Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy dominated the first Republican presidential primary debate stage on Wednesday night and won the post-debate poll survey for the candidate who performed best.
JL Partners poll survey: In the JL Partners poll survey, Ramaswamy, 38, received 28% of the votes from the 504 registered Republican voters who watched the showdown between the GOP candidates in Milwaukee on Fox News. Ron DeSantis, the current governor of Florida, fell behind Ramaswamy by a point at 27%.
While DeSantis stuck to talking points, Ramaswamy appeared to approach the debate in a combative manner as he often traded blows with former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
“First and foremost, Vivek Ramaswamy, who has inserted himself onto the national stage and narrowly won the debate with Republican voters,” said James Johnson of J.L. Partners, according to DailyMail. “Second, Ron DeSantis, who nearly topped the poll and has very much kept his campaign alive and defied write-offs about his debate performance.”
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Ramaswamy’s strategy: Ramaswamy appeared to have utilized a strategy similar to former President Donald Trump’s approach in 2015, using attention-grabbing, often controversial statements taken from right-wing sources to engage the audience. His assertiveness in the debate led to significant Google search interest throughout the event.
His tactic has even led to praise from Trump, who had opted out of the debate. He defended the former president, calling Trump “the best president of the 21st century” and saying he would still support him as the party nominee if he is convicted on any of the felony charges that he is currently facing. During the debate, Ramaswamy also said that climate change was a hoax and that he would stop funding for Ukraine’s defense if he is elected president.
Ramaswamy’s tactic of drawing attention might have had both positive and negative outcomes. His confrontational demeanor garnered mixed reviews, with some perceiving him as assertive and petulant. But if the previous Trump precedent holds, it could work in his favor given his rising poll numbers.
Attacks on Ramaswamy: Despite his popularity, Ramaswamy was targeted for lacking experience, making controversial policy proposals and displaying contradictions in his positions.
He was called a “rookie” by Pence and was told by Haley: “Under your watch, you would make America less safe. You have no foreign policy experience and it shows.”
“I’ve had enough of a guy who stands up here who sounds like ChatGPT,” Christie also said of Ramaswamy. “First let me address the question that is on everybody's mind at home tonight. Who the heck is this skinny guy with a funny last name and what the heck is he doing in the middle of the debate stage?”
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However, the GOP candidate did not fail to showcase his assertiveness and polarizing presence, retaliating and launching more attacks than any other candidate on stage. At one point, Ramaswamy even said, “I’m the only person on the stage who isn’t bought and paid for,” slamming his rivals as “super PAC puppets” who use “ready-made, pre-prepared slogans” to attack him.