Preliminary opinions from Republican viewers of the first RNC debate suggest unexpected standout performances from under-the-radar candidates.
It was another disappointing night for team DeSantis as the Florida governor failed to stand out during the debate. While he avoided the onslaught of attacks directed toward younger candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, he didn’t leave any significant impression on viewers overall.
But two candidates kept viewers talking after the debate was over thanks to decisive moments on air.
Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
A notable standout due to her lackluster polling thus far, Haley mounted a headfirst attack on the Republican party as a whole.
She lambasted several of her opponents directly, singling out DeSantis, Senator Tim Scott, and former Vice President Mike Pence for voting on legislation that raised the national debt.
“Our kids are never going to forgive us for this,” said Haley, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration.
She then called out Republicans for adding exorbitant earmarks to the 2024 budget, noting they requested $7.4 billion in earmarks compared to Democrats’ $2.8 billion in requests.
“You tell me, who are the big spenders?” Haley said. “I think it’s time for an accountant in the White House,” she followed, referring to her own accounting degree and professional work history as a chief financial officer.
“Haley has cast herself as the reasonable responsible adult in the room,” said one viewer who commented anonymously.
“My favorites tonight were Haley, Scott, and Burgum. Good answers and were by far the most reasonable people,” said another.
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
A fellow South Carolinian, Scott also earned positive early reviews from viewers.
While he didn’t have any bombastic moments, the answers he gave resonated with those looking for a level-headed candidate.
“Scott is a classical conservative, small government, low taxes guy. He’s solid. I’ll take it,” a viewer concluded.
“He has a record in South Carolina that checks out,” said another in response to questions about Scott’s authenticity.
Official polling will be conducted today that will give more insight into the voters feelings on the first debate. We welcome our readers to sound off in the comments with their own takes!