn’t even just be cool for the introduction scene. Finally, Joe Biden supporting him by sharing clips of him speaking at the debate may have ended his hopes for presidency and potentially even his future career. 

3 – Nikki Haley

I do not like Nikki Haley. I feel like she is the most likely candidate to get us into a massively destructive war for a myriad of reasons. Simply put, she just sounds almost dangerously hungry for it, but I suppose maybe that is just what happens when you spend time in the modern UN sphere. She also just seems like the Republican version of Hilary Clinton which is in itself a gross thought. With all that said, I have to give credit where credit is due. She did a good job at the debate tonight, probably standing out better than anyone else just in terms of the debate itself. I agree with her views on medical transparency, school transparency and the elimination of DEI & CRT from our institutions. I even appreciated her attack on Vivek Ramaswamy about getting on Tik Tok. While I do agree we should be seeking out young voters, and I do believe Vivek is doing a good job at that, I also feel like Nikki Haley is right in her assessment that Vivek using TIk Tok is a bad move. Personally, liking but still not trusting Vivek yet, I did not at all like seeing him hopping over to be on Tik Tok doing a dumb dance. Nikki Haley hates Tik Tok and you can see that she is passionately against China. I can appreciate that, considering. Her biggest issue to common voters will be that she seems rude and abrasive. People say the same about Trump though, so I’ll remain open to see what she does in the future.

2 – Doug Burgum

This guy isn’t going anywhere here, but I still like him. I didn’t even know who he was before he began running for president, but looking at his record and listening to him speak I feel that the man has done a good job with his life. Maybe a bit country goofy, but certainly has some good leadership qualities as a businessman and job creator. He believes in less government, more guns, common sense and America first. Sounds good to me. Great job tonight Doug, for whatever it’s worth. Too bad you got the least amount of time to speak, but the consistent attempts at interrupting others to force your voice wasn’t the best look either. Regardless, I hope he keeps a good future in front of him moving forward. No matter what happens. 

1 – Vivek Ramaswamy

I really like Vivek, but I still do not trust him. Seeing how I’m still giving him the top spot of the debate performance, this should say a lot about how I feel about all of the candidates available. My concern of Vivek is that his performance is just that, a performance. Like all the other candidates, who, as a voter, I do not really trust either, it feels like all of the candidates are mostly just saying what they believe needs to be said from their position. I feel a lack of true authenticity across the board, and find myself wondering if all these politicians are merely just actors on the stage playing a part. I do love many of the things Vivek has to say. His idea for victory over victimhood is essential. His ability to clearly speak out his vision for embracing the idea of American exceptionalism and seeing capitalism as the best economic system known to man is great. I think his ideas for immigration enforcement and ending birthright citizenship are great. I enjoyed seeing him continue to say that all the people on stage were good people, even after they all turned on him as the collective focus of their evening attacks. I agree with protecting parents rights and the necessity of the Republican party to reach out to new and young voters. What I don’t like is the past business connections with China. I don’t like the Hunter Biden connection. I don’t like some of the things that happened with his past companies. People can change though, and as the young man that he is he certainly still has room to grow and learn. I believe he is, at least seemingly so, passionate enough about the American dream to get the job done of restoring American greatness and establishing a future worth getting excited about if he was president. That is, if he is not just another actor. 

Moving forward, pay attention and keep an open mind with everyone.  

So that’s all I have to say on my ranking of the candidates from the night. It is worth noting that immediately after the debate that Fox News and Hannity thought it would be a great idea to top it all off by having Gavin Newsome show up and talk. Why the hell this was allowed to happen at a GOP debate blows my mind. 

I guess it’s all just for the drama. 

We have serious problems to face here in America and Fox has failed. 

There is no time for meaningless drama. 

Two who were formerly fired by Fox, Tucker Carlson and Bill O Reilly, both teamed up against the time slot for the debate on Fox for a great interview. A great move seeing them both give Fox the finger by airing during the debate time. Not only that, but, as you all know, Donald Trump skipped the second debate to air his own rally for auto workers in Michigan. He gave a great speech that was another good move on his part for the night, also giving Fox the finger. They all did a great job while the debate was a failure, and all of America can see it regardless of the position they take on the matter of who should be the next president. 

So who actually won the second Republican primary debate?

Donald Trump. 

About The Author

Jacob Machine

9 albums, 3 books & 2 movies. Come check out my new daily show on X @ jacobmachine3 Enjoy your weekend!


  1. JoeyP

    Well . . . Trump was right – AGAIN.

    • Frank stetson

      As he loses his businesses and his home for fraud, again. ,

    • Josette Folger

      I forgot the most important thing. YES, TRUMP WINS AGAIN!!!!!

