Trump Reacts to GOP Debate With Harsh Words for Some Candidates

Janice Hisle
By Janice Hisle
August 24, 2023Donald Trump
Trump Reacts to GOP Debate With Harsh Words for Some Candidates
Former President Donald Trump pauses for cheers from the crowd before speaking as the keynote speaker at the 56th Annual Silver Elephant Dinner hosted by the South Carolina Republican Party in Columbia, S.C., on Aug. 5, 2023. (Gerrits/Getty Images)

Although former President Donald Trump skipped the first GOP presidential debate with his fellow candidates, he monitored the event closely and posted a series of late-night and early-morning reactions to their statements on his Truth Social account.

The former president also touted the viewership of his prerecorded interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on X, formerly known as Twitter. That video was released on Aug. 23 at the same time that Fox News was airing its program featuring eight GOP presidential hopefuls who qualified to appear on the debate stage in Milwaukee.

“The Tucker Carlson Interview with me was a BLOCKBUSTER. Could hit 200,000,000 Views, and more! Thank you! I hope it was enjoyed by everyone,” the 45th president wrote on Aug. 24. Figures for the Fox News program were not immediately available.

But the former president’s campaign stated that the interview with Mr. Carlson “garnered over 124,400 reposts and over 439,500 likes—completely overshadowing all of television programming on Wednesday night.”

President Trump posted comments about the debate and about his alternate programming hours before he was expected to surrender to authorities in Georgia on criminal charges. He and 18 alleged co-conspirators face accusations related to their challenge of the 2020 election results.

The former president’s four indictments, two of which are related to his attempts to stop the election from being awarded to Democrat President Joe Biden, were discussed during the debate and also during his interview with Mr. Carlson.

NTD Photo
Tucker Carlson speaks with former president Donald Trump in a pre-recorded interview aired on debate night on Aug. 23, 2023. (Tucker Carlson/X)

‘Lies’ About Election, or Truth?

President Trump told Mr. Carlson that he believes the election was stolen from him, and that many Americans share that view. Although repeated polls show sizable percentages of U.S. voters believe that fraud was a factor in the 2020 election, many mainstream news outlets have continually dismissed such claims as “The Big Lie.”

Many reports have also cast President Trump’s continued protestations about the election as proven falsehoods. The Associated Press, for example, on Aug. 23 reported that President Trump’s interview with Mr. Carlson was “peppered with his election lies.”

However, President Trump told Mr. Carlson that former Attorney General William Barr, who served during the Trump administration, failed to fully investigate the election-fraud claims and only “pretended” to do so.

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Attorney General William Barr speaks at the Justice Department in Washington, on March 5, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Amid the continuing controversy over the three-year-old election results, President Trump remains the runaway front runner for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election.

According to the RealClearPolitics average of opinion polls on Aug. 24, he was drawing 55.4 percent of Republican voters; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was a distant second with 14 percent, followed by entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy with 7 percent.

Moderators of the debate asked whether the candidates would support President Trump if he were to be convicted on any of the charges and still become the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2024 presidential election.

Mr. Ramaswamy was the first to raise his hand, indicating “yes.” Other candidates were slower to respond, despite having signed a pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee; some even appeared to be looking at their fellow candidates for validation before raising their hands.

President Trump has refused to sign the loyalty pledge, which the Republican National Committee set as a prerequisite for candidates whose poll rankings and fundraising otherwise qualified them to participate in the debate. He has stated that some of the candidates shouldn’t even be running, such as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

‘Best President of the 21st Century’

During the debate—and previously—Mr. Ramaswamy has stated that, if he were to be elected president, he would pardon President Trump for any possible convictions. President Trump has consistently stated that he did nothing wrong, and that he is a victim of political persecution at the hands of the opposing Democrat Party.

Mr. Ramaswamy has largely agreed with that characterization. He has also praised President Trump for his performance while he served in the White House from 2017 to 2021.

Republican presidential candidate, Vivek Ramaswamy participates in the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In one video clip from the debate, Mr. Ramaswamy declared: “President Trump, I believe, was the best president of the 21st century. It’s a fact.” The Fox News studio audience in Milwaukee erupted in cheers.

President Trump posted that clip and expressed gratitude to Mr. Ramaswamy, writing: “This answer gave Vivek Ramaswamy a big WIN in the debate because of a thing called TRUTH. Thank you, Vivek!”

Criticism of Christie, DeSantis

In contrast, the former president unleashed disdain against a candidate who often locked horns with Mr. Ramaswamy: Mr. Christie.

“Chris Christie was horrible tonight. He was booed at a level never seen before at such a debate. He should have walked off the stage—Nobody wanted to hear from him!” President Trump posted.

The former president also posted a video clip in which the debate audience is booing so loudly that moderator Bret Baier had to quiet their reaction to allow the contest to move forward.

“Why is Chris Christie wasting his time. Look at the crowd’s reaction to him!” President Trump wrote.

President Trump also panned Mr. DeSantis’ debate performance.

NTD Photo
Republican presidential candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pauses during a break in the first debate of the GOP primary season hosted by FOX News at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis., on Aug. 23, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“DeSanctimonious was a ‘BOMB’ tonight,” the former president stated in one post, using a derisive nickname he coined for Mr. DeSantis.

In another post, President Trump wrote: “Ron DeSanctimonious is always talking about the number of votes he got in Florida. He doesn’t say that I got a record 1.1 million more votes than him. He forgot!!!”

Many pundits largely agreed that Mr. Ramaswamy overshadowed the Florida governor’s debate-stage performance.

Mr. Ramaswamy’s campaign released a statement, trumpeting that “Vivek Ramaswamy Slays Establishment in First Debate.”

The 38-year-old has often stated that he is the youngest candidate to seek the Republican nomination for president. The U.S. Constitution says a president must be at least 35 years old.

From The Epoch Times

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