1692879043 Republican debate Vivek Ramaswamy the Trump 20 steals the show

Republican debate: Vivek Ramaswamy, the Trump 2.0, steals the show

Vivek Ramaswamy won the applause meter. Nikki Haley was pleasantly surprised and Donald Trump didn’t seem to miss the audience: For young Republicans in Atlanta, Georgia, the first televised debate of the campaign between conservative presidential candidates was an opportunity to assess the forces present.

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More than a hundred people gathered at a bar in the Buckhead neighborhood to watch with interest as the eight White House candidates crossed swords on Wednesday night. Between sips of beer there was applause, cheers and screams of disbelief.

With ex-President Trump snubbing his rivals and conspicuous by his absence from the stage, all eyes will be on him in a few hours: he’s expected right here in Atlanta on Thursday. After being charged over his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, he is serving a brief stint in prison to serve the authorities.


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Meanwhile, Riquet Caballero, 36, assures him: the star of the debate was Vivek Ramaswamy, that climate-skeptical entrepreneur who made his fortune in biotechnology and who defends radical ideas, to say the least, like shutting down the Ministry of Education.

“It was the Vivek Show,” he told AFP. “People call him Trump 2.0. And I think that’s what we need now,” he adds, deeming the ex-president’s rants “trimmed”.


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In fact, many releases of “Vivek” in the bar earned him a lot of approval and even a fist raised in support, such as when he called for the safe burning of coal.

“Thank you Vivek!”

Andy Chopra, 46, was already very interested in Vivek Ramaswamy. His performance on Wednesday was what he expected, he says, but admits he was “surprised” by Nikki Haley, whom he found “very strong”.

The latter, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, has attracted plaudits on several occasions, notably for US support for Ukraine, her position on abortion, or when she quoted former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


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Allen English, President of the Young Republicans of Atlanta and co-organizer of the evening, had said from the start before the debate that he would have his favorite: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. But he says he came “with an open mind” because his “top priority is to make sure we name the person who’s going to win” against current Democratic President Joe Biden, 80, who is running for re-election for president.

Is he disappointed that Donald Trump isn’t taking part in the debate? Yes, even if he says he understands the reasoning of the ex-president, who was defeated by Biden in 2020 and is way ahead of his Republican competitors in the polls.


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In any case, he will not vote for the 77-year-old tycoon in the primaries: he wants “someone who can be president for eight years”, that is for two terms, in order to “repair the damage” to the Democrats.

“We are fed up with old people running this country. I like old people, don’t get me wrong,” he adds with a smile, “but we have two guys (Trump and Biden, ed.) who could use canes or walkers.” Let’s find someone who maybe not in Walker stage yet!”

He thought Nikki Haley was a revelation because she “didn’t spare her punches” but that while Vivek Ramaswamy had considerable “energy” she did not appear to have the capacity to lead a country.

Late into the night, the evening’s ubiquitous absentee, Donald Trump, himself commented on his rivals’ debate with a plethora of posts on his Truth Social platform.

He specifically attacked Ron DeSantis and “terrible” ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who harshly criticized him.

But to Vivek Ramaswamy, who called him “the best president of the 21st century” on the show, he reserved a nice comment: “Thank you Vivek!” he wrote.