CNN asked its political contributors for their opinion on the first Republican presidential debate of the 2024 season. The opinions expressed in these comments are their own.
SE Cupp: Nikki Haley promised to change generations and delivered
On February 14, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced her presidential candidacy with a tweet that read, “It’s time for a new generation.” For many conservatives, especially those of us seeking to put former President Donald Trump and Trumpism behind us, it has been interesting. But it remains to be seen what that will look like in practice: What will the 51-year-old bring to the then-generational race? On Wednesday night, on more than one issue, Haley notably broke with the old guard. And on abortion, an issue so important to Millennial and Generation Z voters, he defended his personal anti-abortion stance, but also acknowledged what many Republicans don’t: That there simply are no accounts for banning the procedure. .
He advocated something that has become a dirty word in Trump’s new Republican party, consensus, and asked why we couldn’t agree to ban late-term abortions, ensure contraception, and refrain from imprisoning or killing women who perform abortions. And his calls to humanize the issue were a far cry from the more punitive, reactionary, and brutal policies being pushed by other Republicans across the country.
As for the climate, another important issue for the younger generations, he also found a middle ground. And he agreed that climate change is real, while Trump He called it a hoax. He insisted that he cares about clean air and water. But he also dismissed some of President Joe Biden’s climate policies as counterproductive to the United States and beneficial to China.
Plus, he had some great counters against grumpy Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and very grumpy Vivek Ramaswamy, showing that he may be older than both, but he’s also more experienced. She may be younger than Biden and Trump, but she is also strong. However, Haley’s attempts to stay above the fray of childish insults while strategically inserting herself and showing that she is in fact more modern in approach than the rest of her party make her the winner of the first debate.
SE Cupp is a political commentator for CNN.
David Axelrod: The big winner that night wasn’t on stage
And the winner was…the guy who wasn’t there.
For months, former President Donald Trump has been the subject of a guessing game about his attendance at the first Republican presidential debate. He was He courts hard by the chairman of the republican party. He was hosted at a dinner with Fox News executives in Bedminster. Some of his opponents mocked him, hoping to induce him to attend.
But in the end with a Take advantage of approximately 40 points In opinion polls, Trump knew that a divided field favored his dominance. So he picked his audience and taped a solo with suave conservative commentator Tucker Carlson, betting his opponents would fight each other hard. So it was.
Vivek Ramaswamy, the garrulous and brash 38-year-old tech entrepreneur who has portrayed himself as an anti-establishment populist and culture warrior in Trump’s image, took on former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and ex-South South. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Pence unexpectedly sparred with Haley over the abortion, while Christie drew loud boos from the crowd when she called Trump to hold him accountable for alleged offenses that led to four separate indictments of the former president.
Hailey and Pence had a strong nights sleep. But Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who once threatened Trump’s lead before slipping to a distant second, was desperate for a reset. He hardly succeeded. And though DeSantis came armed with powerful, well-thought-out comments on crime, borders, and a few other issues, he wavered uncomfortably about Pence’s role on Jan. 6 and his stance on abortion, adding to the impression of inauthenticity.
David Axelrod, CNN’s chief political commentator and host of “The Ax Files,” was a senior adviser to former President Barack Obama and chief strategist for the Obama presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
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