WIU professor overviews the GOP presidential primary

By Kyle Wittenrich, News3 & WC Reporter

MACOMB, Illinois (NEWS3 & WC) – The road to the 2024 Presidential Election began last month with the first of the three Republican primary debates.

On August 23, eight Republican candidates competed on the debate stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Among these candidates were Ron Desantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pence, Nikki Hayley, Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Asa Hutchinson, and Doug Burgum. The moderators of the evening were Fox News Anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.

With it being the first debate of the primary process, the goal of the evening was for the audience to get to know the candidates on stage. Through numerous challenging question topics, including foreign relations and the women’s right to choose, the audience was able to hear each candidate’s stance on the difficult subjects. A Western Illinois University (WIU) professor explained the importance of the debates in the primary process.

“They serve as an educational function. They can help voters understand what the candidates are about and what their stances are. And they also give somewhat of a feel for how they are as a person” said Keith Boekelman, a professor of Political Science at WIU.

Following the evening, many critics and scholars stated that Governor of Florida Ron Desantis and former Governor of South Carolina Nikki Hayley had successful efforts during the debate.  However, the majority of experts declared that newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy was the breakout star of the debate.

“Ramaswamy probably was the breakout candidate in the Republican debate. Particularly his mannerisms appealed to a lot of people and he was seen as charismatic. Seen as someone who in some ways is maybe a surrogate for Trump,” said Keith Boekelman.

While there were many head-turning moments on stage, the biggest surprise of the night came from who was not there. Former President Donald Trump, who has already announced his run for the 2024 Presidential Election, decided to not participate in the Milwaukee debate. With him already being ahead in the Republican polls, many felt that there was no purpose in him competing on stage.

The second of the three Republican primary debates will take place on September 27 in Simi Valley California. Multiple candidates have already qualified for the debate including Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Hayley, Ron Desantis, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, and Chris Christie. The full list of who will take the stage has not been announced yet.

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