The seven Republican candidates who stood on stage at the Reagan Library during the GOP debate Wednesday took aim at Biden's border crisis, fired insults at each other, argued over curtains, and were asked to vote one of themselves "off the island," but what they did not do was speak out against the weaponization of the Department of Justice and the leveling of unrelenting lawfare at their leading candidate for the GOP nomination, President Trump.
Trump didn't appear on stage with the runners-up to the coming nomination, but spent spent time in Michigan talking to auto workers amid the UAW strike and laying out his plans to revitalize the industry and American manufacturing. He said that Biden is intent on the "assassination" of American industry.
The Biden White House has repeatedly claimed that the Department of Justice is independent, and does not take it's marching orders from Biden or his staff, yet repeatedly there have been revelations from whistleblowers in the IRS, documents from the FBI that the DOJ has been preferential toward Biden and his family, and malicious toward Trump. The moderators, who seemed particularly entranced with their ability to cut off debate instead of encourage it, didn't even ask the question.
Trump is facing charges from the DOJ in two cases, one stemming from the FBI raid and seizure of documents from his Mar-a-Lago home in August 2022, and the other accusing him of several conspiracies stemming from the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021. He has said he is not guilty in both cases. Trump is also facing trials in Georgia for allegations stemming from the aftermath of the 2020 election, and in New York on 34 felony counts of "falsification of business records," after having classified payments made to his attorneys as legal fees. DA Alvin Bragg claims these funds were used to pay off a woman with whom he is alleged to have had a dalliance.
Not a single candidate on the stage had kind words for Trump except for Vivek Ramaswamy, who is the only candidate that will stand behind the America First banner and claim it as his own. The others slammed Trump for not being on the debate stage, despite his having a lead so commanding that he has no need to show up.
When asked, oddly, by debate moderators who each candidate would "vote off the island," a reference to a old reality TV show Survivor, Chris Christie actually wrote "Trump" down on a piece of paper.
In response, Ramaswamy said "I have a different view on this. I think Trump was an excellent president, but the America First agenda does not belong to one man. It does not belong to Donald Trump. It doesn't belong to me. It belongs to you, the people of this country. And the question is: who's going to unite this country and take the America First agenda to the next level? When we rally behind the cry to make America great again.
"We did not just hunger for a single man we hungered for the unapologetic pursuit of excellence," he continued. "So yes, I will respect Donald Trump and his legacy because it's the right thing to do. But we will unite this country to take the America first agenda to the next level and that will take a different generation..." The moderator refused to let him finish his sentence.
In the previous debate, Vivek Ramaswamy said outright and unequivocally that Trump was the best president of the 21st Century. "We're skating on thin ice," he said with regard to the DOJ's prosecution of Trump, "and we cannot set a precedent where the party in power uses police force to indict its political opponents."
"Join me," Ramaswamy said, "in making a commitment that on day one, you would pardon Donald Trump. I'm the only candidate on this stage when the current steps and say move our nation forward."
The seven vying for second place also could not help but speak over each other, trying to gain some prominence on a crowded stage, repeatedly spoke over at each other, sniped at their competitors. At one point, Senator Tim Scott actually criticized Nikki Haley over her choice of curtains during her time as UN Ambassador. Haley replied that President Barak Obama had purchased them.
Those on stage were Senator Tim Scott, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Governor Ron DeSantis, former VP Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Governor Doug Burgum.
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