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By Josh Hammer, The Wanderer, September 7, 2023

The August 23 much-anticipated first Republican presidential primary debate came and went without an obvious “winner” or dominant figure. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the onstage front-runner given the conspicuous absence of former President Donald Trump, performed ably with numerous compelling and substantive answers, but pre-debate expectations were high enough — and his national horse-race polling deficit with Trump wide enough — that it was left unclear whether such a performance might suffice.

Some of the second-tier candidates, such as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, likely outperformed; some, such as Haley’s fellow South Carolinian, Sen. Tim Scott, likely underperformed. And there was the glib charlatan Vivek Ramaswamy, whose egomania and insufferably grating nature were finally exposed before a national television audience; his personal favorability polling metrics have cratered, accordingly. …

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