  2. Josette Folger

    I agree with the assessment you made of the candidates. I would emphasize that I do NOT like Nikki Haley and never see her being president and although I like Vivek, there is just something I do NOT trust about him. It is the same pre 2008 election vibe that I got from obama. I do like Burgum and what he says, maybe in 2028. I like Scott and mostly what he stands for but do not see him as being president. I used to like De Santis but his disloyalty to Trump is a sticking point, as is his connection to getting funding from Soros and the Establishment. Both De Santis and Haley had previously said that if President Trump ran, they would not – they both went back on their word and that really bothers me. Pence and Christie are wasting their time and ours.
    Thanks for you read of the 2nd debate. And I will say that I’d vote for any of these people, maybe holding my nose, over any democrat who is ruining our nation.

  3. Darren

    Trump will not be needing a home when he moves into the White House, for the next 12 years.

  4. Dewayne Cargill

    Without a Lee Atwater type back at the RNC we are doomed. The Republican party is a boat at sea without a motor or rudder. The Democrats are idealogical, vicious, evil, and totally corrupt determined to hold power forever. Democrats don’t care about the destruction they are bringing to the country.

  5. frank stetson

    I liked Machine-Head’s piece, with one difference: Joe Biden won the night…. guess when it’s pure opinion…

    Funny you looked forward to it, I figured it’s like a second coat of paint. Same color as the first and when you are done, no change. Trump still wins the nomination, he said none of them is VP material, why even turn on the tube?
    That said, I watched some…. What I wondered most of all: what reality are we in?

    Did you ever expect to see Republicans, who wanted English as the forma US language, Constitutionally, and have railed against bilingual, to kick off with a Spanish monolog? From a Spanish moderator foreshadowing who will be asking the border questions?

    Or the “made in America or bust” party who have one moderator a Brit, the other a spi…. Latino. The American accent was a moderator minority…..

    And then the moderators totally lost control, all night long…. (or at least till I turned to MSNBC :>)

    No wonder Republicans loved Reagan; he could tell a good joke and the current breed defines not funny, quick, or witty.

    My rankings:
    1. Halley: best line for the night and she is dumber… But best numbers, grasp of subject. But yeah, shrill, clenched teeth, and somewhat angry, probably at being there for no reason
    2. Vivek: I don’t know what he is saying, what he is selling, but he’s NJ fast talking gobbley gookster that sounds nice, if I only knew what he meant, but he must be great, in his own mind.
    3. Christie: Yeah, there’s some NJ pride in that although not a fan. But here he was the one who said it closer than anyone. Dudes — the worse thing you could come up with for Trump was he wasn’t there? Boo hoo, you got nothing more? At least Chris had more, made Machine flinch, had great AI answer, and tied with Pence for flattest scripted joke of the night (it’s about timing guys…)
    4. DeSantis: Just that he didn’t lose, which is not saying much. And what was that weird crooked tip-lipped smile to close his rants? Somebody told him too but he didn’t practice. Looked like Big Bang’s Stewart’s “I’m in love” smile. He’s creepy.
    5. Scott: guy is running for VP and losing… Gotta love a black man telling black men how they are stupid and please vote for me. Must think it will make the crackers go for him, right…
    6. Burgham: who? What state? What?

    Machine-Head closes with “Moving forward, pay attention and keep an open mind with everyone.” Why? Unless Trump drops due to legal issues or being in jail, why waste more time with the meaningless? As for Newsome, just surreal. serious problems to face here in America and Fox has failed. As for Carlson and O’Reilly – who? As for Trump in Detroit: surreal again. I know, who cares. At least my post is short.

  6. John Williamson

    I hated the way Haley and Scott insistently spoke over Vivek. Stupid. Childish. I think their attacks were orchestrated by the RNC to bring Vivek down a notch. Haley came across as a harridan. (At least she is self-aware… she is getting dumber.) Scott looked like he was running for student body president. No thanks.

    Mike Pence has bottled ChatGOP… the AI version of a Republican candidate. Ugh!

    Ron Desantis is governing with a supermajority in the Florida Legislature. The Florida Legislature has queued up issues for him not necessarily requiring any leadership on his part. Not sure how he’ll manage in a divided government he’s likely to face in Washington.

    True, Vivek lacks experience. JFK was also young (not as young as Vivek) but he was also a combat veteran from a highly political family. However, Vivek has actually identified the fundamental issue of an ungovernable administrative state. Trump was unable to overcome it and did not understand how the US Government (in all its layers of bureaucracy) was actively governing against him.

    Vivek will not win the nomination, but he’s the only candidate who is articulating the need to lay dynamite to the foundation of federal agencies.