2024 Election /

Republican Presidential Candidates Questioned On Trump, Ukraine

Ramaswamy Was The Only Candidate To Unilaterally Oppose Continued Funding To Ukraine

Eight Republican presidential candidates faced off during the first Republican primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

To participate in the debate, candidates were required to earn at least 1% among a series of polls, 40,000 unique contributors to their presidential campaign committee, and have with at least 200 from 20 states and/or territories. Candidates were also required to sign three documents: a pledge to support the GOP’s eventual nominee, a data-sharing agreement with the RNC and a pledge to not participate in any debates not sanctioned by the RNC.

Candidates were questioned whether they would support former President Donald Trump, who recorded an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson in lieu of attending the debate, and asked if they would continue funding efforts in Ukraine amidst the Russian invasion.

“We are going to take a brief moment and talk about the elephant not in the room,” said moderator and Fox News host Bret Baier, who asked candidates to raise their hand if they would support Trump should he secure the Republican nomination.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy immediately shot his hand up while other candidates appeared hesitant to respond. Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott along with North Dakota governor Doug Burgum raised their hands shortly after. Florida governor Ron DeSantis looked over at the fellow candidates before raising his hand in response. Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson did not raise his hand.

Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie appeared to raise his hand, though when questioned by Baier, the former New Jersey governor shook his head and gave a disapproving finger wag.

“Someone’s got to stop normalizing this conduct,” Christie said. “Whether or not you believe that the criminal charges are right or wrong, the conduct is beneath the office of President of the United States.”

Ramaswamy countered Christie by saying, “President Trump was the best President of the 21st century.”

The entrepreneur hit back at Christie by saying the former New Jersey governor’s campaign was “based on vengeance and grievance” against Trump.

“We’re skating on thin ice,” Ramaswamy said, “and we cannot set a precedent where the party in power uses police force to indict its political opponents.”

Christie and Ramaswamy sparred briefly as the former New Jersey governor referenced previous remarks from the entrepreneur critical of Trump.

Later in the debate, moderator Baier questioned candidates if they opposed further funding for the Ukraine war.

Ramaswamy’s hand once again shot up as DeSantis haphazardly raised his hand saying “Europe needs to step up.”

“I will have Europe pull their weight,” the Florida governor responded as Ramaswamy appeared to taunt DeSantis off camera. “I think our support should be contingent on them doing it.”

Ramaswamy bluntly responded he would not support continued funding for Ukraine, saying it was “disastrous.”

“It is disastrous that we are protected against an invasion across somebody else’s border when we should use those same military resources to prevent across the invasion of our own southern border here in the United States,” he said.

“I find it offensive that we have professional politicians on the stage that will make a pilgrimage to Kyiv to their Pope Zelensky without doing the same thing for people in Maui or the South Side of Chicago or Kensington,” Ramaswamy said. “I think we have to put the interests of Americans first; secure our own border instead of somebody else’s.”

He added: “And the reality is, this is also how we project strength and making America strong.”

Other Republican candidates expressed support for continued funding in Ukraine citing Putin as an existential threat to the country.

Ramaswamy is a biotech millionaire and Harvard graduate whose parents immigrated to the United States from India.

Christie served as governor of New Jersey from 2010 until 2018. The former New Jersey governor previously ran for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election, though dropped out shortly after the New Hampshire primary that year.

DeSantis was elected into the United States House of Representatives representing Florida’s 6th district in 2013 and served untl 2018. The former Florida representative was subsequently elected and assumed governorship of the Sunshine State in 2019 and handily won his re-elected bid last November.

In a Sunday Truth Social post, Trump confirmed he would not attend the Republican primary debates.

“The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders & Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History, & much more,” Trump wrote. “I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!”

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