Too bad the setting was not an indication of what the debate would be. The library is on a magnificent hill with picturesque views of rolling hills and canyon, creating a serene setting. Yet, the debate was anything but serene with some acting like a bunch of children who did not get their way, overtalking each other.
After the debate, the candidates did not make themselves accessible, but some campaign managers or spokespeople answered a few questions from me in the Spin Room.
Vivek Ramaswamy’s campaign manager was asked why he seems so abrasive during the debate? She responded, “Not at all. We have a very short time, and he feels an increased pressure to make the American people understand his vision and come alongside him. His energy and tone match where we find ourselves today.”
Chris Christie’s campaign manager was asked if his candidate was hypocritical for not talking to the press considering he called the former President, “Donald Duck” yet President Trump has done interviews and speeches? He responded, “He just did the debate. He is talking to all the voters. To say he is the same as Trump is not even close. He is not coming here to the Spin Room because the debate performance speaks for itself. It is not even the same thing. Trump is afraid to debate.” I then asked him if he were President Trump’s campaign manager, would he seriously advise him to debate considering he is up by such a wide margin? He ignored me.
Ron DeSantis’s campaign manager spent a considerable amount of time answering the questions. I asked why there was not more concentration on President Biden than on President Trump? He responded, “President Trump is a candidate in this race so his policies are at issue. He owes it to come and debate and defend his record. While he ran his first campaign on border security, we cannot deny that the situation at the border has only gotten worse. The fentanyl coming in has affected hundreds of thousands of people, and the wall was not built. He made promises he did not deliver on. Both Biden and Trump did not get the job done. There is work that can be done even without Congress’s blessing. Governor DeSantis has said he will declare a natural emergency, declare it an invasion to stop the drug cartels, and get the military involved at the border. Governor DeSantis has worked with those in the legislative body who had differences of opinion and yet they found common ground and got the job done.”
Regarding the debate with Governor Newsom he said, “that debate has already been won. People voted with their feet considering how many people have come to live in Florida. He will talk about how families are suffering, how people are seeing gas prices going up, mortgage rates are over 8%, and food on the table is more expensive. People are not buying what Newsom and Biden say, ‘things are back to normal.’” A spokesperson added, “Governor DeSantis is debating Governor Newsom because he looks forward to comparing the contrast of ideas between a red state and a blue state.”
What are the major issues? “The most important issues are cutting irresponsible spending, incentivizing the right type of business investments in the US, bring back energy independence, make prices more affordable, and the dangers on the porous Southern Border and the danger of China.”
What about the issue such as women’s sports? He noted, “I believe Florida is the first state to pass a bill protecting women in locker rooms and bathrooms. A woman should never feel unsafe. He has made it clear there are two sexes, a man, and a woman. There are certainly physical differences. People need to speak up, fight back, and not be politically correct all the time there is a danger. I am surprised more feminists are not speaking out.”
In the Spin Room California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom made his presence known as a surrogate for President Biden. I asked him if he believes in Title IX and of course he answered “yes.” I then asked does he support biological males playing in women’s sports? His answer: “I think the Governor of Utah said it best. Never have so much venom been focused on so few people. Most trans- kids want nothing more to live and survive. This demonization against trans-kids is abhorrent. There are 35 trans athletes in the NCAA out of 520,000 athletes. This is what we want to focus our time and attention on.” Unfortunately, he moved on and did not allow me to ask follow-up questions such as: what about those women who were injured by male athletes who identify as transgender? Or what about the women who spend all that time and money and lost to a transgender? What about the next year, and the year after that, and those in high school sports-will that eventually lead to the end of women sports?
Nikki Haley’s campaign manager was kind enough to come and directly answer my questions. Do you think Governor Haley hit a home run when she spoke of the dangers of TikTok, responding to Vivek? “You are referring to when she said, ‘China knows exactly what they are doing. You now wanted kids to go and get on this social media that’s dangerous for all of us? We can’t trust you. We can’t have TikTok.’ She recognizes the dangers of China and knows how to tackle it. TikTok is just the tip of the spear. It should be unacceptable that there are candidates who are encouraging children to be on that platform.”
What about biological men in women sports? “Nikki finds it unacceptable. She is a mother, and her daughter has run track in high school so she can speak to that better than anybody on that stage.”
How does she feel about Ukraine suspending elections? “She believes the fight in Ukraine is very important because of China. It is vital to US national security that Ukraine wins that fight and has said ‘a win for Russia is a win for China.’”
During the debate Governor Haley pointed out that 60% of 8th grade students are not proficient in math and reading so what can we do about it? “She has said that a lot of people solely blame Covid but there was a problem long before that. She made her points clear on the stage tonight by saying ‘we need reading remediation. We need transparency in the classroom. No parent should ever wonder what is being said or taught in the classroom. There is a need for school choice. All the programs from the federal government should be moved down to the states to have them decide what education looks like in their states. Vocational classes should be put back in the schools. We must quit spending time on this DEA and CRT and instead focus on literacy.’”
Why should Americans choose her as the next President? “She is the one person on the stage who has been an executive, the Governor of a state, she has foreign policy experience as a UN Ambassador, having both executive and foreign policy experience. She is a mother and the wife of a combat veteran. She has personal reliability.”
Although President Trump was not there Kari Lake was his surrogate. What do you say to those Republicans who are knocking President Trump for his border policies? She responded, “It is really outrageous that a so-called Republican of all people can say that. I am from a border state and the border was a mess before President Trump. After being a journalist for over 27 years in Arizona I have never seen the border more secure than under President Trump. He had to do all of that with the Democrats fighting him and sadly the Republicans fighting him. Under him, the crossings and drugs coming across the border were down. Now under Joe Biden he pulled that policy back and our border is a mess with millions of people pouring in. The wall worked and we know it because Joe Biden welded it open so people can pour in. It is so obvious those saying it are making waves to get a sound bite. President Trump did get Mexico to pony up and pay for 28,000 soldiers to be on the border to stop Mexicans from coming across. This is quite incredible. That practically paid for the wall and then some. Not to mention the drugs not pouring in, and not having to process people pouring in, saving us money. The wall paid for itself many times over.”
Why should people support President Trump, “Americans should support President Trump because their lives were better four years ago, much better. They were making more money, their retirement savings looked a lot better, the 401k’s were in a lot better shape, our communities and neighborhoods were safer, and our border was secure. Life was better under President Trump. Joe Biden has destroyed our energy independence that we had under President Trump. We have an incredible candidate in President Trump and he has done his job well and we need to get him back in office.”
Kellyanne Conway summarized this debate to me. “All the Republican candidates talked about important issues of crime, but only took on Joe Biden a little and not near enough. If you want to be President, you must beat Joe Biden. I do not understand why he is being featured so less prominently. You must split the screen and see yourself on one side and Joe Biden on the other so the American people can see there is a contrast ideologically, regarding energy, competence, and yet they somehow have Trump in their head. President Trump is not here because he has already pivoted to the general election.”