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By Douglas Andrews, Patriot Post, Aug. 24, 2023

One candidate stood out, another exceeded expectations, and all eight of them made the most of Donald Trump’s absence.

“Our country is in decline,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in his opening salvo of last night’s Republican Party presidential debate. But, he said, “This decline is not inevitable; it’s a choice.”

In years past, we’d have expected the other candidates to take issue with that kind of pessimistic broadside and rise up on behalf of the country. But not last night. It’s a sign of the times that there was plenty of agreement on this point among the participants, plenty of agreement that Joe Biden’s presidency has already been an unmitigated disaster.

The first thing we noticed about seven of the eight candidates on stage last night was that all of them seemed to be wearing Trump-blue suits and Trump-red ties. Talk about the elephant (not) in the room. Nikki Haley, thankfully, went with a different look. Regardless, it was probably a win-win for the eight candidates, who got to introduce themselves to the American people, and for Donald Trump, who cited his commanding lead in the polls as his reason for sitting this one out with Tucker Carlson. …

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