Best of the second Republican debate: attacks on Trump, division over Ukraine and border security

Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Mike Pence, Chris Christie and Doug Burgum meet in California.

After the first debate in August, the Republican candidates for president met again in California. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library witnessed the second meeting, in which Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, and Doug Burgum all struggled to earn the trust of GOP voters. Donald Trump once again avoided the stage, so the participants sought to take advantage of his absence to grow in the polls and get closer to the former president, who for now leads comfortably.

All candidates met the requirements established by the Republican National Committee (RNC) :

  • 50,000 unique donors, including 200 donors in 20 states or more each.
  • A minimum of 3% of voting intention in two national polls and do the same in two polls conducted only in the states that will go to the polls first, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.
  • Pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee.
  • Do not participate in debates outside those of the RNC.

Larry Elder, Asa Hutchinson, Will Hurd, Perry Johnson and Ryan Binkley failed to cross everyone off the list, so they were not called up to participate. Regarding the first meeting, only the former governor of Arkansas was missing from the podium.

Dana Perino (Fox News), Stuart Varney (Fox Business Network) and Ilia Calderón (Univisión) will be in charge of moderating the dialogue between the GOP presidential candidates.

Live coverage of the second Republican debate

After listening to the verses of the national anthem, the candidates took the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, each and every one of them wearing some red item of clothing. Once the introduction round was over, with the audience applauding their favorite candidates, the questions.

The first topic of the night was the Michigan workers' strike, although the answers did not stick very closely to the theme. Tim Scott was the first to speak and referred to the southern border. He mentioned that fentanyl enters the country hand in hand with illegal immigration, the record number of illegal crossings and the end of Title 42. He called to finish the wall and enforce the law.

The next to intervene was Ramaswamy, who initially sought to empathize with the voters by remembering his family history, and then used a more moderate tone than in the first debate. Indeed, he praised all of his competitors as "good people" and advised Michigan workers to continue the protest but in front of the White House.

Chris Christie did not wait more than ten seconds to attack Donald Trump, whom he accused of hiding in his golf clubs and avoiding the debate with the rest of the candidates. Surprisingly to some, Ron DeSantis adopted the same rhetoric. The governor of Florida fired at the former president for being absent and then asked him for explanations for all the money he added to the national debt.


A video of Reagan himself was shown in which he spoke of amnesty for those who had entered the country illegally. On this point, all candidates agreed that existing laws had to be enforced.

During this topic, the first direct attack of the night occurred: that of Scott against Ramaswamy. Scott criticized him for now being more friendly with the candidates, after the aggressiveness he showed in the first debate. Ramaswamy clarified that, although they are good people, they are “within a system that is broken.”

Mike Pence dared to quote a phrase from Reagan, which states that "a nation without borders is not a nation." In turn, he once again puffed out his chest about his government experience, this time reminding the audience that he had to negotiate with Mexico to implement the "Remain in Mexico" policy.

Ramaswamy was the only one who expressly talked about expelling the children of illegal immigrants. "I am in favor of ending birthright citizenship for the kids of illegal immigrants in this country. Now, the left will howl about the Constitution and the 14th Amendment. The difference between me and them is I've actually read the 14th amendment," he said.



Christie was in charge of opening the second block, which began by ensuring that he is capable of bringing order back to the United States. He then went after Trump again. Looking directly into the camera, he accused him of being scared and not participating in the debate because he couldn't defend his record. If he continues down this path, Christie joked and stated that he will start calling him Donald Duck, a clear return of kindness against the former president, who usually nicknames his rivals.

DeSantis called for firing prosecutors "supported by George Soros," since they promote the famous revolving door in the courts and return dangerous criminals to the street. "When I had two progressive prosecutors that weren't following the law in Florida, I removed them from their posts, and the people of Florida are safer as a result of it," he added.

Almost 40 minutes later, Burgum had a comfortable intervention in the debate. The governor stressed the importance of the Second Amendment so that citizens have the opportunity to defend themselves against violent crimes. At the same time, he criticized progressive rhetoric against the Police.

Ramaswamy added another ingredient to the table and spoke of the "mental health crisis" that the country is going through. He spoke of a crisis of values ​​and a lack of meaning in young people, due to a distancing from faith. In addition, he criticized the excessive use of social media by minors.

Mike Pence promised that if he reached the White House he would send Congress a bill that would codify the death penalty for all those who participate in mass shootings. "And if I'm president of the United States, I'm going to go to the Congress of the United States and we're going to pass a federal expedited death penalty for anyone involved in a mass shooting so that they will meet their fate in months, not years", he explained. In his opinion, a life behind bars is not justice for these people.


