The Morning Briefing: The Hot Mess GOP Primary Debate Season Is Under Way

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Top O’ the Briefing

Happy Thursday, dear Kruiser Morning Briefing friends. Rosenda never refused the occasional cheese curd after thumb wrestling various galoots at the Bingo Palace.


Like it or not, kids, it’s on.

Election 2024 had its most official kickoff last night with the first of the Republican primary debates. Because the GOP has to make everything difficult, the frontrunner was not in attendance, but something named a Burgum was.

Let’s begin with the no-show. Tucker Carlson streamed a prerecorded interview with Donald Trump on X — the site formerly known as Prince Twitter. Victoria covered that for us:

Trump opted not to engage with a large group of opponents who would have spent their time attacking him. That wouldn’t help him, obviously. Everything Trump says now is being recorded and filed, and will be used against him in multiple courts of law.

I’m not sure that is how the evening would have gone, but what would it have mattered? That’s how the 2016 GOP primary debates played out, and he did all right then. More on why I think he opted out in a moment.

Victoria also said that Trump and Tucker “won” on Wednesday night and if you look at the number of views their video got vs. the cable news ratings for the debate, that would certainly seem to be the case. It’s an apples-and-oranges comparison, though. It does bode well for the future of digital media, however. The number of views that the video got doesn’t tell much of a story. For example, I viewed it twice, for about 30 seconds each time. The first time, Trump was whining about Fox News. The second, he was babbling about nicknames. I don’t know whether they’re counting unique or total views, but either way, I didn’t really watch it. I’m sure a lot of people tuned in for brief, curious peeks like that.


A case could be made that the debate was better without Trump, but my friend Stephen Green said something in his live drunkblog that struck me: “…I’m just annoyed that the frontrunner doesn’t think he needs to fight for my vote.”


Trump is acting entitled. You know who the last presumptive nominee and presidential candidate who acted entitled all the time was? Hillary Clinton. He’s acting like he’s owed this, and it’s more than a little irritating.

On to the debate. Mr. Green’s live account is your best source for getting a feel for how it went (The promo code DRUNKBLOG gets you a 50% discount on a VIP membership here!). These are a few of my thoughts.

I thought Ron DeSantis did very well. He kept reminding people of his record during COVID, which is his primary strength against Trump. The hardcore MAGAs have been trying to rewrite that script, but –as the kids like to say — DeSantis has the receipts. Trump weaponized Anthony Fauci. Here was what DeSantis had to say about that:

My favorite moment of his came when the Fox News moderators decided to waste time talking about J6 and Trump. The other candidates played along, and DeSantis excoriated them for the nonsense of it.


A lot of people were impressed with Nikki Haley’s performance, and I agree that she did well. I’ve never been as down on her as other conservatives, though, so I thought that she performed as I expected her to.

Tim Scott puts me to sleep.

Former Vice President Mike Pence had some fiery moments, but, as we all know, his “Sell By” date has long since passed.

The fact that our time was wasted by what Asa Hutchinson, Doug Burgum, and Chris Christie had to say, thanks to Ronna McDaniel’s debate eligibility rules, makes me think she’s deliberately trying to become a four-time election loser as GOP chairwoman.

I knew very little about Vivek Ramaswamy going into the debate. I regret that that is no longer the case.

What Ramaswamy lacks in gravitas or originality, he tries to make up for by talking faster and being louder than everyone else in the room. His best moment of the night came when he basically parroted DeSantis’s thoughts on public education. Once the Adderall gets out of his system, he’s vapid and obviously campaigning to make Trump love him.

I don’t know if anything that happened in the debate will move the needle in a major way for any of the candidates. If you believe the polls, Trump is unassailable.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember when Trump supporters insisted that polls are bull****.

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