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Republican Debates: Early Take Aways

As of August 23, 2023, the first presidential debate of the season has occurred. Eight candidates- Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Doug Burgum, and Asa Hutchinson- discussed the most controversial topics of today. In the spectacle, the purpose of debate can often be hidden. News media platforms regularly take small moments or features and expands them until the main ideas are lost. In PBS’s breakdown of the debate, 3 paragraphs were devoted to the fact that Nikki Haley was the only woman on stage, and very little page-space devoted to her policies or beliefs. What should we take away from presidential debates?

  1. Wording

Politicians use wording extremely strategically. Pay attention to each word and its impact on their statements. For example, Vivek Ramaswamy stated, “The climate change agenda is a hoax.” Because he included the word ‘agenda’, he is not stating he believes the climate is NOT changing, but rather there are people who are using climate change policies for their benefit.

  1. Decorum

The way candidates interact with each other reveals a lot about their character. More aggressive debaters can overwhelm the meek. Ask yourself while watching, “do I want someone who acts like this to lead my country?” Impoliteness can have major consequences when directed at world leaders.


A common misconception is that debates are won by the person on the “right” side. Debates, however, are not won by whoever is the most correct, but whoever argues their side the best. Whoever does the best job at convincing you that they are the best candidate is the real winner. They get the votes.

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