The former vice president assured that he would return Obamacare funds to the states, to decentralize the power of the Federal Government.

Why does the United States have such high healthcare costs? According to Burgum, this problem is due to how subsidized the sector is, which causes prices to rise non-stop. "Every time the federal government's involved — whether it's higher education, health care, or now the auto industry — things get more expensive and less good", the North Dakota governor remarked.

In turn, Nikki Haley talked about putting patients back in the "driver's seat" and adding transparency to the industry.


Haley was quick to raise the banner of school choice to improve the education system in the United States. In addition, she called for more parental involvement in their children's education and detailed her plan to help students who have difficulties in reading and mathematics after the pandemic.

Christie used his time to attack the relationship between Joe Biden and the teachers' unions. He named Randi Weingarten as the main problem to solve.

"They're taking the worst of their members and defending them rather than advocating for our kids. And when you have the president of the United States sleeping with a member of the teachers union, there is no chance that you could take the stranglehold away from the teachers union. Every day, they have an advocate inside the White House every day for the worst of their teachers, not for our students to be the best they can be," he said.

Ron DeSantis was asked by the moderators about accusations about not wanting to teach African-American history in Florida. “First of all, it is a hoax perpetrated by Kamala Harris and we are not going to do that,” he said.

Tim Scott took up the gauntlet of racism and, accompanied by his classic positive rhetoric, stressed that “ The United States is not a racist country.” With a Sowellian tinge, he asserted that Lyndon Johnson's welfare state policies did no good to the African-American community.

Regarding parental notification policies about some children's self-perception, Ramaswamy was not afraid to voice his opinion and stated that being transgender, especially in children, is "a mental health disorder." "We have to recognize the truth as it is. It is not compassionate to affirm a child's confusion. That's not compassion. That is cruelty,” he added.

Another round of Haley vs. Ramaswamy

As in the first debate, these two candidates sparked each other throughout the night. When the moderators asked Ramaswany about his TikTok account, a company questioned about Chinese espionage, Haley attacked his reasoning and assured that he is not a trustworthy person.

“When you do business with the Chinese who gave Hunter Biden $5 million, We can't trust you. We can't trust you", shot the former governor.

Ukraine and China

The duel continued when the agenda moved toward Ukraine. Ramaswamy asserted that the fact that Vladimir Putin is a malevolent dictator does not mean that "Ukraine is a good country." Haley interrupted him by shouting "a victory for Putin is a victory for China," to which Pence added that "a victory for Russia gives China the green light to invade Taiwan."

The former ambassador to the United Nations also dared to directly criticize his former boss, particularly in his approach towards China. "This is where President Trump went wrong. He focused on trade with China. He didn't focus on the fact that they were buying up our farmland. He didn't focus on the fact that they were killing Americans," he said.

All against all

The last few minutes of the debate were quite chaotic, with all the candidates attacking each other. One of the most striking cases was that of Scott and Haley, who have known each other for many years. "Look, I appreciate him, we've known each other a long time, but he's been there 12 years and he hasn't done any of that. They've only given four budgets on time in 40 years and he was part of that. He increased the national debt, he voted for the spending," Haley stated.

"You actually asked for a gas tax increase in South Carolina" Scott snapped amid shouts that went back and forth.

Then, when the discussion turned to who could implement everything discussed in the debate, it was Doug Burgum who raised his hand. "When you say no one else has done it - the energy plans that have been announced in the last month by these other people on stage, we're already doing it in North Dakota. (...) When I took office, we reduced the general fund of the state budget by 27 percent in the first four months I was in office, and all the trains continue to run on time. Why? Because you had a business leader who was really there within every government job," he continued.

On the other hand, Pence once again resumed the speech that positions him as the most proven conservative of all and the one who has enough experience to right the country after Joe Biden.


DeSantis attacked Trump again over this issue. “I reject this idea that pro-lifers are to blame for midterm defeats. I think there's other reasons for that. The former president, you know, he's missing in action tonight. He's had a lot to say about that. He should be here explaining his comments to try to say that pro-life protections are somehow a terrible thing. I want him to look into the eyes and tell people who've been fighting this fight for a long time,” he indicated.

Ramaswamy and shots against Trump

Finally, even Ramaswamy, perhaps the candidate closest to the former president in ideological terms, took the opportunity to slip in a couple of criticisms. While he highlighted the "America First" agenda, he stressed that it is not exclusively Trump's. He even said it would take a younger generation to take that agenda "to the next level."